FIELD STORY: Finding Gratitude in Providing Help to Jabodetabek and Karawang Flood Survivors

Let me introduce myself. My name is Wahyu Fitriani, Humanitarian & Resilience Program (HRP) Logistics Officer at Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia). I am in charge of daily operations and administration in the program. In late February, I challenged myself to try something different. For the first time, I became a part of Plan Indonesia’s emergency response team.

Wahyu Fitriani (Kanan)

From February 24th to March 10th, 2021, the emergency response team worked to help the Greater Jakarta (Jabodetabek) and Karawang area flood survivors. We focused on those who lived in the Bekasi and Karawang Regencies—the two areas impacted heavily by the rain and flood. We distributed a set of emergency tool kit (tarpaulins, blankets, mats) and family hygiene kits (buckets, toiletries, diapers, sanitary pads, and more) for the families. In total, the aid was distributed to 2,700 families or 8,244 beneficiaries.

The team and I arrived at the first response area, a village in the Karawang Regency on Wednesday (24/2). According to Plan Indonesia’s internal research, it was a village that got the least help after the flood. It was assumed that such a situation happened as the village was in a remote area, approximately 20-minutes of a motorcycle ride from the nearby National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) post.

When we arrived at the site, we found a piling amount of mud, covering the road and the citizens’ houses up to 5-10 centimetres high. According to the locals, they were not able to clear up the mud as tools were scarce. The rain density was also quite high, leaving the road swamped with another flood after the first days of rain. Aside from that, they were faced with the difficulty of access, as a bridge that connected areas in the village were destroyed by the flood. As if it was not enough, they also didn’t have enough clean water. The villagers had to wait for supplies from the BNPB or other volunteers to take a bath, cook, or wash their clothes.

As we found out about the situation, the Plan Indonesia emergency response team tried to move as fast as we could. However, we faced some challenges.

There was difficulty to match the citizens’ register, which then required us to verify and readjust the data before we could start the distribution. We also had to be precise and firm during the aid distribution, so that the citizens would adhere to the COVID-19 health protocols during the process. To ensure their safety, we worked together with volunteers, neighbourhood leaders, as well as government officials during the distribution process.

Yet, despite the challenges, I remained in high spirit. I tried to give my best to the survivors. Through my first experience as an emergency responder, I gained a lot of knowledge. I was able to learn to interact with the survivors, identify the correct and available aid distribution, as well as to create a mechanism that was suited to real-time conditions.

Everything was new to me and I was grateful to learn them. To me, this was a rare experience. Before joining Plan Indonesia, I was only able to help the disaster survivors through donations. I never had the experience to work directly with the survivors on-site.

That was why I didn’t hesitate when I learned about the opportunity to work with Plan Indonesia’s emergency response team in the Greater Jakarta-Karawang emergency flood response. Hailing from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, I joined the other two response team members in Karawang Regency, then to the Bekasi Regency.

One of the most memorable things from this response was the distribution process in Bekasi Regency. That time, we were in the middle of distributing(March 10th),to a survivor family with the other volunteers. When we arrived, the family’s house was still damp from the flood. The floor was especially damp, as there was nothing to cover the bare ground.

As the family received aid from Plan Indonesia, they expressed their immense gratitude to us. They immediately used the emergency shelter tool kit to cover the ground, to make the house more accessible in the meantime. The way they said their gratitude, the way their expression brightened when they received the help will remain in my memory. I am very grateful to be able to learn and to share with others through this emergency response.

Written by Wahyu Fitriani, Humanitarian & Resilience Program (HRP) Logistics Officer, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia