“Many good deeds are being done all over the world. People should participate in such good activities, render help to others and regard them as spiritual exercises.”
Sathya Sai Baba, April 1994
A deadly earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hit the island of Sulawesi on 28 September 2018, followed by a tsunami and a volcanic eruption of Mount Soputan.
Natural disasters are not new to Indonesia. This island nation with a population of 267 million is prone to earthquakes because it is situated on the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. The Sulawesi disaster occurred only 2 months after a series of earthquakes struck the island of Lombok.
The tsunami on 28 September generated waves in the ocean that were 6 metres high and hit the coastal city of Palu and surrounding areas with tremendous force.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency in Indonesia reported that as of Sunday 21 October, 2,256 people have been killed, 4,612
injured and 223,751 displaced from their homes, including many children. The death toll, misery and damage caused by this disaster continue to increase.
The Sathya Sai Centre in Palu with around 500 members (by God’s grace, none perished), immediately set up a soup kitchen and provided assistance. The Indonesian Sathya Sai International Organisation (SSIO), also dispatched the Sai Rescue Team to ‘Ground Zero’ and provided food, blankets, drinking water and other urgent necessities. The Sai Rescue Team is specifically trained to assist in search and rescue operations and also supported the local Sai devotees. Apart from food, blankets and medical assistance, direct assistance and loving care were provided to many orphans and children suffering from post-traumatic stress.
As of November 2018, much work has been undertaken by Indonesian Sai volunteers in Sulawesi to support the afflicted. Ongoing medical assistance is being provided and public health issues are being addressed by building a water filtration facility which provides pure drinking water and by building emergency toilets and bathrooms.
Many of the victims are in urgent need of proper accommodation. In view of the fact that it will take years to rebuild the civic infrastructure and houses, the SSIO of Indonesia has taken the initiative to start building 200 houses for families, along with a Sathya Sai Clinic, a multipurpose hall and a Mushola – a prayer room for the Muslim.
The SSIO’s goal is to build temporary shelters as soon as possible and to provide a model for other organisations to build more shelters. SSIO volunteers around the world are welcome to participate in this project to assist our brothers and sisters affected by these events.
The Prasanthi Council has been in close daily communication with the SSIO of Indonesia and the SSIO Humanitarian Relief Committee to coordinate the humanitarian relief services. By Swami’s grace, the SSIO has been given an opportunity to support the relief efforts.
At the current time, the Indonesian teams have indicated that the local conditions are not conducive to welcome international volunteers. Therefore, we ask international volunteers not to travel to the relief sites or make plans to do so, until conditions improve. We will provide periodic updates of the situation on this website.
However, much support will be needed in the long term. Once the SSIO local teams advise, we shall notify all interested volunteers accordingly.
A letter was previously sent by Dr Narendranath Reddy, Chairman, Prasanthi Council, to inform everybody about the disastrous impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi and how one may want to participate – to access this letter, please click here.
Let us all continue to intensify our prayers to Swami to shower His divine blessings on our brothers and sisters affected by these disasters.