Nuns in humanitarian mission for Sulawesi earthquake victims (photos)
by Mathias Hariyadi

Between 25 October and 7 November, nuns helped Palu residents with means provided by the Sacred Heart of Mary, a parish located in the heart of the city. The group travelled as far as Pengawu, Kayumalue, Ngapa, Desa Layana, Sipeso and Pantai Barat.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of nuns joined the humanitarian mission the Church organised in Central Sulawesi, a province devastated by earthquakes and a tsunami on 28 September.

Most of them are healthcare specialists from various Franciscan religious orders: the Little Sisters of St Francis (SFD), the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (FCJM) in Pematangsiantar, the Franciscan Sisters (OSF) in Sibolga, the Missionaries Sisters of Mary (FMM), the Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr Saint George (FSGM).

The nuns helped out the people of Palu, the epicentre of the quake, between 25 October and 7 November, on the initiative of the Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC). The work was performed thanks to the material help provided by the Sacred Heart of Mary Parish, which is in the heart of the city.

From the start of the emergency, the church of the Diocese of Manado served as the coordination centre for Catholic aid. Some young doctors and interfaith activists joined the Franciscan nuns, noted Sr Geovani Purba, who hails from Yogyakarta (Java).

"Our congregation,” she told AsiaNews, “sent two professional nurses to Palu: Sister Emmanuella Ginting, from Karo district, and Sister Mediatrik Tinambunan, from Simalungun (also in North Sumatera province)".

"Once in Jakarta, they joined the nuns of the other orders" and left for Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi. From there, they reached Palu on four lorries loaded with basic necessities.

"The journey could have been shorter, a day, but the vehicles were loaded with food and medicine", Sr Mediatrik explained. "We had to cross several remote places and we are happy when we reached those who needed our help."

Once they met up with volunteers from the Sacred Heart of Mary parish, they went as far as Pengawu, Kayumalue, Ngapa, Desa Layana, Sipeso and Pantai Barat.

"In addition to health care, we have also provided psychological counselling to deal with the trauma, through a variety of games and songs. Others helped local volunteers to organise meals for the poor, "she added. Some members of the group also provided spiritual assistance to the prisoners at the Maesa prison.

For Sister Adelia, FSGM, a nurse at the Panti Secanti Hospital in Gisting (Lampung), the Palu expedition was not her first to a place affected by disaster. She helped quake victims in Aceh and the Mentawai Islands, and, more recently, she was in Lombok and Mount Sinabung, with Caritas Indonesia (Karina Kwi).

"My role as a nun and nurse is clear. I was ready to go anywhere in Palu on a humanitarian mission to help the Diocese of Manado. I was in charge of trauma care at the crisis centre. But days later, I was given the task of assessing because of limited personnel. In a single day, I met about ten village chiefs from different areas,” she said.

Despite the load of work, “The joy of carrying out a humanitarian mission did not make me feel tired,” she said.

(Sr Geovani Purba, SFD, contributed to this article).