As I am sure you are aware, Lombok was hit recently by two substantial earthquakes. Unusually, the second was not a smaller ‘aftershock’ but considerably more powerful than the first. Whilst all of our clients were thankfully unharmed, very many of Lombok’s residents were very badly affected (as were many on the tiny neighbouring Gili Isles). So far 436 people have been confirmed killed, 1400 injured and more than 357,000 displaced. Getting these people temporarily housed before the rains start in October/November is a huge priority.
Experience Travel Group (ETG) partners on the ground in Lombok have kept us up-to-date and ably assisted our clients locally. Our clients themselves have shown great patience and forbearance holding on at their resorts or the alternative arrangements we have made. Most hotels we use have been affected only slightly, as they are not in the remote north of Lombok and are well-constructed with high-quality materials.
We work with a team composed of Marcella Segre, who has been living in the Gili islands for a long time and often volunteers in refugee communities across Asia and who wrote website reviews for our clients about the whole of Indonesia, Laura O’Neill, a Development Worker with experience working for NGOs and organisations such as the Red Cross and Save the Children and Hardi, an Indonesian rescue ranger with experience in setting up and managing refugee camps and is currently based in Gili Air. We have known Marcella personally for many years. When we wanted to know how to donate money to survivors in the most effective way, we naturally turned to her and her team.
In her own words:
“I am writing to give you an update regarding the situation in north Lombok and the Gilli’s after the earthquake.
I am in daily contact with my friends and neighbours there who have organised some immediate relief groups to supply essential goods in the stricken areas. North Lombok has been all but completely destroyed and families have been relocated to improvised refugee camps.
I have put together a team to help channel aid to make the biggest possible impact. With the help of a charity Billion Bricks, we have therefore launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring in some high-quality tents that will provide a temporary, yet decent and safe shelter following the momentum of the initial emergency aid. Full details about the tents can be found here.
The first batch of 35 tents is ready to be shipped; for the production of other ones, more time will be needed. My team and I believe this investment would help cover mid-term shelter needs until a more durable solution can be found. Although this has only a limited impact considering the sheer amount of people that have been hit by the earthquake, it will at least provide some quality shelter to the ones who are currently most in need.
The chain of aid is as follows: I am collaborating with Billion Bricks CEO Prasoon Kumar to ship in some tents as soon as we have the funds. In Bali, a former flatmate has set up an office to coordinate the delivery of supplies and collaborate with a boat company that can make rapid deliveries to Lombok. On the island, a contact who works with the Red Crescent is collaborating with a courier company to help deliver the tents. Logistical support for this part is essential to ensure equitable distribution of the tents and also because attacks on supply convoys have been reported. The tents will be delivered to a refugee camp set up in Tanjung [north Lombok].
I personally know all people involved and most of them have been my colleagues on previous projects with refugees and displaced people in Indonesia as well as my neighbours in Gili Air and long-time friends.
The money will arrive on a joint account managed by the whole team, part of which will be used to pay for the tents, part for the transport. The tents will be brought personally by our team and delivered to the families assessed as having the greatest need. As per procedure by the charity organisation ‘Billion Bricks’, all assigned tents will be recorded, with a record of each family receiving the tents, their names and family members, GPS coordinates of the location where the tents will be settled and a photo of the family in front of the tent. Additional checks will be done in the months following the delivery of the tent to verify its use and functionality.
A further aspect I’d like to highlight is that our team and I are volunteers and we won’t receive any compensation [money nor goods nor services nor anything else] to carry out this operation. We act because we love the place where the earthquake has occurred, we have all been living there for a long time and we know personally many local people from the area who have been affected by the disaster. Everything you donate you will be spent on a tent or transportation for that tent.
If you feel this medium-term shelter solution responds to how you would contribute to this emergency, it would be great if you could share the link to the campaign with your network of contacts, so that we can increase the possibility to raise enough funds to make a tangible difference.”
Prior to founding Experience Travel Group, Tom and I were involved in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami of 2004. We set up an aid organization at the time called Aid Sri Lanka and raised and distributed over £250,000 in the year following the disaster. My wife worked for Save the Children in the same effort. I mention this only as it gave us a small insight into the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster and a sense of what is most effective. We believe long-term re-building is best left to the established international and local NGO’s with their procedures and networks. However, we think that Marcella’s plan corresponds exactly with a way of making an immediate and much-needed contribution which will materially improve the lives of those affected. The sooner the money is raised, the larger the impact.
That’s why ETG we will be making a donation as a company to this fund and why many of us will be making donations as individuals too. We would be very grateful if you were able to share anything at all to support this effort so we can quickly help Marcella and her team reach their target and get the tents to those who need them most. We are happy to personally guarantee that the money donated will be spent for the intended purpose and we shall work with Marcella to provide evidence of what your kind support achieved in the months to come.
Find out more about the Billion Bricks charity here.
For more about the tents that they are providing, click here.