It was late afternoon in Way Muli Village, Lampung Selatan District. With a friendly smile on his face, Jumani handed a stack of assessment forms that have been filled from his interview with several persons with disabilities in the community that day.
Jumani is part of the team of around 10 persons with disabilities who have been recently trained by Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) to conduct an assessment of the impact of the tsunami in Sunda Strait – particularly in severaldevastated villages in the sub-district of Rajabasa, Lampung Selatan. The assessment focuses on identifying persons with disabilities and learning the impact of the tsunami including to their livelihood.
“It’s funny because normally in late afternoon like this I would go out looking for fish, now I’m out looking for my peers, persons with disabilities in the neighbouring villages, to be interviewed,” says Jumani jokingly. Before the tsunami hit his village of East Wai Muli, Jumani worked as a fisherman. He used a small boat that belongs to a group of fishermen, which they normally used to catch fish not far from the shoreline. Now, just like 67 other fishermen in the village, Jumani lost his boat due to the tsunami.
“My boat took me to the shore safely, a few hours after the tsunami. But then the waves were still very big, even after the tsunami. When I came back the next morning, my boat was totally wrecked” Jumani explains.
That eventful night of December 22, 2018, Jumani happened to be out fishing together with his 4 friends. After the eruption of Anak Krakatau, he saw a huge rising tide coming from the west side of the mountain. “I desperately wanted to scream out of my lungs to remind the people in my village that a very high wave was coming to hit them. But the roar of the waves was nothing like I had heard before, and then everything happened so quickly. I could only hold on to my boat and helplessly watch as the huge wave hit my village, right when they were sleeping” recalls Jumani.
In his helplessness, Jumani saw two persons were heaved into the open water. He and his fellow fishermen in the boat took an immediate response to help them. Jumani and his friends were able to save those two persons from the sea, but the mourning over the disaster isstill overwhelming. “If only people knew what to do when disaster strikes, more lives would have been saved,” Jumani says in a grieving tone.
On another note, Jumani highlights his experience surviving the tsunami as a person with disabilities. “I know that persons with disabilities like me would face extra difficulties evacuating during a disaster, so I’m happy that now I can reach out to more persons with disabilities together with ASB” Jumani asserted.
In addition to the assessment, ASB is also working with the local Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) to conduct outreach and teach safety messages regarding earthquake, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, the three main hazards in the area. ASB trains and mentors the DPO members to distribute the safety messages to their communities in Lampung Selatan.
“These are all new knowledge and experience for our DPO. I am happy that while trying to rebuild my life, I have the opportunity to be involved and contribute something to my community. Our next plan is to present our assessment result to the Social Welfare Department and the local Disaster Management Office. I’m happy to do something to make sure our voices are heard” says Jumani. This optimistic note aptly reflects the strength and resilience of the local community, in particular of persons with disabilities that ASB has been working with during the emergency response in Lampung Selatan. (Chrysant Lily, edit: Taarna Grimsley)