New Pages: 491 houses were burned

Saturday, August 13, 2005

491 houses were burned

It’s happened on 1st of August, almost two weeks ago at Kelurahan Cambaya Kecamatan Ujung Tanah, northern Makassar. But until yesterday I haven’t heard any further reconstruction activities taken by public sectors.
Thus today I decided to visit the location.
It is a fisherman village, not far from Paotere traditional port.
It was 9:30 in the morning, I tried to meet Pak Lurah [head of village], but he wasn’t around, thus I went directly to the location, accompanied by one of the inhabitants.

The houses were really closed to one another, it’s looks like a shanty-town, divided into two locations: landed houses and ‘rumah panggung’[elevated wooden house] which stand on the sea. The condition is really bad. 90% of their houses were burned. Leftover of elevated houses are only burned columns. Size of each house is approximately 5x6 m2 at most.
Those who lived in ‘rumah panggung’ should stay in temporary tents, while those who had landed houses have better condition, since there are still walls to cover from heavy sea-wind.

Most of their occupations are fishermen, some of them are Tukang Becak [similar to rickshaw] that unfortunately the Becak has been completely burned, only burn frames left behind.

After seeing around—I felt bad, when one of the victim said “kaya’ kebun binatang saja, dilihat-lihat…”. I tried my best to communicate with them, but his reaction is understandable.

I went to Pak Lurah—he was there finally, managing the donations and distributions to the victims—and tried to talk with him.
From him I knew that Dinas Pekerjaan Umum [Public Works Dinas] has started the measurement and will start the reconstruction as soon as possible.
In the meantime a person who introduced himself as one of the consultant from P2KP [Poverty Alleviation Program in Urban Area]
I understand they must be suspicious, what the heck this Chinese woman thinks she can do?

MArI! is a NGO that is established by some architects in Bandung with special interest on reconstruction of post-conflict/disaster area.
I am part of them…and we are still new.

The reason why I went to Cambaya was—and still is—to see how we can help them if there is no continuation for their settlement reconstruction.

I feel desperate sometimes; when I realized one Yuli cannot do much.