As news of the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Indonesia spread around the world, Water Mission had already begun to evaluate what resources were available and how to respond most effectively. According to a recent UNICEF report, the combined disasters that hit the island of Sulawesi on September 28 tragically killed more than 2,000 people and affected nearly 2,000,000. By God’s grace, we are well-positioned to help meet the urgent need for safe water in the aftermath.
Water Mission has a long-standing country program in Indonesia, with three local offices and a talented team of 20 that is experienced in disaster response. Our staff has been hard at work since the disasters hit, although logistics in Indonesia remain challenging: roads are impassable, the local airport is severely damaged, and the government is refusing relief assistance from foreigners.
Late last week, flash flooding further impacted Palu, a city at the center of the affected zone, which made working in the area even more treacherous. But our team was prepared for the challenge, and they have persisted in laboring around the clock. Even when many international aid organizations were forced to leave, Water Mission’s local staff was granted permission to continue providing relief.
In our efforts so far, we have relied heavily on the generosity of our corporate partners and friends like you as we work to provide safe water to those in dire need. After hearing about the earthquake and tsunami, our partners at the Poul Due Jensen Foundation immediately offered their support, allowing us to rapidly mobilize Living Water Treatment Systems from our Indonesia and Charleston offices. Thanks to this collaboration, we will be able to bring safe water to 75,000 people.
ADRA, another valued Water Mission partner, quickly opened its camp in the disaster area to our team on the ground. Additionally, a grant from ADRA will allow us to install four Living Water Treatment Systems, which can each purify up to 10,000 gallons of safe water every day. One of the four systems is already installed and providing safe water in the community of Pombewe!
The Indonesia team of our partner Grundfos assisted in arranging transport for our staff from Makassar — where Sulawesi’s only currently functioning airport is located — to Palu. Our team made the nearly 20-hour drive last week, packed tightly in a small car with the first pumps, generators, and chlorine they needed to provide safe water.
On the journey to Palu, each staff member also carried basic food and supplies in case they met people along the route who needed help. By coordinating with a local family, they learned that diapers and baby formula are in particularly short supply across the island and added those to the car as well. Upon arrival, our team was able to quickly install a chlorinator at an Islamic school in Palu, which now serves both students and surrounding households with essential safe water.
Every step of the way, our staff has encountered kind and selfless people who will do anything they can to help provide for those in need. Craig Williams, Water Mission’s disaster response coordinator, noted, “In my experience, most people just want to help, but they don’t know how. We need to bring them along with us. Whether a transport company, a plumbing supplier, or a local kitchen, everyone has a role.”
A few days ago, our team met three local pastors who were organizing street kitchens to feed the community. Everyone has a part to play, and each one makes a difference — including residents of hurting towns all over the island.
It’s been incredibly inspiring to see the resilience displayed by local communities. Over the weekend, Water Mission’s staff in Indonesia shared a video of safe water flowing in Pombewe, and you can clearly hear the sound of children laughing in the background. Their joy is contagious!
God’s grace abounds, even in the midst of devastation. The rebuilding has begun, and Water Mission is committed to working with partners to deliver safe water to those in dire need. With your support, we can do even more.