August 2019 marks one year since the 7 magnitude earthquake struck Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara last year. The Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) recorded 71,962 houses, 671 schools, 52 health facilities and 128 other infrastructure were damaged due to the recurrent earthquake. One year after the devastating disaster, thousands of families still occupy emergency houses while most schools still rely on emergency buildings or tents to carry out learning activities.
Happy Hearts Indonesia (HHI), as a non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding disaster-affected schools, is targeting the construction of 10 schools in Kabupaten North Lombok by mid-2020. As of August this year, four schools have been successfully rebuilt while the construction of two other schools will soon begin. In a trip to monitor the school reconstruction in North Lombok last July, we observed the post-earthquake conditions and the recovery progress experienced by the residents around HHI’s work area.
Besides first aid such as food, clean water, medicine, clothing and tents, infrastructure is the next urgent thing that must be provided to restore normalcy and economy in the affected area. Unfortunately, there are several aspects that obstruct the rebuilding of infrastructure in Lombok. According to local residents, the construction of houses and schools is often constrained by the limited supply of building materials and labours. Furthermore, the disbursement of rehabilitation funds from the government also requires time and a long bureaucracy.
“I was stressed out of trying to ask for help to rebuild this school. Although there is a possibility of getting funding from the village office, there is no certainty of how much and when we will get the fund since there are many other things that must be prioritized by the local government. Meanwhile, our students have begun to have health problems since they have to study under a tent located on the roadside which makes them exposed to dust, ” said Ms Pertiwi, a teacher at PAUD Permata Hidayah that is currently rebuilt by HHI with support from the Czech Republic Humanitarian Aid.
Before fully recovered from the trauma caused by the previous earthquake, Lombok was again rocked by 5.8 magnitudes, last April. Dozens of houses were reported to have collapsed while hundreds more were severely damaged. The trauma got worse as some of the newly rebuilt houses or shelters got destroyed once again. People began to rethink about the structure and materials they have to use should they receive aid to rebuild the destroyed houses. When the HHI team started the school reconstruction in North Lombok earlier this year, a number of local residents who initially came to help seemed interested in the earthquake-resistant construction techniques implemented by HHI. The discussion rolled out while the locals slowly learned about construction standards that could minimize the impact of an earthquake. An unexpected positive impact has taken place among the community members around HHI’s work area.
Entering the third quarter of 2019, HHI has listed a number of schools around North Lombok that need support for reconstruction. We invite all of you to join us in providing safe classrooms and proper learning facilities for children affected by the Lombok earthquake. One year is already too long for these children to learn under the heat of emergency tents and among the debris that limits their activities. The existence of proper school buildings not only helps schools conduct effective learning activities but also helps fasten the trauma recovery for the children of Lombok.
“It’s like a dream came true. We have been waiting for help to rebuild our school. As the name suggests, Happy Hearts Indonesia indeed brings happiness to us, “said Mr Mastur, the principal of PAUD Al Muhsinin, another pre-school which has also been rebuilt with assistance from the Czech Republic Humanitarian Aid.
Come join us to rebuild more schools and restore hopes for children in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.