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Relief reaches earthquake zone

In the hours after a 6.3 earthquake struck Indonesia on May 27 Church members in the country gathered at a local meetinghouse and prepared and delivered more than 2000 meals to victims. Cots mattresses and blankets were purchased locally to assist an orthopedic hospital where hundreds came for medical attention.
Photo by Mark Diorio/Deseret Morning NewsChurch employee Aaron Meachan hangs a banner from a skid of supplies to be flown from Utah to Indonesia for earthquake relief. The shipment sent by the Church and Islamic Relief Worldwide reached Indonesia May 31.
Around the world at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City Church leaders chartered a 747 jetliner and responding to requests from the Indonesian government loaded it with eight semi-truckloads of medical supplies hygiene kits and other essentials. Sent by the Church in partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Health and Islamic Relief Worldwide the supplies reached the disaster zone May 31.
Church leaders say they have never seen a Latter-day Saint emergency response plan come together so quickly. The speed of assistance is an indicator of both the Churchs increasing ability to provide needed supplies after disasters and to work with governments and other humanitarian organizations to get them where they need to go — fast.
We have maintained a long-standing close relationship with the government officials of Indonesia. I have talked with them by phone and there is a close cooperation between Elder Subandriyo our Area Seventy in Indonesia and the top ministers of the government said President Boyd K. Packer Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. We feel very sorry for the suffering of the people. The officials know that they can come to us when they need specialized help.
No Church members were injured in the disaster — the largest to strike Indonesia since a tsunami devastated the country Dec. 26 2004. However six member homes were destroyed and several more damaged during the earthquake that killed at least 5698 people injured more than 20000 and left 130000 homeless. More than 35000 homes and buildings around Yogyakarta located about 230 miles from Jakarta on the island of Java were reduced to rubble.
Elder Subandriyo said after the disaster local Church leaders immediately assessed the needs of earthquake victims. In less than an hour they determined to provide food.
Immediately we set up a large kitchen he said. Members gathered at the meetinghouse to cook rice noodles vegetables fish and eggs in the outdoor facility. When dark clouds formed overhead Elder Subandriyo said the members prayed that rain would not halt their efforts. The skies cleared and the group was able to work continuously throughout the night. The food was packaged into individual meals and sent to earthquake victims. Then they started over again; the kitchen continued to function around the clock for five days.
After visiting the disaster zone Elder Subandriyo said the food was very much appreciated by the people.
As members in Indonesia were preparing food for victims a plane — funded in partnership with Islamic Relief Worldwide the Muslim organization with which the Church partnered after the tsunami and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan — was loaded with humanitarian supplies in Salt Lake City.
The rapid-response shipment included first-aid supplies materials for casting broken arms and legs walkers canes crutches hygiene kits and a limited supply of warm weather clothing for hospital patients.
It is a heartwarming event today to have our organizations work together to help people thousands of miles away from here thousands of them that lost their homes that have problems finding clean water medical care and food to eat said Mokhtar Shawky a member of the board of directors for Islamic Relief.
Photo by Elder SubandriyoThe Church provided meals for those injured in the rubble.
Mr. Shawky said his organization and the Church have a proven record of cooperation. In this response for example Islamic Relief will oversee field distribution of all the Church supplies.
We consider ourselves more than partners he said. We have been working in the past together. . . . With our cooperation we will be able to reach a lot more people we will be able to treat a lot of the injured we will be able to feed a lot of the hungry we will be able to provide clean water.
The relationship is an example he said that good people when they work together can make a tremendous difference in the world.
Garry Flake director of Church Emergency Response said the Church was able to provide all the supplies requested by the Indonesian Ministry of Health and the countrys First Ladys Organization. We had the right supplies at the right time he said before traveling to Indonesia with the cargo plane carrying the Church emergency shipment.
The reason this happens is that the Church has taken a preparedness stance of having first aid and medical supplies so they can respond to these kinds of things he said adding that Church members make Church humanitarian work possible with their generous contributions.
Members of the Church should be very proud he said. We are helping the most desperate.
Photo by Elder SubandriyoThe Church also purchased mattresses for a local hospital.
Photo by Tyler HarrisChurch emergency relief items are unloaded in Indonesia May 31. The shipment sent in response to a 6.3 earthquake that struck the nation May 27 was requested by the Indonesian government.
E-mail to: sarah@desnews.com

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