Vice Minister of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Visits GMIT’s Cyclone Seroja Synod Emergency Response Post

Vice Minister of PUPR and his entourage at GMIT’s Synod office grounds

KUPANG,, Vice Minister of PUPR, John Wempi Wetipo, together with East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial staff visited the GMIT’s Synod Emergency Response headquarters, located in the guest house of the synod offices on Thursday, 22 April at 10:00 a.m.

After being welcomed by GMIT’s synod executive council, Wempi explained that his presence in NTT was a follow-up to the visit of President Jokowi and the Minister of Public Works and Public Housing Mochamad Hadimoeljono on 10 April 2021, for the purpose of assuring effective disaster response.  

According to Wempi, during his visit he hopes to receive input from GMIT’s leadership regarding what forms of aid can be cooperatively deployed together with the ministry of PUPR in response to the disaster.

Responding to the Vice Minister, GMIT Synod Moderator Rev. Mery Kolimon, who is also the coordinator of the emergency response team, expressed her thanks for Wempi’s visit along with his entire entourage, while also reporting on what had been done so far and noting several needs and challenges GMIT faced in providing disaster response in its area of ministry. These included:

First, based on visits by Synod leadership with the Moderator of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia to the areas most affected by the storm, such as Alor-Pantar, Sabu-Raijua, Kupang, Malaka, and Rote-Ndao, where tens of thousands of houses and many churches had been destroyed, Rev. Mery asked for help from the Ministry  in designing disaster-resistant buildings, including churches, in order to insure the quality of the rebuilding process.

“In Sabu the churches were leveled to the ground. This event is an education for us as a church, that we need standards of quality when we build churches; we can’t just do whatever we want.  There needs to be consultation with Public Works, and there should be some quality standards and inspections for the churches we build.  On this point we ask for the help of the Ministry, and especially the local NTT offices.

Secondly, the hesitancy of the government to declare Cyclone Seroja a national disaster raises the question as to whether the provincial government has the resources to handle the scale of destruction we have experienced here?

“We are concerned that if this major catastrophe is not classified as a national disaster, will our provincial government be capable of handling it? For this reason we are very grateful for your visit, Mr. Vice Minister. Please help us, for we live with our congregations, and if they have to live in tents for months on end, there will be much illness. What is more, we in NTT were already struggling with child stunting, poor nutrition, a high rate of maternal and infant mortality, human trafficking, and many other problems.”

Third, we need synergy between the church and government agencies in dealing with economic recovery as a result of failed harvests and extensive damage to agricultural lands, as well as the potential of food shortages.

Fourth, GMIT is seeking support from many partners both nationally and internationally, carrying out distribution of aid and providing psychological support to victims through programs of trauma healing.

Fifth, we ask for the support of the PUPR Ministry for our efforts at renovating our synod office and for the continuation of building the GMIT Center.

“We ask for your support if possible concerning the condition of our office building.  It was built in 1987, so it was already beginning to show its age when it was further damaged by Cyclone Seroja. Next to it, we are also in the midst of building another building, but it is still far from finished. So we ask that you consider lending your support to these efforts as a sign of commemorating your visit to us,” said Rev. Mery.

Representing the Christian fellowship within the PUPR Ministry, John Wempi Wetipo hands over disaster aid in the amount of Rp. 50 million

Representing the Christian fellowship within the PUPR Ministry, John Wempi Wetipo hands over disaster aid in the amount of Rp. 50 million.

Responding to the input of GMIT’s Moderator, the Vice Minister of PUPR said that he was in the process of gathering data on the extent of damages to the infrastructure in order to plan for reconstruction, but that not all damages could be handled by the government. 

“Regarding the matters mentioned by the Moderator, our team is currently gathering data.  We may not be able to repair all damages, but we will certainly make the most of infrastructure repairs to damages due to the storm, in accordance with the directions given by the President and the Minister recently,” said Wempi.

After the dialogue, Wempi respresented the Christian fellowship within the PUPR Ministry in delivering emergency aid in the amount of Rp. 50 million.

Before departing, Wempi and his group surveyed the damages done to the Synod offices and the GMIT Center. ***

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