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Good Neighbor Insurance Helps to Rebuild a Devastated People

ICC Note:

Christian NGO Good Neighbor Insurance leads the way in Indonesia earthquake assistance

By Jeff Gulleson

12/01/09 Indonesia (ANS) — Good Neighbor Insurance is working with one NGO to help the Minangkabau (or the Minang people) of Indonesia to rebuild after a devastating earthquake.

Victims of the September 30 earthquake that destroyed whole villages and killed hundreds of people in Sumatra, Indonesia, still live in appalling conditions, despite the fact that the Indonesian government has begun reconstruction projects. “What is needed are more teams who can go in for short durations of up to 2 plus weeks to help distribute food and medical and building supplies,” says Frank in a recent interview with him in Indonesia.

The nation of Indonesia is an archipelago of about 6,000 inhabited islands located just north of Australia. Its estimated 237 million people belong to around 700 different ethnic groups, most of whom are concentrated in the various homelands they have had for centuries. Just as the earthquake and tsunami of 2004 devastated the homeland of the Aceh people, the earthquake on September 30, 2009 near Padang, West Sumatra has devastated the small homeland of the Minang people.

More than 1100 dead have been accounted for in West Sumatra. An estimated 135,000 homes have been severely damaged, and more than one million people affected.

Frank and his small national team of Indonesian pastors visited areas where entire villages had been swept away by landslides. He recounted seeing four story buildings that had collapsed like accordions, and one market place destruction that killed 400 shoppers.

Although the death toll is nowhere near the numbers of the Ache earthquake and tsunami, the destruction is significant. Most families have only temporary shelter which is often small and crowded. Schools still need temporary shelters so that they can reopen until permanent buildings are built. With all of the chaos and destruction, some of the outlying areas are still in need of basic relief. Local Indonesian relief workers are also in need of training to increase the number of hands available to help in West Sumatra.

“Earthquakes have continued to hit various parts of Indonesia,” one NGO coordinator stated. “But the Minang will need help long after the news has moved on other tragedies.”

“Padang has three sectors,” recounts Frank. “The Muslim sector is totally closed to foreign help. But both the Chinese sector and the Muslim-Christian sector are open for relief and development services, at least for now.” Frank admits that the door may not be open for long, and he urges churches and charity groups to support local Asian teams for reconstruction projects.

While many NGOs have workers on the ground in West Sumatra, staff at Good Neighbor Insurance contribute to the rebuilding effort by working with one NGO to raise funds for relief supplies. It is important that we help these people in a practical way. This is a time of great grief for them. Good Neighbor Insurance hopes to help the NGO raise $100,000 for the relief effort in West Sumatra.