IFAW's Jennifer Miller Reports on Flooding from Sulawesi.
This is the first report I have been able to send since arriving in Sulawesi. As usual, you have a better chance finding a typewriter than you do finding an internet connection in these remote areas. Also, we haven’t been able to arrive back at our base before midnight every night. This is largely based on the travel between where we sleep and the disaster location, about a 3 hour drive each way. Between here and there there’s nothing more than homes large enough for all 10 family members.
Our first day in Luwuk (North East-ish on the island was occupied with going here and there, meeting this person and the next person. We needed to make sure we met everyone; the Mayor, the third person in line for Governor, the local police, etc. By 9pm all hand shakes were had and permits made so we then began to prepare for our first day in the field.
Prior to our arrival Dr. Aditya, veterinarian and director of C.A.R.E., had completed a 2 day assessment of areas that were reachable at that time. His reports to IFAW explained the impact the floods and mudslides had on villages, the animals in need, which were mostly livestock, and the potential for more animals in need in the areas still without access.
The only mode of transport into those inaccessible areas was by helicopter, and still is by helicopter.
Our first destination was to a large village called Toili. We arrived just in time for the daily village meeting where people are allowed to raiser concerns and ask for assistance from the village chief. We were invited to enter and introduce ourselves and get a feeling for what is was the community was looking for in way of getting aid to animals in the area.
The village chief initiated the introduction and explained who we were and what we were hoping to be able to provide. He stressed the importance of caring for animals in relation to supporting the success of the local economy. “In order for us to be able to survive and make money, we need to care for our animals.” I thought that was extremely positive! Maybe the reference is not the liking of “animal welfare” so to say, but it’s a definite step forward in protecting animals in these rural parts of the world. An acknowledgement of the reality and the concept we “outsiders” need to expect when working in these areas: How does saving animals in turn help humans…
For the whole day we moved through the village (divided into 4 sections) treating the animals in need of most critical care, having to pass over several that did not have serious injuries, in order to get to the others. As I write this, our team is preparing to return for a full days work in the same village, and we intend to be able to reach all animals.
The rain has held off, so most of the mud covered farms, roads, yards, and houses are drying up. Imagine a 1 foot deep layer of mud stretched over miles resting until the next rain comes to wash it away. This doesn’t provide good footing for humans or livestock. But just as we saw with the flooding in Jakarta, these people know how to make something out of nothing and their optimism is unbelievable.