In Sulawesi, Catholics provide food and assistance to earthquake victims (photo-video)
by Mathias Hariyadi

The province of Central Sulawesi, the epicentre of the disaster, is located in the territory of the Diocese of Manado (North Sulawesi). Mgr Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu praises the "generosity and solidarity" volunteers found on their long trip to Palu.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Supported by the solidarity and donations of the Catholic community, volunteers from the Diocese of Manado are providing assistance and handing out food to the victims of the devastating earthquakes that struck the island of Sulawesi on 28 September.

Aid workers are engaged in their humanitarian mission in two locations: the parish of the Sacred Heart of Mary, located in the heart of the city of Palu, and, a short distance away, the church of St Paul in Talise Beach, which was devastated by the tsunami that followed the tremors.

Central Sulawesi province, the epicentre of the disaster, is located in the territory of the Diocese of Manado (North Sulawesi) which, together with the Catholics of other circumscriptions (Semarang, Jakarta, Pontianak and Malang), took action and raised funds to help survivors.

Because of shortages, the authorities have been faced with mass looting. However, the local bishop, Mgr Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu, told AsiaNews that "the situation on the ground is improving a lot in terms of security".

Manado and Palu are about 950 kilometres apart. Broken roads, landslides and fallen bridges make travel between the two harder. Under normal circumstances, the drive between the two takes about 21 hours.

The road goes through Gorontalo, a province that is home to several Catholic communities.

"We sent humanitarian convoys to the central part of the island under the protection of the Armed Forces,” the prelate said.

“Fortunately, on the road connecting Manado to Palu via Gorontalo there are food stores that have willingly provided us with the goods we had to bring. The treasurer of the diocese will pay later."

"The generosity shown by the owners reflects a strong sense of social solidarity towards the desperate victims of the disaster,” Mgr Untu noted.

The bishop of Manado was "moved by such unexpected gestures" and is grateful “for the contribution provided by the readers of AsiaNews and".

The money raised will be used by the diocese in reconstruction efforts, which will be long and expensive.

Meanwhile, a group of volunteers from Bateleme-Tentena (Central Sulawesi) reached Palu after a long trip (video), said Fr Steven Lalu, head of the Diocese’s Social Communication Commission.

"They arrived last night, bringing food and essential items donated by the diocese,” the clergyman said. “The volunteers dropped them off at St Paul parish. I thank the donors and all the clergy of Manado."

(Video and photo credit: Manado Diocese's Social Communication Commission)

AsiaNews supports the fund-raising efforts by the Diocese of Manado. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so at:

Bank account number: 3873 77 777 5

Beneficiary name: Keuskupan Manado

Bank: Bank BNI