On September 28, 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami, setting off one of Indonesia’s most devastating natural disasters in recent history. AJWS immediately connected with local organizations on the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi to provide urgent material aid to those who need it most, and is now working to support long-term assistance for people to rebuild their communities — and their lives.

Devastation in Indonesia

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The Problems

The earthquake shook Sulawesi to its core, and the resulting tsunami sent waters rising over 20 feet hurtling towards the coast. In minutes, entire villages were swept away as the earth turned to liquid and violently swallowed buildings, cars and people. The destruction in the city of Palu, and its surrounding villages, was utterly devastating. In the wake of the disaster, over 200,000 people needed immediate critical aid. Over 70,000 people were left homeless, sleeping on the ground and searching for missing children, parents and neighbors under the mud and rubble.

Though the official death toll climbed to over 2,000, thousands of people remained missing. After less than two weeks, the Indonesian government called off all official search efforts — declaring the mountains of rubble mass graves. Thousands of people may never be found.

Meanwhile, critical, lifesaving aid remained scarce. In the days after the disaster, makeshift hospitals struggled to meet the desperate needs of the injured; water and food were extremely limited.

As Sulawesi shifts from immediate response to long-term recovery, the communities and villages devastated by this disaster will need significant support — for their needs to be met and their voices to be heard.

Our Response

AJWS is staying the course with our longstanding strategy for natural disaster relief: collaborating with local organizations to understand exactly what they need, and who needs it most.

We opened the Indonesia Disaster Relief Fund and set to work with local partners to provide immediate material aid and to plan for the long, difficult road ahead: rebuilding lives utterly torn apart by this disaster.

AJWS is currently supporting organizations that are working to:

  • Distribute relief packages for mothers with young children and babies
  • Reconstruct homes that are resilient and environmentally-friendly, in locations best-placed to withstand future disasters
  • Establish a community center and free kitchen run by local women
  • Empower youth and women’s groups to lead recovery efforts for the most vulnerable communities

AJWS will remain flexible in our approach supporting survivors of this disaster, and we’re working to reach those who often benefit less from traditional humanitarian aid.



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