With the pride and excitement of the festive celebrations and Jatituhu students’ achievements in competitions and on stage during our Indonesian Independence Day event still resonating in Jatituhu community, the children all got down to more serious studying at school at the end of August, with some of our GlobalGiving sponsored primary students now in junior high school.
The happy atmosphere in Jatituhu abruptly turned to fear on the 13th September when Mount Agung (one of Indonesia’s dozens of active volcanoes) started rumbling and the government announced the danger level of Mount Agung had risen to II (alert) from I, meaning there was a potential threat of eruption. Living only 9 kilometres from Mount Agung crater, minor earthquakes were not unusual, but this eruption alert drove panic into the communities, with elders recalling the devastation of the last Mount Agung eruption in 1963, when they’d no roads, transport or communication.
The government advised all the 19 Desa Ban communities to be ready to evacuate if the threat level increased. Five days later, on 18thSeptember, they raised the alert level to III, standby, causing worry and confusion as they saw clouds of thick black smoke coming from the crater!
On 22nd September, after continuous and stronger Mount Agung earthquakes, at exactly 8.30pm, the alert level was raised to IV, indicating an imminent eruption, and everybody living within 12km of Mount Agung crater, including all the residents of Desa Ban, were ordered to immediately evacuate to safer locations. All the people were confused; they didn’t know where to run or what to do! This grave and urgent situation caused panic and all the Jatituhu residents just ran to unmade public roads and followed their neighbours down the mountain slopes, arriving a few hours later at emergency shelters prepared by the government in the adjacent regency of Buleleng, over 35 km from Jatituhu School. The next day, reality set in and, apart from the worry of leaving all their possessions at home during the panic exodus, their main concern was for their livestock of cows, pigs and goats left in their pens; as we know, their animals are their only wealth at home so they had no alternative but to go back home to take care of and feed them!
The difficulty of living in refugee camps was a new experience for our students and to fill their spare time, Jatituhu students took the initiative to entertain other refugees by performing Balinese cultural dances."We are very proud of the students of Jatituhu; although they are struggling in the refugee camps, they also have the initiative to entertain others," said the government committee at the refugee camp. Our students also enrolled at the nearest schools from their refugee camps during the evacuation period. EBPP team regularly monitored and gave the necessary assistance to make sure all our students can attend to the schools to continue their education
After a month, on October 29th, the government declared the earthquake activity at Gunung Agung had dropped dramatically, and lowered its status from level IV to level III, permitting the people living outside the radius of 7.5 km from Gunung Agung, including Jatituhu, to go home! Nevertheless, all people are to remain vigilant, because at any time, the status could rise again – and erupt without warning.
Coincidental, two days preparations could begin for Galungan Day, which falls on November 1st, and Kuningan Day on 11 November, the most important religious ceremonies for Hindus in Bali. During this period, the schools took 2 weeks off for the ceremonies, which also gave time for EBPP team to prepare everything to restart our schools activities on 13thNovember. The EBPP team started to clean up the offices in Dusun Ban which had been abandoned as it was in the hazard zone, as well as moving the office equipment from the temporary office, at EBPP Chairman’s house in the adjacent village of Tianyar Timor during evacuation period.
Now, starting this week, 13th November, our 12 sponsored students and other Jatituhu School students can return to study as before. Even though the situation is still on alert status, with frequent earthquakes, all the students are highly motivated and aspire to be successfully continued to higher education and hope the knowledge they gain can be beneficial and can bring a better future for all the residents of Jatituhu.
Terima kasih Global giving crowd funding for its support and providing successful opportunities for 12 impoverished students from Jatituhu School.