IDEP Foundation

Anirah and Ekawati Between Earthquakes, Living in Camp and Hope for New House

In an evacuation tent made of tarpaulin, Anirah looked uneasy when we asked about her last condition. “I want to go home but there is no home anymore,” answered the 45-year-old woman. Her voice was rather heavy. “We are kind of renting this camp,” she continued half-jokingly. Her eyes then swept the 6×8 meter tent.

From left to right, Ekawati and Anirah are holding their Family Buckets (Photo: Edward Angimoy)

Since the 7 on Richter scale earthquake rocked Lombok last August 5, Anirah’s family lived there with 4 other families. They are totally around 35 people.

Anirah was one of the evacuees we met in Kuripan hamlet, Rempek village, Gangga sub-district, North Lombok regency. From the capital city of Mataram, this hamlet is about two hours away by car.

The weather was rather hot. Every now and then dust flew here and there when someone passed by. While fixing her hijab, Anirah continued the story when the earthquake occurred.

“On August 5, all the houses collapsed. Fortunately, no one died in this area. Only some people had minor injuries. At that time we were gathering at the chief of hamlet house as there was a distribution of groceries,” Anirah tried put her memory into order.

Since the first earthquake on 29 July, residents in the village of 121 families have received some relief efforts in the form of basic necessities. “But it hasn’t been divided yet when the earthquake has come,” she continued quickly.

As we saw, almost all of the houses here were collapsed by the earthquake. Under these conditions, it is very risky if the houses are re-occupied.

Next to the tent where Anirah had evacuated, a wooden house was still standing. “Only those that survive,” she said with a chin pointing to the house. “Other than that, collapsed.”

Although not as strong as August 5, series of small earthquake still continued. “The earthquake is still happening up to now. Like couple hours ago, “explained Anirah.

National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) data does show that. Noted, as Anirah told us her story, Lombok had been rocked by 1,000 times earthquakes. “Last night, it was 5.0 on the Richter scale. When the earthquake happens, we all run away to the main road,” her voice rose at the end of the sentence.

On that day, we distributed aid packages in the form of Family Buckets to all the families in the village, including Anirah’s family. The distribution was carried out in a post that was located opposite the tent where we were chatting.

The atmosphere there was so crowded. From the loudspeaker, a number of names of family representatif who were previously registered were called to receive the aid package. The volunteers from SAR Mapala Muhammadiyah team was seen pacing back and forth to help us doing the distribution.

Meanwhile, right next to the tent, two psychologists from our partner, Yayasan Pulih, seemed to be guiding a number of games with the children.

Anirah herself has four children. Other than her first child who was married, the other three now live with her. One of the children who was playing with the psychologists was her youngest child.

“I feel sorry for my children. He cried for home. Where is my house, he said,” Anirah tried to imitate with a stiff expression. “If he sleeps here,” she continued while tapping the tarpaulin which also became their sleeping pad, “he always wailed, his body ached.”

Anirah also told stories about her children who also often cried because they could not go to school and study the Al Quran. “Fortunately, there is a SAR team,” she refers to the volunteers of SAR Mapala Muhammadiyah, “who teach the Al Quran and some subjetcs. Ever since they are here, children are happy to be taught all kind of things.”

Ekawati, the mother of two children who sat side by side with Anirah, also began to speak. “Yes, ever since the earthquake the children are keep asking everyday where the school is. They want to go to school,” she said.

Before the earthquake, like most of the residents, Anirah was a farmer. From her garden, she used to harvest chocolate, bananas, coffee and durian. The harvest is then sold by her to meet the needs of the family.

“We pick chocolate every week when it’s ready,” she explained. “But now I can’t go to the garden. With God willing, hopefully, if the earthquake is not happened anymore, we can go back to the garden to harvesting and the meet our daily needs. Hopefully, with God willing,” she said impassionedly.

Almost similar to what happened in many other hamlets in Lombok, many of the residents went to migrate. The general intention is to get a better income. If it’s not Kalimantan, then Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are the places they often targeted. Mostly, adult men do this. One of them is Anirah’s husband.

“My husband went to Kalimantan. It has been four months,” she explained. When we asked whether her husband had known their condition after being shaken by the earthquake, she just answered shortly, “Yes.”

Anirah then turned out the conversation. “Well, I’m grateful to have such a help. I’m grateful. Thank you very much for your help.” Her eyes sparkled this time.

Before we talked, she has already have the Family Bucket on her hands. While holding the bucket and a pile of fresh food, she explained about her feelings. “Yes, I have seen all the contents,” she laughed out loud this time.

The bucket that we distribute contained basic needs for two weeks such as food and beverage supplies, baby needs, medicines, sanitation needs, shelter equipments and education media related to disaster.

“Thank God I feel happy,” she said. A moment later, she pointed to one of the women who stood not far from her, “she told me about everything in bucket, everything was enough.” Some of the women who circled Anirah immediately laughed before the sentence ended. The woman she had pointed at put a shy smile on her face immediately.

“Now we have vegetables. And this one is more enough,” she said while tapping on her bucket.

The group of children who were playing at the moment were immediately filled with laughter. Anirah and Ekawati looked briefly at their children. A thin smile seemed to expand slightly in the faces of both of them.

Anirah then returned to open the answer when asked what it’s like to live in a tent. “It’s cold here at night. And vice versa it’s hot when day comes. Living in here make us feel sick,” she complained.

“There are pain and also sadness in there. But, it doesn’t show up untill the night has come,” said Ekawati. His voice trembled slightly.

After a short pause, Anirah began talking about the availability of water. “We take the water from the river. Still feeling scared, but what else could we do,” a little laughter tucked in there, “we need the water. The water tank has come twice. Last night and the day before. Only twice.”

Not only about water, electricity is also a problem here. “We don’t have electricity lights anymore here. Instead, we use the moon as our lights,” Anirah inserted a comedy and then laughing to herself. “The electricity collapsed after the night of the big earthquake,” she recalled back to the August 5 earthquake.

“Moonlight and wood burning. That’s our lamp,” said Ekawati. “There is a lot of wood here.”

Without noticing, the conversation with the two of them had almost arrived at the end. Anirah and Ekawati have not shifted from their seats since the beginning.

When asked about his hopes, Anirah was hesitated for a moment before submitting an answer. “Now we have food, but still lose our house.” Her gaze was empty.

For the same question, Ekawati answered more convincingly. “I want to have a house.”

“That is what I prefer,” said Anirah approving Ekawati.

“I’m dreaming about it every night and day so there will be a place to live for children,” Ekawati explained.

It’s not too late that day. In the distance, loudspeakers at the distribution post had stopped calling names. Apparently, the distribution was already finished. 121 families in this hamlet have got their share.

Before closing the conversation, Anirah emphasized her hopes. “That’s all I hope for, a house. But we can only pray, giving in. Hopefully someone will help us here.” Once the sentence was over, her eyes turn to his son who hasn’t stopped playing yet. (Ed)