Gugah Nurani Indonesia for Children Affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja
Tropical Cyclone Seroja hit a number of areas of East Nusa Tenggara Province in early April 2021. Floods and landslides due to extreme rainfall have caused casualties, damaged homes, public facilities and infrastructure, also to force thousands of residents to be internally displaced. Based on data from the Seroja Tropical Cyclone Emergency Response Post, East Nusa Tenggara Province on April 14, 2021, there were 181 people died in 9 districts, while 47 people were still declared missing. A total of 49,512 people were internally displaced. Residents whose houses were classified as slightly damaged returned to their own homes once the condition was safe.
Gugah Nurani Indonesia first came to Ile Boleng Sub-district of East Flores District, East Nusa Tenggara Province in 12th April 2021. The Tropical Cyclone Seroja brought us all the way from Borong District, which is 480 kilometers west side of Flores mainland to be with the children who affected by the disaster. We came with three personnel and the support of six volunteers we recruited along the journey. The commitment was to reduce the burden felt by children while living in refugee camps through a series of activities in our psychosocial support program.
We served 267 children from Nele Lamawangi and Nobo Village of Ile Boleng Sub-district with activities, such as drawing and coloring, singing dan dancing, playing indoor and outdoor, also to teach the children to express their emotions and seize the future. The support that was carried out for two weeks had a tremendous impact on the children in the refugee camps. The children felt very comforted, some children who were initially stressed out had slowly returned to normal and being cheerful; no more sad or worried faces. Every day they waited for our arrival to play and have fun with the educational tools we provided. One of the success factors of our psychosocial activities was because of the parents who encouraged their children to participate in our activities.
Other that psychosocial activities, Gugah Nurani Indonesia also provided 150 packages of hygiene kit, which consist of bath soaps, toothbrushes, toothpastes, towel, sarong, and detergent for clothes to 150 families. Meanwhile, for the children, we distributed 267 packages of school bags, books, and stationary.
The children refused to send us home. It was 30th April 2021, our last service to the community. “Many of them felt sad. ‘Why did you leave us?’, some said with a frowning smile. Some refused to say goodbye and did not want to send us to the alley where we used to part with them every day during our service”, said one of the volunteers. It was a hard goodbye for sure, but with the involvement of local people in our program, we hope that the parents and community people will carry on the activity with children until they are fully recovered.