Muslim Aid Media Centre

Our Programme Manager tells us about his experience with Muslim Aid in Lombok

Following the devastating earthquakes on Lombok, Indonesia, Muslim Aid, with our local partner YKMI, has launched an appeal to help the thousands of local people now displaced across the island.

Fadlullah Wilmot, Regional Programme Manager for Muslim Aid tell us more about their work on the ground responding to this emergency.

“I was in the Lombok office last Thursday when the third earthquake struck. The whole building shook, there was a huge noise and we all ran out into the road, leaving everything behind. I really felt  everything was going to collapse before we could get out. It was really sudden. 

“Seeing the terrible destruction all around makes you realise how transient and impermanent everything is. We think of our own concerns of being of overriding importance and then you realise that your concerns compared to people in the field who have lost everything are really very insignificant. 

“Then you think what can we do to support these people so that we can help them return to their life as it was before, or if possible, better than before.

“More than 300,000 people have fled their homes and are now living in the open air just covered by tarpaulins, with mosquitoes all around. They have nowhere to go to the toilet, dependent on other people for food and support; it’s a very difficult situation for people to have to live in. And the important thing is how we can help people in a way that maintains their dignity.

“Muslim Aid is a humanitarian organisation and has been active in Indonesia since the tsunami. We have always had a strong emphasis all over the world on emergency relief although in recent years we have focused on long term development work.  In Lombok Muslim Aid has been working with communities to help provide access to clean water, helping to build latrines, and importantly training people on disaster risk prevention.

“Right now on Lombok the priority has been to save lives;  so you need medical support and you need rescue people. We have to ensure there is clean drinking water available, enough food and that there is some basic shelter for people.

“I am very impressed with the Indonesian government's response; at a recent coordination meeting I attended I learnt that the Head of the Disaster Management had asked for all 436 schools that have been damaged to have temporary classrooms within 2 weeks so that children can be back at school and for one one temporary hospital to be up and running.

“The government regards the support from local NGOs as important because the government can’t do everything, so they appreciate the work of NGOs. The need is great and it’s vital that everyone pitches in. And Muslim Aid in Indonesia is working through its local partner YKMI. 

“Muslim Aid has been supplying tarpaulins, ropes, mats and blankets to help people have shelter, ready to eat food, including baby food, drinking water, hygiene kits (shampoo, soap, toothpaste) nappies and sanitary towels.

Fadlullah delivering aid to village leader at Sesele village

“The next phase will be to strengthen the capacity to help rebuild their lives – that is the most important thing. And identifying individuals or communities that need that extra level of support, including widows, vulnerable adults, disabled people and orphans. The need to build latrines is really important as going round we saw that people are  having to use the same river water to go to the toilet and wash their clothes so the results could be disastrous causing diarrhoea and cholera. Also we have met many, many people who are severely traumatised so psycho-social support is really necessary.  A number of our staff and volunteers have been trained in trauma counselling. 

“Muslim Aid has developed an expertise all over the world in reaching marginalised people, and people living in areas which are difficult to access. A lot of our work here is being done by local community volunteers who we have trained over the years – this model is helping us to reach many more people.

“The tourists will come back as it’s such a beautiful place and in the long term the majority of people will be able to recover, they are resilient. But there will be pockets of people who are left out who don’t have the capacity because they are old, disabled or just too poor and those are the people we need to identify and help.”

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