Asia West Pacific – February 2014
Floods in Pati, Central Java
by Nadine Hoover
Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific’s partner, SHEEP, had just been commissioned to study and plan for major flooding in Central Java, but the floods beat them to it. Our friends in Tondomulyo were hit badly by the floods. The water came in fast in the middle of the night, so there was little time or warning. The play center there was completely flooded as was the home of Pak Suhadi and Ibu Zumrotin. With their two children and new infant, they relocated to the second story of the primary school across the courtyard.
Poor urban planning, WTO commodification of water (including the major rivers), and extensive logging all contribute to making traditional flooding extreme—much higher levels and longer durations. The water floods in quickly but is now taking months to recede.
Tondomulyo had one of the highest crime rates in the region. Even Zumrotin described their village as “fanatic, fanatic, fanatic, fanatic, fanatic…”, a closed, militantly Islamic community. In an interview with Blaze Nowara, Zumrotin explained, “Even I was opposed to outsiders coming in. I told my husband this was bad, very, very bad, nothing good could come of letting outsiders in. But I was wrong! It’s wonderful having so many friends, especially from around the world, who care so much for us and our children and teach us so much!”
Friendship and visitation is the cornerstone of our Friends Peace Teams work. When people gather who are committed to peace in the world, we are always very active, but we never hesitate to stop, notice, care for one another, ask the hard questions, and seek a way forward together, learning from one another.
Two friends from Pati, Nanik and Ninok, traveled to Bohol, Philippines to help share AVP workshops there. During the workshops, Ludwig writes: “Other than being wonderful, (the workshops were) also scary and stressful (i.e. tremors during the workshop while we were on the second floor of a fairly small building). We’re glad we somehow still left a positive mark. Our new apprentice facilitators here remember Nanik and Ninok fondly.”
We find ourselves facing natural disasters on a perpetual basis, making our work even that much more demanding. Several staff of Peace Place, our interfaith training center, are evacuated from their homes for flooding, although Peace Place did not flood so training continued. When we are here, in the face of our friends struggles, it is hard not to respond. Even small funds go a long way in these circumstances. If you would like to contribute to relief funds for our friends, please send donations to: Friends Peace Teams, memo line: AWP/relief.