IDEP Foundation

House Collapses Due to Earthquake, Child Born in a Tent

Dadang In front of the building which will later become the Sukawangi village office

November 21, 2022, in Cianjur, West Java. It was a scorching Monday with dust everywhere. Renovation work on the house was still ongoing. The man’s name was Dadang. He was in the village of Padaluyu, Cugenang Subdistrict.

At 1:21 PM local time, after lunch, Dadang was on the second floor of a house, painting the walls with a brush. The painting was not yet finished when suddenly an earthquake struck. It felt incredibly strong. However, everything around seemed fine, with no damaged buildings. “Thank goodness,” he muttered.

About five minutes after the earthquake, his mobile phone rang in his shorts pocket. It was his wife calling.

“The house collapsed.”

His body trembled. Dadang began to panic; this information was entirely different from what he had seen. He tried calling his wife again, filled with worry. The signal had vanished, and there was no mobile network or internet. Both had completely disappeared. He hurried home, not caring about the work equipment that should have been taken with him. From Padaluyu Village to Sukawangi Village. Fifteen days after his birthday, he never expected this event to happen in his life.

“When I saw the house upon returning, it had indeed collapsed. From that moment on, I had to accept it,” Dadang recalled.

Dadang saw his house in ruins, walls turned into rubble. He searched for his entire family, starting with his siblings, mother, and father. He wanted to make sure they were all safe. However, he couldn’t find his wife. This was what worried him the most. His wife was pregnant.

Dadang shows a photo of his collapsed house

“Now, where is my wife? When I looked down, she was in the rice field, as it turned out. At that time, her clothes were all dirty, and she had run to the rice field out of fear of falling debris,” he explained.

Dadang and his family then calmed themselves down, gathered together, and sought a safe place. At that time, there were no disaster response centers.

Dadang’s wife began to tell her story. She had been watching TV at home when the earthquake happened. All the doors were closed. As soon as the earthquake struck, she rushed out of the house as fast as she could. Just one step after she stepped out of the door, her house collapsed.

Of course, this story moved Dadang and, at the same time, relieved him because his wife and their unborn child were safe. This story was similar to what his older brother experienced. He heard that his brother’s child had been trapped inside a store owned by his wife’s parents. Dadang explained that due to the panicked situation, the door was slightly closed and not locked tightly, making it difficult to open.

“Usually, they just played around in the store, and it wasn’t properly locked. They didn’t know there would be an earthquake. Before the store collapsed, my nephew was successfully pulled out by my mother,” Dadang explained.

After the earthquake, his nephew still experienced shock. Even when Dadang told this story, the shock was still there. Every time he heard a slightly loud noise or rumbling, his nephew would get scared. Dadang said it had gotten better now. He compared it to the time when they were living in a disaster response tent. The presence of the kindergarten (TK) teachers who volunteered for trauma healing played a significant role. They were always actively accompanying Dadang’s nephew, whether reading stories or just chatting.


According to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), the earthquake in Cianjur on November 21, 2022, had a magnitude of 5.6. The people of Cianjur suffered significant material losses, casualties, and injuries, with severe damage occurring in many places.

Still on the same day when the earthquake occurred, Cindy Mutia Annur reported through that around 700 people were injured, and 46 people died. There was also severe damage to several buildings, including 343 houses, 1 Islamic boarding school, 4 government buildings in Cianjur, 3 educational facilities, 1 place of worship, 1 store, 1 café, some roads were cut off, and Cianjur Regional Hospital (RSUD) also suffered damage. This information caught the attention of the entire Indonesian population, who were waiting for the kick-off of the 2022 World Cup match between Senegal and the Netherlands at 5:00 PM local time.

Tabletop Exercise Activities

In the face of such a situation, the urgent need for recovery and strengthening of community resilience to future disasters became essential. As a response to this event, we have implemented emergency response measures and early recovery programs in the affected areas.

After completing the emergency response phase in February 2023, the next step is to shift the focus to recovery efforts and building community resilience through the Cianjur Earthquake 2023 Transition Phase program. In this context, a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) training program is planned as an integral part of the DRR output.

To build community resilience to disasters and reduce potential risks in the future, the formation of DESTANA (Disaster Resilient Village) is needed in the village.

After conducting a socialization program for the Formation of KMPB (CDMGs) in Sukawangi Village on August 8, 2023, we continued constructive steps to build community resilience and mitigate disaster risks in Sukawangi Village, Warungkondang Subdistrict.

The next activity was holding a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with members of the DESTANA Forum, which is a vital part of the formation of DESTANA in Sukawangi Village. This activity took place for six days starting on August 22, 2023, at the Gor Sehati.

One month later, we continued activities to build community resilience and mitigate disaster risks for residents of Sukawangi Village. This phase involved conducting Disaster Emergency Response Training (TDB) activities, which not only involved F-DRR members but also targeted DESTANA volunteers. The culmination of these efforts was a collaboration with residents in organizing simulations through Tactical Floor Games (TFG) and Tabletop Exercises (TTX) on September 15-16, 2023.


Dadang carried victim who were crushed by debris

The sports center in Sukawangi Village had changed its function to become the village office since it was damaged after the earthquake in Cianjur in November 2022. Meanwhile, the old village office would be transformed into a Village-Owned Enterprise (BUMDes). This projection would add to the income of Sukawangi Village, in addition to rice processing, fertilizer sales, and field rentals at the Gor Sehati.

Badminton was the most popular sport among the residents of Sukawangi Village, from schoolchildren to community members or working individuals. The badminton court had been available for the past two years, with a rental fee of Rp 15,000.00 per hour or a monthly fee of Rp 120,000.00, which provided access to the court for up to 4 hours a day. This sport was more profitable for Sukawangi Village than providing a mini soccer field.

“(Mini soccer) didn’t last for even a year. First, it was because of COVID-19, and secondly, there wasn’t much interest. Plus, the waiting time was long. So, for example, if there were four teams that wanted to use it, they had to take turns. The same court was used by everyone. With badminton, there were many teams who wanted to play, and they could all play. With mini soccer, if there were just four teams, there would still be a long wait,” Dadang explained the change in the use of the Gor Sehat.

The windows were no longer sealed to prevent strong winds, as in indoor badminton courts. Some lights on the walls were also damaged, with some already fallen and broken. However, the roof that had collapsed had been repaired. Several glass partition walls were added to the corners of the room, including a desk for village office staff. This meant that sports activities had to be temporarily suspended.

“The old village office was already destroyed. So, we moved here temporarily, and the office is now here, in Gor Sehati. A month after the earthquake, there were already markers for the new building, but construction hadn’t started yet. Three months later, construction finally began,” Dadang said, pointing to a partially finished building painted white in front of the Gor Sehati.

The new Sukawangi Village Office was in the process of construction, with about 70% completion. The plan was for the building to be completed in September or October, which should have been ready for use by the end of August.

“It stopped before August. Around July. It should have been finished by the end of August, but it only resumed on Thursday, August 24, 2023.”

In May 2023, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (PUPR) through the Directorate General (Ditjen) of Cipta Karya accelerated the repair of government-owned buildings and public facilities affected by the earthquake in Cianjur. According to their official website, the priority was given to heavily damaged and moderately damaged buildings, including educational facilities, health facilities, offices, places of worship, landfills, and optimizing the Drinking Water Supply System.

There were 278 buildings in need of repair, scattered across 8 subdistricts in Cianjur Regency. The Sukawangi Village Office was one of them. Educational facilities were also included, such as one early childhood education (PAUD) building and several primary schools (SD), although repairs had not yet been evenly distributed. SD Sukawangi 1 was one of the buildings that had not received repairs.

“There was a PAUD building that was damaged, but it has been repaired. It can be used now, but it hasn’t been officially inaugurated,” Dadang explained.


Dadang poses with the evacuation team

Dadang no longer worked as a construction worker. A few months ago, the Village Head asked Dadang to work as an employee at the Sukawangi Village Office.

Dadang played a vital role in ensuring the smooth running of the FGD activities. He was also actively involved as a DESTANA volunteer in the TFG and TTX simulation. He opened the Gor Sehati as early as 6:30 AM, turning on the lights and preparing all the necessary equipment. He arranged the tables, made sure the sound system was working, and was always the first to arrive and the last to leave. If there was an event that went on late into the night, he would return home past midnight.

His daily life was spent at the Gor Sehati. If there was an event on Saturday or Sunday, it meant he had no days off. This meant his primary life had shifted here, while his home had become a secondary life. Dadang laughed as he told the story.

As of the time of writing, Dadang had not received any assistance for the renovation of his house. His living location was adjacent to his older brother’s house and his parents’ house. Out of these three buildings, Dadang’s house had suffered the most severe damage and was no longer suitable for living.

On March 6, 2023, four months after the earthquake, Dadang was still living in a disaster response tent. His wife experienced intense abdominal contractions. It was time to give birth, he thought. He started forcing himself to borrow money. Their financial situation was not good at that time. Moreover, the need for childbirth was urgent. Not to mention the location for giving birth; he had to ask his neighbors for temporary accommodation.

“My child was born here, in this tent. In this area. In those bricks, that’s the leftover. That’s where the tents were set up for childbirth,” he said, pointing out the location of the disaster response tents used for childbirth.

Dadang would never forget the presence of volunteers from the Indonesian Family Planning Association (PKBI) West Java. They helped Dadang’s wife give birth in the disaster response tent.

“They brought my wife here, and there was no cost at all,” Dadang remembered.

His child was born safely. Dadang never wanted to forget that help. He then helped the PKBI team clean the disaster response tent every morning. In the evenings, he accompanied the doctor who was working as a volunteer.

“I can’t express it in words. I was wondering how much it would cost to go to a midwife. But I didn’t have the money. I was already in a difficult situation. The house was destroyed, and my wife was about to give birth. How could the baby be born in a hot tent?” Dadang murmured, his eyes welling up.

The earthquake in Cianjur might be forgotten, but the trauma still remained. Dadang still often felt his heart race whenever there was a vibration or aftershock, like the one last June.

“After my child was born, I had to start trying on my own. I had to be self-reliant. Volunteers can’t always help. Surely, they have other jobs,” Dadang concluded his story. He wiped his eyes with his left hand.

Article: Nicolaus Sulistyo

Photo: Anom Pascima & Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation