Sunday, October 4, 2009

Indonesia: Digging for Corpses; Weddings and Relief Efforts

Earlier this week, in another blog, I wrote about a tsunami in Sumatra, and said that I didn't plan to follow that particular event. (September 30, 2009)

Today, several major earthquakes and at least one storm later, I see that I've been writing more about Indonesia's disasters than I'd planned. Sumatra is an island, part of western Indonesia. It's a beautiful part of the world - although the natural beauty is punctuated by tropical storms, earthquakes, and the occasional volcano. (Remember Krakatoa? It's in that neighborhood.)

My hat's off to people living in areas that were hit recently. From the sounds of it, they're making do with what they have - and in at least one case not letting an earthquake get in the way of getting married.
"Indonesian Villagers Use Bare Hands to Dig Up Corpses"
The Associated Press, via FOXNews (October 04, 2009)

"With no outside help in sight, villagers used their bare hands Sunday to dig out rotting corpses, four days after landslides triggered by a huge earthquake obliterated four hamlets in western Indonesia.

"Officials said at least 644 people were buried and presumed dead in the hillside villages in Padang Pariaman district on the western coast of Sumatra island. If confirmed it would raise the death toll in Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake to more than 1,300, with about 3,000 missing.

"The extent of the disaster in remote villages was only now becoming clear. So far, aid and rescue efforts have been concentrated in the region's capital, Padang, a city of 900,000 people where several tall buildings collapsed...."
"Indonesians hold weddings despite devastating quake"
Reuters India (October 4, 2009)

"Roni Gustiawan's house was destroyed by a powerful earthquake four days ago, but on Sunday, dressed in traditional Indonesian red and gold finery, he married his 25-year-old fiancee regardless.

"The period immediately after the fasting month of Ramadan, which ended last month, is considered an auspicious time for many Indonesian Muslims to marry.

" 'We had scheduled it for Sunday and we had already sent invitations so it couldn't be delayed,' said Gustiawan in front of his shattered home.

"He was speaking shortly after the wedding and relaxing with a cigarette in a canopy tent decorated with gold streams and traditional red wedding motifs. His bride, Evi Susanti, also wore red and gold Minang wedding clothes, including a traditional pointed hat inspired by the horns of a water buffalo...."
"Sumatra quake: Aid worker's diary II"
BBC (October 4, 2009)

"Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies travels to an open-air clinic in Pariaman district, which was close to the epicentre of Wednesday's deadly quake in Indonesia.

"Off to an 0530 start this morning, thanks to the heat and mosquitoes in my airless room.

"It was a slightly fretful night as I was conscious of staying on the second floor of a large concrete structure, perhaps not the best option given the continued aftershocks.

"I wanted to visit one of the health posts set up in Pariaman district, which was at the epicentre of the quake.

"The road was choked with a bizarre array of organisations wanting to do good, from a squad of teenagers on mopeds with Dynasty Computers delivering boxes of noodles to the homeless, to members of the Singapore armed forces and the Indonesian 4x4 club. ..."
"With no outside help in sight..." and "...choked with a bizarre array of organisations wanting to do good..." aren't necessarily contradictory. If I'm reading the map right, Padang Pariaman district covers a swath of land over fifty miles wide by a hundred or so long. With roads and infrastructure messed up by earthquakes and storms, getting around could be tricky. That AP article may be describing a place that Mr. Fuller can't get to - easily, at least.

A Bit About Indonesia - Who's There & How to Help

Indonesia isn't a particularly Catholic country. About 86.1% of the people follow Islam.1 ("World Factbook," CIA)

Even so, we Catholics have units on the ground in Indonesia, including: Catholic Relief Services is there, too: "Catholic Relief Services Responds to Four Emergencies in One Week" CRS press release (September 30, 2009). Indonesia isn't the only place where people can use help. Today, CRS is asking for donations to help with any of five major issues.

The less high-profile Jesuit Relief Services Indonesia doesn't make it quite as easy to donate - but they've left a major clue or two for the motivated philanthropist. ("Welcome to JRS Indonesia" - "Bank Detail For JRS Indonesia Programmes" is in the lower-right corner of the page. I haven't researched it, but you should be able to work out how to get money to JRS with a little research, starting with that bit.)

Related posts: In the news: Background:
1The 2000 census showed that Indonesians are
  • 86.1% Muslim
  • 5.7% Protestant
  • 3% Roman Catholic
  • 1.8% Hindu
  • 3.4% Other or unspecified
Americans' religious beliefs are a little more eclectic, as shown by a 2007 estimate:
  • 51.3% Protestant
  • 23.9% Roman Catholic
  • 12.1% Unaffiliated
  • 4% None
  • 1.7% Mormon
  • 1.6% other Christian
  • 1.7% Jewish
  • 0.7% Buddhist
  • 0.6% Muslim
  • 2.5% Other or unspecified
Indonesia is, arguably, more "Muslim" than America is "Christian:" as I pointed out November 26, 2007, in Another War-on-Terror Blog.

A (Fairly) Brief Digression

Another War-on-Terror Blog has been noted and placed on a list of "Best Conservative Blogs" - I'm rather honored by that.

Since I make no attempt to hide the fact that I hope Al Qaeda and the Taliban don't succeed, and that I don't see America as the cause of most (if not all) of the world's problems, I'm pretty 'obviously' a conservative.

I'm certainly not an American liberal. I've discussed that before, in "Conservative? Liberal? Democrat? Republican? No, I'm Catholic" (November 3, 2008).

On the other hand, I don't match the 'conservative' stereotype that some people live down to. (See " 'They're all Muslims' - This Does Not Help,"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 29, 2007))

Happily, contemporary analogs of Maria Monk and Thomas Nast notwithstanding, America is quite tolerant of non-WASPS. For the most part. (See "The Pope, Angola, and the News: No Wonder 'Everybody Knows' What Those Catholics Are Like" (March 22, 2009))

I think being a willing follower of the "whore of Babylon" has made me a bit more aware of what others who aren't 'real Americans' - by the standards of, say, the late Timothy McVeigh - have to deal with.
"...I am not a Muslim, but I think I may understand how Muslims sometimes feel in America. I converted to Catholicism as an adult, partly as a result of trying to find out what made Catholicism so bad. I'm very much aware of how ignorance of an identifiable group of people can be associated with fear and loathing of that group - and how knowledge of such a group very seldom is...."
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 21, 2008))
I most likely won't be discussing Islam or Muslims and Muslimas very much in this blog: It's 'A Catholic Citizen in America,' after all. But this selection of posts from another blog might help explain why I try to understand people and what they believe.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.