The floods in Manado – Banjir di Manado

Waste washed to the alley by the flood is piled up to the side to make way for people to pass. | Sampah yang terbawa banjir untuk sementara ditumpuk di sisi lorong agar bisa dilalui.

Waste washed to the alley by the flood is piled up to the side to make way for people to pass. | Sampah yang terbawa banjir untuk sementara ditumpuk di sisi lorong agar bisa dilalui.

On January 15th, Manado was struck by a flash flood like the city has never known before. During the previous days Manado and Minahasa had continuous rain, with only 30-60 minute breaks between each bout, and on the fateful day the waters rushed in to Manado through two of its biggest rivers, rising to a height of 3 metres in places nearest the rivers. The people were lucky that the water rose gradually, so most had time to leave their homes. Some were not so lucky and were trapped in the upper floors of homes and offices, or worse, rooftops and trees. When the flood receded, the damage was appalling. Homes were buried in mud – some in a light layer several inches thick, most in a generous foot of mud, while others were buried entirely. Whole walls collapsed in some houses; others were gone altogether. Everything left inside homes were rendered useless after such a thorough submersion. The damage was also felt in other, more public facilities. Bridge barriers snapped, and a bridge vital to transportation inside town cracked clean across after taking a pounding from the flood waters. Another bridge connecting a gated community to the main road crumbled altogether.  A portion of the highway connecting Tomohon and Manado collapsed and until this moment is impassable.

One of the schools we visited. The first floor was cleaned up to be used as classrooms, while refugees stayed on the second floor. | Salah satu sekolah yang kami kunjungi. Lantai pertama dibersihkan seadanya untuk digunakan sebagai ruang kelas, sementara lantai dua digunakan pengungsi.

One of the schools flooded with mud. | Salah satu sekolah yang dibanjiri lumpur.

Pada 15 Januari lalu, Manado dihantam banjir bandang dahsyat, berbeda dengan banjir-banjir sebelumnya. Beberapa hari sebelumnya, hujan turun terus menerus di Manado dan Minahasa, dengan jeda hanya 30-60 menit , dan pada hari naas itu air mengalir membanjiri Manado melalui dua sungai besar, hingga ketinggian 3 meter di tempat-tempat yang bersebelahan dengan sungai. Masyarakat masih bisa dikatakan beruntung karena air naik perlahan, sehingga sebagian besar sempat mengungsi. Beberapa tidak begitu beruntung dan terjebak di lantai dua rumah atau kantor, atau lebih buruk lagi, di atap dan pohon. Ketika air surut, kerusakan tampak luar biasa. Rumah-rumah tertutup lumpur – beberapa ditutupi lapisan tipis, sebagian besar terkubur lumpur hingga sebetis, sementara sisanya terkubur total. Semua yang ditinggalkan di rumah menjadi tidak berguna. Kerusakan pun terlihat di beberapa fasilitas public. Pagar jembatan patah, dan jembatan Mantos, urat nadi transportasi di jalan Boulevard, retak karena tidak mampu menahan beban kendaraan, setelah terus menerus dihantam air banjir. Jembatan lain yang menghubungkan perumahan ke jalan utama rubuh sama sekali. Sebagian jalan raya yang menghubungkan Tomohon dan Manado longsor dan runtuh, dan hingga saat ini tidak dapat dilalui.

Caroline, helping prepare ready-to-eat food to distribute to refugees. | Caroline membantu menyiapkan makanan bungkus untuk dibagikan pada para pengungsi.

Caroline, helping prepare ready-to-eat food to distribute to refugees. | Caroline membantu menyiapkan makanan bungkus untuk dibagikan pada para pengungsi.

In SY, we are thankful that none of our team members were affected by the flood. However, many were not as fortunate as we were, and we felt compelled to help them. So we began by accepting donations, both from people in Indonesia and overseas. We spent weekdays handling our programs, and the weekends were dedicated to helping out wherever we could. The weekend immediately after the floods we joined Michael Rahamis and his friends, who were cooking ready-to-eat meals to be distributed to the people in refugee shelters. We also distributed necessary daily items for the people at the shelters, such as diapers, soaps, sanitary napkins, medicine, etc.

SY team with Michael and some of our kind donators. | Tim SY bersama Michael dan beberapa donatur baik hati.

SY team with Michael and some of our kind donators. | Tim SY bersama Michael dan beberapa donatur baik hati.

Kami di SY bersyukur tidak ada anggota tim yang terkena banjir. Akan tetapi, banyak yang tidak seberuntung kami, dan kami merasa terdorong untuk membantu. Kami memulai dengan menerima sumbangan, baik dari teman-teman di Indonesia maupun di luar negeri. Setelah mengerjakan program kami selama 5 hari kerja, kami mengisi akhir pekan dengan membantu. Pada weekend pertama setelah banjir kami bergabung dengan Michael Rahamis dan teman-temannya, yang memasak makanan untuk dibungkus dan dibagikan pada para korban di posko pengungsian. Kami juga membagikan beberapa kebutuhan dasar untuk warga, seperti popok bayi, obat, pembalut wanita, dsb.

Child Protection Services and Bakudapa Kawanua Sedunia, along with the SY team, pose with Kak Seto. | Tim Komda Perlindungan Anak dan Bakudapa Kawanua Sedunia, bersama tim SY, berpose dengan Kak Seto.

Child Protection Services and Bakudapa Kawanua Sedunia, along with the SY team, pose with Kak Seto. | Tim Komda Perlindungan Anak dan Bakudapa Kawanua Sedunia, bersama tim SY, berpose dengan Kak Seto.

The next weekend we joined Vanda, who is one of the people in charge of the posko set up by Child Protection Services and Bakudapa Kawanua Sedunia (World Kawanua Gathering). Vanda and Jull, her co-coordinator, are focusing their fundraising and distribution on children affected by the flood. This disaster also took its toll on schools, and they wanted to make sure that despite the obstacles these children could still pursue their education, and have the motivation to do so. The donations they received were directed to providing stationery and clothes in the short term, and assistance to schools wrecked by the flood waters as well as counseling to traumatized children in the long term. They were also visited by Kak Seto, a famous child psychologist and children’s rights activist, and together we visited several shelters to distribute necessary school items to children, as well as to play with them and cheer them up in the stressful aftermath of the disaster.

One of the schools we visited. The first floor was cleaned up to be used as classrooms, while refugees stayed on the second floor. | Salah satu sekolah yang kami kunjungi. Lantai pertama dibersihkan seadanya untuk digunakan sebagai ruang kelas, sementara lantai dua digunakan pengungsi.

One of the schools we visited. The first floor was cleaned up to be used as classrooms, while refugees stayed on the second floor. | Salah satu sekolah yang kami kunjungi. Lantai pertama dibersihkan seadanya untuk digunakan sebagai ruang kelas, sementara lantai dua digunakan pengungsi.

Weekend berikut kami bergabung dengan Vanda, yang merupakan salah satu coordinator posko Komda Perlindungan Anak dan Bakudapa Kawanua Sedunia. Vanda dan Jull, rekan koordinatornya, fokus pada pencarian dan penyaluran dana untuk keperluan anak-anak yang terkena banjir. Musibah ini juga merusak sekolah-sekolah, dan mereka ingin memastikan bahwa anak-anak ini bisa tetap belajar, dan termotivasi untuk terus masuk sekolah. Sumbangan yang mereka terima digunakan untuk menyediakan alat tulis dan pakaian dalam jangka pendek, dan bantuan bagi sekolah yang rusak karena banjir serta konseling untuk anak-anak yang trauma dalam jangka panjang. Mereka juga dikunjungi Kak Seto, psikolog anak dan aktivis hak anak terkenal, dan kami mengunjungi beberapa posko pengungsi untuk membagikan keperluan sekolah untuk anak-anak, juga untuk bermain bersama dan menghibur anak-anak yang tertekan dalam menghadapi bencana.

Yaki coloring sheets to cheer up children! | Lembar mewarnai yaki untuk menghibur anak-anak!

Yaki coloring sheets to cheer up children! | Lembar mewarnai yaki untuk menghibur anak-anak!

This experience has really opened our eyes – and hopefully, the public’s eyes – on how the environment is very much overlooked in today’s race to development. While our communities needs to grow and develop to accommodate its ever-increasing needs, human necessity alone does not justify the apparent conquest we can see being done in the name of development. A need for homes does not trump the need for trees. Retaining walls may reshape hills and rivers, but they do not have the power to control sudden, unexpected shifts of these natural features. Being a part of the environment, we should grow by also respecting the needs of our environment, instead of forcing nature to comply with our habits. When we recognize the importance of forests and urban green areas, not only as a source of fresh air and water, but also as reservoirs of such, our natural barricade against floods and landslides, then these disasters may be prevented.

With some of the children taking shelter in a church. | Bersama beberapa anak yang mengungsi di gereja.

With some of the children taking shelter in a church. | Bersama beberapa anak yang mengungsi di gereja.

Pengalaman ini membuka mata kami – dan semoga juga mata masyarakat – mengenai betapa lingkungan dikesampingkan dalam lomba pembangunan masa kini. Masyarakat kita memang harus berkembang untuk memenuhi kebutuhan-kebutuhan kita, namun kepentingan manusia tidak membenarkan penjajahan alam yang mengatasnamakan pembangunan. Kebutuhan akan rumah tidak melebihi kebutuhan akan pohon. Tanggul mungkin bisa membentuk ulang bukit dan sungai, namun tidak memiliki kemampuan untuk mengendalikan perubahan mendadak pada rupa-rupa bumi ini. Sebagai bagian dari alam, perkembangan kita seharusnya menghormati kepentingan lingkungan, bukannya memaksa alam untuk mengikuti kebiasaan-kebiasaan kita. Ketika kita paham akan pentingnya hutan dan ruang terbuka hijau, bukan hanya sebagai sumber air dan udara, tapi juga sebagai penyimpan air dan pertahanan alami manusia terhadap banjir dan longsor, bencana seperti ini bisa dihindari.

Shopping for formulated milk to distribute to babies. | Belanja susu formula untuk dibagikan pada anak bayi.

Shopping for formulated milk to distribute to babies. | Belanja susu formula untuk dibagikan pada anak bayi.

At SY, our main focus may be conservation and education, but the welfare of the communities we’re trying to educate is also important to us, both personally and professionally. As we go on helping disaster victims in our free time, we hope we can raise awareness of how important it is to take the environment into consideration in every decision we take. The yaki, who disperses seeds throughout the forest and thus assisting forest regeneration, is one among many aspects of the environment we can help protect. When we protect our environment, we protect our community!

Even in these troubled times, the people still manage to smile! | Bahkan ketika ditimpa musibah, mereka masih bisa tersenyum!

Even in these troubled times, the people still manage to smile! | Bahkan ketika ditimpa musibah, mereka masih bisa tersenyum!

Di SY, fokus utama kami memang konservasi dan pendidikan, namun kesejahteraan masyarakat yang menjadi sasaran pendidikan kami juga sangat penting bagi kami, baik secara pribadi maupun professional. Sambil kami berusaha membantu korban banjir dalam waktu luang kami, kami berharap kami bisa meningkatkan kesadaran masyarakat akan pentingnya mempertimbangkan segi lingkungan dalam setiap keputusan kami. Yaki, yang menyebarkan biji-bijian pohon dan membantu regenerasi hutan, adalah satu dari banyak aspek lingkungan yang bisa kita lindungi. Ketika kita melindungi lingkungan, kita melindungi masyarakat!

 

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