03/06/2014, 00.00
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Catholics aid displaced in Sinabung volcano eruption, forgotten by the government

by Mathias Hariyadi
Thanks to a fundraiser sponsored by the Indonesian community in Italy, a group of Catholic Kbkk volunteers provide medical and psychological care. Now the goal is to distribute seeds to farmers, to restart the crops. Reviving the spirit of solidarity among the Indonesians in Italy and in Europe.

Jakarta (AsiaNews ) - The Catholic aid group Kelompok Bakti Kasih Kemanusiaan ( Kbkk ), thanks to a fundraiser sponsored by the Indonesian community in Italy is promoting initiatives of solidarity for the victims of the volcano Sinabung. The local population - mostly Batak Karo, indigenous people of the Christian faith - have been waiting for aid and material support for months. However, President Yudhoyono and the government have effectively abandoned the people of the area, focusing their attention on Java and North Sulawesi, struck between January and February by a series of devastating floods.

The volcano Sinabung is located in the Karo district in North Sumatra province, the mountain is 2,400 meters high and in the summer of 2010 had already resumed activity after centuries of being dormant (the last episode dated back to 1600) , resulting in more than 12 thousand displaced and a thick blanket of smoke and fog. Since September last year the eruptions had become more and more intense, to the point of generating widespread alarm among authorities and the sudden flight of thousands of people seeking shelter. A second eruption occurred in November, but the most devastating was February 1: the eruption of a thick layer of ash and lava killed at least 15 people and displaced more than 20 thousand.

At the time of the eruption the local Church had opened the doors of parishes and religious buildings, welcoming refugees, with the Catholic community immediately mobilizing itself and promoting initiatives of solidarity. Kbkk volunteers have set up a number of basic services, including medical and psychological care. The project depends on a small loan guaranteed by the Indonesian community, based in Italy, which has organized a special collection.

Thanks to donations the activists have collected € 1,030 for a immediate aid.  The initiative was launched on social networks by Shirley Hadisandjaja - Mandelli in Milan and Ina Wahyuningsih Harjosantoso in Parma. The collection, says Shirley, aims to "revive" the spirit of solidarity among Indonesian migrants in Italy and in Europe.  Future projects include the donation of seeds to the farmers of the area, which will also be supported by Ursuline students based in Jakarta.


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