By Robin Gomes
Days of heavy rain due to the tropical cyclone Seroja tropical, have affected 12 cities and districts in the province on Easter Sunday, killing at least 138 people, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said on Thursday. About 61 people are reportedly missing, while 271 homes and 99 public facilities were damaged. More than 8,000 people were evacuated to shelters including ones belonging to the Catholic Church.
Indonesian bishops’ appeal
“On behalf of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, I call on you to show compassion to our brothers and sisters who are suffering in East Nusa Tenggara province and some parts of West Nusa Tenggara province,” said Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI). In a video message posted on Wednesday on the YouTube channel of the bishops’ Commission for Social Communications, he explained that compassion that makes our faith concrete becomes a blessing to our brothers and sisters in need.
The 70-year-old cardinal urged donations through the charitable bodies of the Bishops’ Conference, such as Caritas Indonesia, the Commission for Socio-Economic Development, the diocesan Commissions for Social Communications and Jakarta Archdiocese’s Lembaga Daya Dharma.
The chairman of Caritas Indonesia, locally known as Karina, also spoke in the video message, encouraging concrete acts of compassion. “The Catholic Church in Indonesia will not stay silent. Our care for all those who are suffering is truly a concrete form of our faith,” said Archbishop Aloysius Sudarso of Palembang. “As a matter of fact, we just celebrated Easter, proof of the involvement of God, through Jesus, in human life,” the Dehonian archbishop said.
Father Fredy Rante Taruk, executive director of Karina, told UCA News that they have so far received donations amounting to more than 1 billion rupiah (US$71,400). He said that Caritas would continue to collect donations for a month which would be utilized also for rehabilitation programmes. Caritas is also working with the Commissions for Socio-Economic Development in several dioceses in distributing aid packages to victims. Father Taruk urged dioceses to particularly focus on the needs of babies, pregnant mothers and the elderly.
Maria Gorethy Bria, whose house in Naimana village of Malaka district was damaged, told UCA News that she and her family have taken refuge in a Catholic Church shelter since April 5. “We feel so sad. And we still have fears. But we are thankful that some people donate money to help us, the victims. They have pure hearts,” she said. (Source: UCA News)