Posted: 11th April 2019
Over the last week we have been gradually able to move most of the displaced families who were at Stakin and STT GIDI to several semi- permanent locations or back to their homes where they have been working hard at cleaning and rebuilding.
We have four main locations that YAPELIN are supporting in partnership with local churches and leaders. Two locations have over three hundred people sleeping and eating at each. The others are mainly serving as a base for people to shelter and eat while they clean and rebuild. It has been amazing to see the response from the church and how people have mobilised to build again – moving and rebuilding toilets, digging wells, kitchens, shelters, coordination centres and storage rooms.
It hasn’t all been smooth, some are united and can move and work quickly, others are suffering from trauma and so progress is slow and sometimes painful.
The support we have been able to raise for all these costs has been vital. Thank you again to all who have given so generously which has enabled us to partner with the church and Yapelin to respond so quickly and be flexible in meeting peoples urgent needs.
Posted: 3rd April 2019
We are now at two and a half weeks since flash floods and landslides devastated much of our small town of Sentani in West Papua. Together with our partner YAPELIN we have now been hosting displaced people for almost two weeks. Initially we were caring for over 1000 people in our immediate location at the STAKIN Bible school and the GIDI Senior Theological College. The response to our Appeal has been an incredible boost and we can say without doubt that it has saved lives and injected hope into a difficult situation. Since the disaster we now know that at least 112 lives were lost with 94 still missing and over 11,500 displaced.
Everything has gone incredibly well considering our complete lack of preparation for something like this and the amount of people involved. There is, definitely, a feeling of hope growing here and we have tried hard to create a healing and positive space for everybody. We have been running fun activities for the children and having craft & knitting sessions with the ladies which has been wonderful. The displaced people and our amazing team have had groups in charge of data, food, rubbish, health, logistics etc….and we are very proud of the unity and spirit that has been created.
Over the last few days, we have been helping the Ministry for Social Affairs connect with people who have lost members of their families so they can provide some financial payments. The victims have to jump through a number of hoops and provide documents that have been lost in the floods. They then have to go and negotiate various government departments to try and re do the documents of the deceased. There are 55 families who are staying in our location that have lost family members, many more than one and some up to 5 or 6 people.
Together with our partners we are now at the stage of working out the ‘what next ?’ for all these people. Over the last few days people whose houses were flooded are moving home to clean them out and try and start again. We are also trying to get people back to their villages (by small aircraft) if they want to so they can recuperate and be with family. The Government are going to pay for most of these flights. However, many families want to stay in the city as children are at school here and they have been here for many years.
After all of this we will still have about 400 families from the worst hit villages that we will need to continue to support. These are ones who have lost their houses and their village no longer exist. We are currently helping three different church congregations to set up more semi-permanent camps where these families can spend the next months until land can be purchased by the government to relocate them. In these three locations people will start to become more independent, cook for themselves and we will help with income generation activities so they can start to stand on their own and prepare for the next stages.
The next stage of the response continues to be vital as this is when life for everybody else starts to get back to normal and the sense of emergency wears off…However, for those that have lost everything this can be really risky as they still have no stability, no income and health and family life can start to deteriorate.
We will continue to work with our partners to set up the semi-permanent locations so that families can live in a safe and healthy environment. We will also be supporting families to start up new forms of income generation so that they can start to support themselves. As of today 18 women’s groups have been set up. They are starting with making bags, blankets and hats to sell and over the next few weeks want to branch out into bread and cake making and selling vegetables to support their families. We will also be supporting families with basic materials such as water filters, cooking and kitchen kits, and water supplies.
Thank you for continuing to walk with us and our Papuan Partners to help people to get back on their feet.
Posted: 26th March 2019
It is estimated that 11,700 people have been displaced by the floods and are currently in displacement centres around the town of Sentani. Over 100 have been confirmed dead and almost 70 people are still missing. As we sit with those who have lost so much we have heard tragic stories: a woman who saved both her children, one only a month old, by climbing on a high rock and sitting all night; a grandfather who climbed down from a tree to save his grandchild, but both were swept away; a grandfather who lost 12 members of his close family and cannot sleep at night.
Even though the sun has now come out and the land is drying, so many homes are totally destroyed by water and their belongings gone, it is hard for them to go home.
We are working alongside one of our local partners YAPELIN who are looking after 577 adults and children, in the main hall and classrooms, and over 500 people, in the Senior Theological College building, at their Bible School Campus, STAKIN. Many of the families have lost children, parents and grandparents. Thanks to generous donations, to our Sentani Floods Emergency Fund, working with our partners we have been able to set up toilets and washrooms and provide them with food three times a day.
We have also been able to start equipping local churches with machines to start clearing mud out from houses in their communities, so that people can start returning home.
Today we were able to help eight families negotiate registering their lost family members with the government and police, so that they can access some support. This in itself is a heart-breaking process, as people are turned from one place to another and information is confusing.
We are still unsure what the next few days hold. The government says they will end the state of emergency on the 29th but, for all the families living at STAKIN and STT, the uncertainty continues. Where will they live? How will they live? What does the future hold for them? The Church will continue to accompany people and are currently discussing and planning for the best way to do this.
Posted: 22nd March 2019
Last Saturday night the town of Sentani on the coast of West Papua was hit by torrential rain, triggering flash floods and landslides. The rains and floods have continued over the last four days causing devastating damage.
Thousands of people had their homes washed away and many have lost their lives or are missing. Currently it is estimated that 11,700 people have been displaced and are in urgent need of food and shelter. Many are traumatised after having lost loved ones or barely escaping with their own lives.
We are working alongside our local partners in Sentani – the GIDI Church Denomination and their NGO YAPELIN – to help respond to this crisis. This is challenging, as many of the church leaders have also been affected and have lost family. Several of their congregations have completely disappeared with the mudslides.
Over the first few days the people displaced by the floods were able to find refuge on higher ground at the International School, a Mission station and various government offices. However, these locations have now reached their limit. Over the last two days we have been preparing a temporary place for refugees for the next stages in STAKIN Bible School and today, over 400 people arrived and are able to sleep in the main auditorium of the school. The majority of these people are from the communities that have lost everything and there is now barely any evidence their villages even existed.
Papua Partners has set up a fund solely to directly help those affected by the Sentani floods. Thank you to everyone who has given so far! This has meant that we have been able to set up toilets, wash rooms, and feed over 400 people for the first day. It makes a huge difference when we have funds to quickly respond to needs. Working in partnership with others, it has been amazing how all have come together to share the load.
We don’t know what the next few days will bring. There is yet more rain predicted and one of the main bridges is in danger of collapsing. The lake is rising and many villages were evacuated today.
Please pray for all involved and suffering loss, and for strength for those helping.