Story of Mak Ara who stay in a communal tent in Talaga Village

It was a sunny afternoon on Thursday, 1 December 2022, when the YEU response team visited a communal tent in Talaga Village in Cugenang sub-district. The team conducted an assessment to identify the condition, need and the gaps experienced by at-risk communities, either in the communal tent or in the household tent. An elderly lady was seen walking around the tent and invited them to come inside her tent, to see the condition inside a communal tent.

She is affectionately called Mak Ara by her family and neighbors. She is an 80 year old person who survived the devastated earthquake (5.6 magnitude) that hit Cianjur District on 21 November 2022. On the severity of the disaster, it has affected more than 15 sub-districts, with 331 death casualties and 11 persons are still missing, as per report on Tuesday (02/12). The total number of displaced populations is 114,683 people, including the affected community in Mak Ara’s village.

As they entered the communal tent, Mak Ara was seen together with her daughter whom she called Ai. Mak Ara recalled that when the earthquake struck the area, she was on the terrace of her house. As the earth rocked, she tried to stand up and to save herself. However, the strong earthquake made her fall and the ruins suddenly hit her arm. Fortunately, she was soon rescued and received medical treatment. Because of her frail condition combined with her old age, she has to go to regular medical treatment and will go to the nearest health facility, accompanied by Ai.

It has been 12 days since she and her family stayed in the communal tent, because there was no other option for them as their houses were damaged. They have to deal with the uncertainty as to how long they will stay in the communal tent. Their situation is exacerbated by the unpredictable weather conditions, during the day the weather is very hot and at night it is cold because the location of the village is in a hilly area. Sometimes when it rained, the rainwater got into the tent and wet the bed or mattresses which made sleeping difficult. In addition, they have to bear the strong wind. The living condition in the communal tent is hard with fear of disease threats, such as diarrhea, gastritis, and skin diseases.

Observing the situation, YEU team distributed blankets to at-risk persons in the tent, including older persons, persons with disability and people with chronic diseases. Mr. Salim, the camp coordinator in Talaga, helped YEU to distribute the blankets to Mak Ara and her family and other families. They were content with the relief items received as they once shared that they urgently need blankets, mattresses, and medicines.

Mak Ara hopes that their situation will improve soon and that there will be government support to repair the damaged houses and to recover their livelihood. Mak Ara is very grateful for any assistance received from different entities, communities, humanitarian volunteers and humanitarian agencies as they help her through the difficult situation in the communal tent. (Leo Zulfikar/YEU)