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Habitat for Humanity Completes 160 Houses In Earthquake-affected Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Volunteers from Dow Chemicals and Surabaya International School helped in reconstruction

YOGYAKARTA, 6th October 2006: A total of 160 houses have been completed in Yogyakarta since a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesia island of Java in late May 2006.

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New lease of life: A completed house in Sribit village, Bantul district. A total of 30 houses have been built for earthquake-affected families in the village.

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Corporate help: Dow volunteers grading sand to be used in house construction in Guwo village

The 160 houses built are in the villages of Sribit, Kelegen, Kralas in the Bantul district, south of the capital Yogyakarta. More than 6,000 people died in the earthquake with over half of the deaths occurring in Bantul.

The earthquake also damaged 135,000 houses and left an estimated 1.5 million people homeless. Boosting reconstruction efforts were volunteer teams, ranging from private corporations to international school students.

Dow Chemicals, a long-time Habitat partner, sent three teams comprising 10 persons each to assist in reconstruction in Guwo village. Dow is funding the construction of 25 houses in Guwo village in Klaten district, 30 km. northeast of Yogyakarta.

Among the tasks that the volunteers tackled were the clearing of debris, digging of foundation and grading of sand. One of the Dow volunteers, Joko Priyatmoko, said: “As long as we have the ability to help others, that’s what we must do. It’s a calling for me to come here and help them.”

The first Dow team that went to Guwo village was joined by director of Dow Chemicals Indonesia, Bambang Candrasiswoyo, and director of Dow Chemicals Asia Pacific, Vorapong Vorasuntharosoth.

“Habitat’s program really represents the essence of humanity; building houses for those in need. This is consistent with Dow’s values,” said Mr Bambang.

Messrs Bambang and Vorapong also visited another reconstruction project in Kralas village. Most of the houses were in the final stages of completion.

The students did not lag far behind the corporate volunteers when it came to lending a hand.

A total of 20 students from the Surabaya International School arrived in Guwo village on 20th September to contribute their labor. Working alongside the partners, the students dug holes for foundation and bent wires.

The students find the experience interesting and some such as Melyana was moved: “Today we had worked very hard but I’m very happy now. Because we did not just work for ourselves, but for other people. That’s something we can be proud of.”

Agreeing, T Mayer, an assistant teacher from Surabaya International School, said: “By helping others, they will also feel better about themselves.”

While it has been a positive experience for the volunteers, the community benefited from some much needed cheer. Celebrating Independence Day in Indonesia has always been a communal tradition. This year, even though the Kelegen village was shaken by the earthquake, the villagers’ spirit was not crushed.

To mark the occasion, volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Yogyakarta organized games for the villagers. Children had fun trying to be the first to finish eating a cracker while others aimed to be the fastest in the sack race. Dexterity skills were put to the test during the “panjat pinang” race in which contestants had to climb oiled coconut trees.

A Kelegen villager, Budiman, said: “There is not much entertainment here since the earthquake. (The games) can relieve our burden for a while and lift our spirits.”

Most of the 30 houses being constructed in Kelegen village are near completion.