04/12/2013, 00.00
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From the web to remote areas, a growing network of solidarity rises among Indonesia's Catholics

by Mathias Hariyadi
Social media and mailing lists are increasingly effective tools to use in case of need, not only when natural emergencies strike, but also when life faces ordinary challenges. In Semarang for example, an online appeal for help saves a life. In Sumba, people from Jakarta survive a car crash unscathed at Easter.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - For Indonesian Catholics, the internet and social media have proven ever more effective means to address a plethora of problems, from emergency situations like natural disasters to the dramas, big and small, of everyday life. Through mailing lists, web networking and Facebook, the Catholic community has been able to show its solidarity and come to the rescue of people in distress, as was recently the case in the Archdiocese of Semarang. However, the mission's new frontiers are not limited to and by the web, but have found application in actual projects and initiatives by small groups in some of the remotest regions of the country.

Recently, Catholic activist Lilik Krismantoro, from the Archdiocese of Semarang in central Java, posted a short article that eventually circulated via a mailing list. In it, he recounted the tragic story of a man, Suroso, who works as a casual gardener at a Catholic retirement home in Wisma Salam, in Magelang Regency. He needed eye surgery, but did not have enough money or health insurance to pay for an operation and was in danger of losing his eyesight.

The appeal launched online by the Catholic humanitarian worker eventually led to an eye specialist at an ophthalmology facility in Yogyakarta where the gardener was successfully operated by Dr Agni Nuraini Iin.

The manner in which the whole thing unfolded got the attention of the local archbishop, Mgr Johannes Pujasumarta, who personally checked out the case and prayed a lot for the operation's success.

For Catholics, it brought twice the satisfaction because it got donations to pour in to pay for the surgery and led to a "compassionate" deed in favour of a needy member of their community.

For them however, the World Wide Web is not the only thing. During Holy Week, a group of 19 faithful travelled from Jakarta to spend Easter in one of the most remote areas of the country on Sumba Island, which is part of the Diocese of Weetebula, in West Nusa Tenggara province.

The Jakarta group, all members of the Kelompok Bakti Kasih Kemanusiaan (Humanitarian and Charity Group or KBKK), brought aid and assistance to locals who live in a region that is environmentally stressed, with long periods of drought.

During the trip, participants also came close to tragedy of their own as their van got into an accident, flipping over once as it slid down a slope, five metres below the road level.

No one was injured, but "We were left out of breath," Catholic activist Irene Setiadi said. "Thank God for the miracle!"


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