Indonesia, Nias community learns how to prepare for future disasters

News and Press Release
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By Vina Agustina, International Federation information delegate in Banda Aceh

Dozens of children crowd excitedly around Juwita Kristina Zebua, a 24-year-old Indonesian Red Cross volunteer in Nias. They watch with fascination as she demonstrates cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid using mannequins.

'What will you do if you see somebody is injured?' asks Juwita.

'Help him!' yell the primary school students in unison.

'Who knows what to do first?' Juwita asks.. The students compete with each other to describe what they know.

The children are participating in the Red Cross 'Raise and be Aware' exhibition to commemorate the third year of the Nias earthquake. Watching the presentation with close attention, the students realize that first aid requires a lot practice and concentration.

'It is so interesting to see how the Red Cross volunteers help the people in need with first aid,' says 13-year-old Yarna Nias Zebua. 'By seeing the demo, I realize that it is not easy to do this work.'

The Indian Ocean earthquake struck Nias Island on 26 December 2004 and created a 10 metre-high tsunami that left 140 people killed and hundreds homeless. Three months later, on 28 March 2005, the island was left devastated by an earthquake. This time, more than 850 people died and 6,000 were left injured. Hundreds of buildings were collapsed and 80,000 people lost their homes.

The Red Cross is using the commemoration to help increase the awareness and importance of disaster risk reduction amongst the communities on the island of Nias.

'I think it is a great strategy for the villagers to prepare themselves for a better future by informing them the essence of disaster preparedness,' says Harefa 'We will never know when disaster comes. Being prepared is the best technique to reduce risks and casualties.'

The Indonesian Red Cross in Nias started a disaster management program this past February. Integrated with community-based first aid program, Red Cross volunteers spread the disaster preparedness information throughout villages. This programme will soon be expanded to 24 villages in Lahewa sub-district.

'Together with the communities, the Indonesian Red Cross will support them in reducing the risk and establish the early warning system locally,' says Rosmawati Harefa, disaster management staff of Indonesian Red Cross Nias branch.