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The Spirit of Gotong Royong


After a two-hour drive from the Padang City onto the West into the mountains, we arrive in a district called V Koto Timur.  It is a peaceful agricultural province that has rice terraces in the mountains, larger than the ones in Bali, and coconut trees surrounding the roads, which are over ten meters tall.  We interviewed the chief of the Kudu Gantan village, where JEN first distributed emergency supplies.

“The houses in the village were completely destroyed by the earthquake. While the scale of damage varies by region, all the villagers were absolutely shocked by the awful earthquake, which had been an unprecedented experience for everyone.

Just after the earthquake, personnel from JEN arrived.  They asked me to make a list of the village residents.  As a chief of the village, I had been managing the villager list, so I immediately handed them the list. 


JEN prepared to distribute debris removal kits and a set of tools, such as wheelbarrows, per five households, to families with higher priority. We had a custom called Gotong Royong (working together), in which we support our neighbours. Soon, the villagers started removing the debris of each other’s houses. Now, we are almost done removing the debris, so we are reconstructing our houses by ourselves.  These tools were distributed by JEN at the time.


here were sometimes minor conflicts among the villagers and I had been solving them by intervening them.  However, the situation right after the earthquake was not something I could deal with by myself.  The tools we received from JEN us, who had lost everything at the time, hope and half of the power we have always had.  The second half is the part we ourselves need to work on.


We have learned several things by heart from this earthquake experience: 1) To assist those who are going through hard times, 2) To stockpile food, and 3) To support each other by integrating villagers, teachers, and the government.

May 11, 2010 in Indonesia |