English / Bahasa At this time my country is experiencing a lot of disasters. These disasters have major impacts on communities, and place a great burden on the lives of many Indonesians. In the final months of this year we have had an earthquake, floods in Wasior (West Papua), a tsunami in Mentawai (Sumatra) and most recently Mount Merapi has erupted in Jogja (Central Java). In Waisor more than 100 people lost their lives while 450 have been pronounced missing; there were 445 deaths following the Sumatran tsunami; there have been about 232 fatalities in the Mount Merapi eruptions, and the number of refugees could be as many as 500,000. Up till now there is little sign that these disasters will end, particularly the on-going eruptions of Mount Merapi. These natural disasters take place in regions of Indonesia which are far away from the central government in Jakarta. We hope that the Indonesian Government will be able to respond quickly and assist the victims of these disasters. But with our system of Regional Autonomy it seems the response isn’t always as fast as it could be. This is because the different levels of government can often wait for one another to take the lead. There are a number of relief efforts by volunteer groups in the regions, who form camps and create emergency teams. They head straight to the field or disaster location to help effected communities. They collect donations, which can include money, clothing or food. Indonesians have a lot of empathy and understanding when a tragedy strikes a community. Unfortunately, there are some who place their own popularity first when giving assistance. For instance sometimes aid is covered in stamps from a specific political party or interest group. I don’t agree with this. Helping the weak or those injured by tragedy is an obligation which all of us should fulfil with sincerity—and without needing to be praised. We need to remember that regardless of whether a tragedy is caused by nature or whether a disaster is caused by an unjust system, the human victims will feel upset and disappointed when they are marginalised or when they have little promise of a better life. [singlepic id=161 w=320 h=240 float=left]Suffering will always be more prolonged where there is no guarantee of adequate social security. Life can return to dignity when we return to work and have an income that can fulfil our basic needs. This includes our physical and non-physical needs; it includes health and a suitable place to live. Top image: an ash covered village on the slopes of Mr. Merapi volcano (November 6 2010); above image: communities seek refuge from the volcanic eruptions (Dow Punpiputt/Oxfam).
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