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Indonesia: ‘It rained non-stop for almost five days’

“It rained non-stop for almost five days,” said Olibertha. “Our home started flooding so we escaped to our attic and lived there for two days before help arrived.”

Oberlitha, her husband and two children now live in the village’s agricultural hall along with 68 other families in the sub-village of Umatoos in Malaka district, Nusa Tenggara Timur province. The floods destroyed her home and swept away most of her family’s possessions.

“I lost all my furniture, kitchen equipment, clothes and my livestock. I lost all five of my pigs in one flood. Each pig can fetch about 2.5 million rupiah (£170) at the market but they are now gone,” she said. “The clothes that I’m wearing now are all I managed to bring with me when we were rescued from my home.”

Her family was just one of 4,371 households affected by extensive flooding triggered by heavy rain that inundated 16 villages in Malaka district in late June.

To put food on the table, Olibertha’s husband drives a public car along the Betun-Atambua route. The car was damaged in the floods but has since been repaired so that he can continue to work to improve his family’s current living conditions in the evacuation camp.

Olibertha and her son

“We sleep on tarps and only eat rice with instant noodles or canned fish twice a day,” said Olibertha. “For drinking, we have been given bottled mineral water: our well was damaged in the flood and cannot be used anymore.”

“We need kitchen equipment, blankets, mats and soap. Our toilet and house are also damaged. The children need school uniforms, books, stationery and a school bag too.”

The conditions in the evacuation camps mean children are more vulnerable to common diseases such as diarrhoea. “There was one family of children here who had diarrhoea last night,” said Olibertha.

To help affected families, Save the Children is distributing hygiene aid packages to temporary camps. In the coming weeks, we plan to distribute back-to-school kits to the three worst-affected schools in Umatoos, Fafoe, and Belut. The children’s aid agency also plans to set up school tents in the affected schools so that learning activities can continue.

Life is hard, but Olibertha is already thinking of the future. “I don’t have any plans to move from this village,” she says, “but I do intend to build a house on stilts. I hope this kind of house will be good enough when the floods come again.”

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