Living on the Top of Fault
Survivors became volunteers. They moved quickly and precisely in the name of humanity, in resistance against the poor performance of Palu government in responding to the recent earthquake. The slow response from the government caused a lot of chaos that added to the disaster.
On September 28th, 2018, a series of earthquakes, tsunami, and liquefaction took thousands of lives and other casualties throughout Central Sulawesi.
The natural disaster is not new for Central Sulawesi. As people who live in the most active faults on earth, people of South Sulawesi have developed means to convey knowledge on how to mitigate the impact of disasters. In its toponomy and various accounts of oral history, knowledge on disasters have been recorded and passed down through generations. For example, names of certain areas in the local language contain clues on whether those areas were safe to live, or on the original purpose of the land.
However, as this important source of knowledge has been ignored by city planners, developers, and policy makers, people in Central Sulawesi were no longer in touch with the characteristics of their own neighborhood.
Neni and Ama; survivors who also became volunteers in responding to the recent disaster; were originally literacy and art activists. They refuse to forget local history. Through their works, they try to remind people of the role of collective memory and oral history in disaster mitigation. Their actions are also the form of the community’s protest against the government’s slow response which actually brought more harm to the survivors. Disaster cannot be avoided. What has to be evaluated is how we reduce the risk for people who are vulnerable to disasters.
Their options are down to two: striving to survive, or standing up to fight back.