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Report from Pudong Indonesia

Report from Pudong: Where Temporary Camps Begin to Grow Organically

By Paulette Song

It's now been five days since the earthquake hit Yogyakarta. On such a critical day, the following report from Paulette Song clearly shows that this is not 'old news', but that the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the earthquake still desperately need support and coverage.

'We are the victims but not the entertainment,' read one hand-painted sign in response to one on the road to Pudong sub-district, part of the Bantul district south of Yogyakarta. "Seregradi Bantu" which is Bahasa for 'SOS,' read another painted sign.

On the road leading south from the ancient city of Yogyakarta, lush green rice paddy fields create a picturesque landscape. Children with cardboard boxes stand in traffic, asking for help. "Anything you can give," they called out in Bahasa, as a throng of mopeds, military trucks, and SUV's rumbled by.

Five days after Saturday's 6.3 earthquake, and hundreds of thousands remain homeless. Clusters of tents, reminiscent of temporary camps, common in the aftermath of disasters like the 2004 tsunami, are beginning to dot this lush environment, where rice is the key industry as in much of Bantul. Along the road south, in a large open field adjacent to a 'posko,' or distribution and information center, Jumiyem, 43, sits in an expansive military-issue tent which the Indonesian army erected on Saturday. Jumiyem is staying here with her husband and four children whose ages range from four to 15. They are sharing it with other families since Saturday, when the earthquake destroyed her Pudong home.

"We don't ask for food," says Jumiyem, "we don't ask for anything. But if you give it to us, we would be grateful."

Jumiyem isn't concerned about basic provisions like food and water, which have come by way of occasional donations, from residents of the community who have shared with her what they've received. Jumiyem says she's seen other victims of the quake receive sarongs, blankets, and other supplies, but she doesn't know how or where they were distributed.

Clearly, aid has come to the area in various forms: spring water, ramen noodles, cooking sets. An integrated Oxfam assessment team set out today to determine the needs of people in Pudong, whose homes were destroyed after Saturday's 6.3 earthquake.

Although food and water seem to be available, the need for latrines is clear: nearly 200 people sleeping in tents in this field are sharing just one latrine and one shower. The Oxfam team set out to determine how they could assist and possibly build latrines here.

While many survivors of the quake have chosen to return to their destroyed homes, and sleep near them though they may not be able to sleep in them, Jumiyem says she's reluctant to return to what remains of her home, fearful that a tsunami will strike.

With 30 families living in and around this field one latrine is clearly inadequate to meet the hygiene needs of everyone. Still, Jumiyem says, "we're lucky to have one."


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