13 September 2019 / 13 Muharram 1441
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ON Friday 28 September at 6.02 pm, an earthquake shook the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on the Makasar Straits. It was a shallow, sharp 7.5 Richter scale quake. Its epicentre was in the mountainous region of Central Sulawesi, 77 km from the provincial capital Palu, which is located in the mouth of a narrow bay.
Thirty minutes after the quake, the earth shook again as a tsunami, travelling over 100 kms an hour, boxed in by the topography of the bay and slowing over the seabed, built in terrifying size to six metres.
At 6.32 pm, the tsunami smashed into Palu, sweeping away cars, buildings, temples and mosques, even washing ships on to dry land. Over 1,700 homes disappeared into the earth, sucked into a vortex of liquefication, caused by quake disturbed soil and water.
In a matter of minutes, Palu and its environs became a fearsome scene of devastation as nearly 2,000 people drowned in the mud, or were swept away by the water. As the tsunami receded over a landscape borrowed from the Final Days, over a quarter of a million people had been made homeless, and life as they know it, had been taken away from them.
Sulawesi might not have been on the scale of the Aceh tsunami of 2004, but it was still a destructive natural event, well beyond human scope. After visiting Palu and assessing damage, Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, realising the gravity of the situation, made the call for international aid.
Sulawesi is close to South African hearts, as the family of one our forefathers Shaykh Yusuf of Makasar hail from the region. For this reason, the recently-announced Joint Indonesia Emergency Appeal is a heart-warming response.
This month, several South African-based relief organisations met at the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) in Cape Town to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would see them joining forces to raise much-needed funds for humanitarian relief efforts in Sulawesi.
The organisations who have signed the MOU are: the MJC, Darul Islam Zakah Fund (DAIZAF), Darul Qur’an South Africa, Islamic Relief South Africa (IRSA), Muslim Hands South Africa (MHSA) and SANZAF.
MJC President, Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, said the MOU marked a momentous occasion and that they had pledged to raise R2 million towards helping the people of Sulawesi.
“The MJC always envisioned that our community organisations would come together, to forge closer working relationships, as they work to alleviate the suffering of the poor in our communities. I am extremely proud of the mature and respectful manner in which discussions were held in finalising this joint venture. All parties came together with one goal in mind – to assist those affected by the Indonesian disaster,” he said.
SANZAF Western Cape General Manager, Shafiek Barendse, concurred with these sentiments, adding that the joint initiative would allow organisations to lean on one another for support and capacity building.
“Locally there is potential to partner and support one another on different projects. As institutions, we know we cannot be there for everyone, but now we will be able reach much more vulnerable people together,” he said.
Sakeena Bock, head of SANZAF’s marketing team, said the Joint Indonesia Emergency Appeal would be an impactful platform in offering solace to those in need, adding that in 2016 the organisation had teamed up with local relief organisation, Al-Imdad, to distribute aid to the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp. In 2015, SANZAF had also sent R1 million in aid to Gaza and R500, 000 for relief in Syria.