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Taking flushing toilets for granted

Yesterday quite a miracle happened at our office! For the first time since I got here, it was actually possible to flush the toilet! OK, this only worked once. But it was quite amazing not having to pour water from a bucket with a special technique in order to dupe the toilet into flushing… Still, only 20 percent of the population in Padang city (778,000 people) remains connected to the water distribution network. This means most people will have to wait for a long time to get a real shower.

We are about 15 people working, sleeping and eating — essentially on top of each other. None of us has had a shower with running water for three or four weeks. And the crowded office is extremely hot. We have three fans to help us cool off, but in my corner, they don’t make much of a difference. So we’re all hot and sweaty and definitely NOT nice smelling. Everybody pours a few buckets of cold water over their heads a couple of times a day, obviously, and as we’re all quite smelly. We don’t really notice anymore. But if you’d entered the house, I’m sure you’d be hit to the ground by the smell 😉

Today we’ve had another round of heavy rains and thunderstorms. The rain clears up the air, which is all fine for those of us in the team who are chained to our computers all day. To us the rain just means cooler office. But to the families living in earthquake-affected and mudslide-prone areas, the heavy rains are posing a serious threat. This has added a real sense of renewed urgency to our emergency work.

Both yesterday and today our distribution teams have hit new records. Yesterday they reached an all time high 2,178 families with emergency relief. Today they topped this record and reached another 2,517 families. Our distribution teams are doing a fantastic job indeed! 

In this first phase of the emergency, Save the Children has been distributing shelter, household kits and hygiene kits. We will keep doing that until the 30,000 hardest-hit families have received emergency relief. At the same time, shelter manager Karine has just finished a plan for transitional housing. The earthquake-affected families can’t stay in a tent made of tarpaulin for long, especially not as the rain keeps pouring down. That’s why it’s urgent to start rebuilding homes. In the meantime, the families need temporary, but more solid roof over their heads. 

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