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SBC aid in Indonesia to feed more than 5,000 families

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (BP)–Southern Baptist relief funds will soon provide food for more than 5,400 families affected by the May 27 earthquake in Indonesia’s central island of Java.

As the death toll topped 6,000 and estimates of homeless survivors ranged into the hundreds of thousands, Southern Baptist relief specialists joined other aid workers on the scene. They immediately began feeding 500 survivors while assessing needs in the area and meeting with other relief groups.

“A 30-day plan of action is now in place to provide food for a large portion of the affected population through 11 command centers scattered throughout the ruins of the area,” a relief worker reported. “An initial $50,000 (in Southern Baptist relief funds) has been committed to the effort and will go far in providing for the basic food needs of the victims. This will assist more than 5,400 families per day.”

Critical needs include nutritionally specialized food for small children, pregnant and lactating women and people who already were malnourished before the earthquake, said Philip Monroe*, Southern Baptist disaster response coordinator for the Pacific Rim. Monroe plans to move food supplies from other areas of Indonesia to ensure the neediest survivors “get what is needed,” he said.

A six-member volunteer team sent by California Baptists’ disaster relief office was expected to arrive in the area June 4 to assist in food distribution and other needs. The potential need for additional volunteers is being assessed as relief efforts continue.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck early May 27 along Java’s southern coast, crushing thousands of Indonesians as they slept in their homes and injuring at least 15,000 more. The quake flattened whole villages in the area and destroyed thousands of buildings.

In the Bantul district, one of the hardest-hit areas, up to 80 percent of homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. Aid shipments and relief workers have flooded into the area, but many villages are short of food and clean water. Some survivors remain in their wrecked homes, hungry and wet from recent rains, refusing to leave despite the lack of shelter and food.

To complicate matters, the area where Southern Baptists are working has been inundated with post-quake rains. The region also lies within sight of the rumbling Mount Merapi volcano, which could erupt at any time. That threat has forced evacuations in the area.

Much soul searching has already begun in the hearts of the victims, Monroe said. He anticipates many spiritual questions will come out of this disaster.

“We want to be there to answer their questions and share the message,” he said.

Southern Baptists can help relief efforts in Indonesia by sending financial gifts designated “General Relief-Java Earthquake” to the International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, Va., 23230. Give online at http://resources.imb.org/index.cfm/fa/donation.worldhunger.cfm. All funds given will go to relief efforts; none will be used for administrative costs.
*Name changed for security reasons.

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