Central Java, priest who has given hope to the displaced of Merapi receives award
by Mathias Hariyadi
With micro-credit and training, Fr. Joseph Suyatno Hadiatmodjo and his volunteers have helped thousands of farmers affected by the volcanic eruption for over two months. The award was presented in recent days by the Yogyajarta. Mataram Rotary Club
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Eight months on from the eruption of Mount Merapi, the Rotary Club of Mataram in Yogyakarta (Central Java) has awarded Fr. Joseph Suyatno Hadiatmodjo (see photo) from the diocese of Semarang for his work in support of those displaced by the catastrophe. The award was presented a few days ago in the presence of the most important local personalities. Henry Susanto, president of Rotary, said the recognition is a way of thanking the priest and the diocese of Semarang for giving new hope to people affected by the earthquake of 2006 and the eruption of 2010.

First started on Oct. 26, 2010, the eruption of Merapi continued for about two months devastating the region of Central Java. Because of the pyroclastic clouds, there were 130 deaths and more than 300 thousand people were forced to flee their homes. Ash and molten rock destroyed thousands of hectares of forests and fields, the main source of livelihood of residents, mostly farmers.

In recent months Father Hadiatmodjo, together with a group of volunteers of the diocese created a series of rehabilitation programs for the farmers left homeless and landless. Through the use of microcredit and training, thousands of displaced people have started work again, giving way to new crops and the breeding of small animals or crafts. Fr. Hadiatmodjo is also well-known for his commitment to interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. In 1997 he created the Brotherhood Interfaith Forum, which unites leaders from both faiths with the aim to reduce conflict and promote inter-religious unity and peace between Christians and Muslims.