Students provide aid to victims of the floods in Indonesia

Biola students affected by the flood raise funds to help their friends and family in Indonesia.

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Students provide aid to victims of the floods in Indonesia

Amanda Frese, Staff Writer

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(This story was originally published in print on Apr. 11, 2019).

Where there were once roads lined with storefronts and bustling sidewalks, rivers have destroyed everything in sight on the streets of Sentani in the Papua province of Indonesia. Boats surrounded by stilt houses on Lake Sentani were swept away when waters rose, causing waterfalls and mudslides to take away not only houses and land, but also the family and friends of many living in the Papua province.

As of March 17, nearly 80 people have been reported dead, 43 missing and 74 injured, with over 4,000 displaced after the floods, according to the most recent report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Over 11,000 houses have been damaged by flooding, causing displaced people to flee to shelters, churches or the houses of family and friends.

When sophomore intercultural studies major Becca Enumbi heard of the damage from the flood in her hometown of Sentani, she gave her mother seven words of encouragement: “if you can help them, then help.”

Enumbi has adopted this philosophy in her own life, and has been selling her clothes and shoes as well as jewelry and gifts from Papua, to aid the victims. Enumbi and her friends from Indonesia experienced the initial shock and sorrow of loss while studying in America.

“Some of my friends studying here, their families are missing. Some people are missing and when they are found, it is just a body,” Enumbi said. “They have to move people that live nearby the mountains, and it’s sad because those people have lived there…  so they have lost their land and their gardens.”

The IFRC has reported that in addition to contacting those who are missing and providing emergency aid, Indonesian Red Cross relief teams are reaching people who have been cut off from resources because of damage to bridges and transportation. Relief teams determined people in the affected areas are in immediate need of clean water, food, toilets, blankets and clothing.

As the flood is subsiding and people are beginning to receive relief, the people in Papua are recovering bodies and attempting to rebuild after their loss. Enumbi’s friend and senior at California State University, San Bernardino Richard Manhue has been helping her fundraise because he also has family in the Papua province. Manhue says that people are trying to clean the remnants of their houses and possessions from the flood. However, mudslides have covered many structures, causing difficulty in the process of recovering bodies and cleaning the province.

“Right now, because there were also mudslides, people are cleaning up their stuff,” Manhue said. “Mud is everywhere and it’s a lot, like five feet tall. In some places you can stand in it and you’re in the top floor of a house.”

RECOVERING AND REBUILDING

Adjunct professor for the Cook School of Intercultural Studies Lloyd Peckham was a missionary for over 30 years in Indonesia. He is familiar with the impacts of flooding in the area, as he experienced it during his time as a missionary. Before rebuilding, Peckham says people must first recover those who have died.  

“Now that the floods are subsiding to some degree, I am sure that the people are trying to get back to reconstruct something,” Peckham said. “The problem is, if they do it too haphazardly at first it is going to be difficult to uproot them again to a more suitable location. The first priority is recovering the bodies. Many of them are covered by mud and many, many are missing.”

In the midst of such a devastating disaster, Enumbi and others from Indonesia saw the needs of their family and friends and searched for ways to provide aid, even while they are studying in America. Through fundraising on GoFundMe, Enumbi has raised over $4,000. She raised an additional $500 at a booth during Missions Conference selling jewelry and clothing from Papua.

Their goal is to continue raising money for those impacted by the floods through fundraising to pay for immediate needs such as food, water and clothing. Enumbi encourages her fellow Biola students to donate money through her GoFundMe page or by supporting her at her fundraisers.

While people are in need of physical resources and essentials, Peckham also said Biola students can support people impacted by the flood through prayer. He advised students to pray not only for those grieving of loss after the impacts of the flood, but also for those who seek to provide relief to people in the Papua province.

Pray that the people who really know Jesus will have open hearts to their neighbors, that it will melt the ice and the religious boundaries,” Peckham said. “The other thing I would be praying for is a constant feeding from God’s word that they wouldn’t neglect God’s word in meeting all the immediate needs.”