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Merapi: Hopes and Fears

The aftermath of the eruption of the majestic Mount Merapi through a foreigner's eyes.

Mount Merapi is an iconic landmark of Indonesia, many claim it to be one of the most scenic spots within Southeast Asia. Situated near Jogjakarta, which is located in Central Java, it is the most active volcano in Indonesia.

Late last year, Mount Merapi erupted, destroying complete villages and leaving many homeless. What was once a popular tourist destination had become a barren land of despair. I spent some time in Cangkringan Village volunteering with some members of the organisation, Jalin Merapi, which contributes by disseminating safety information about the Merapi area, collecting donations, and providing relief aid to the villagers living around Mount Merapi.

Photos where the villages once stood:

A fellow volunteer, Loeie, took me to the bottom of Merapi to have a look at the destruction.

Some reconstruction efforts by local authorities were also in the works, but the progress was slow.

Villagers were settled into temporary huts, made of bamboo and planks, and metal roofs. Though providing temporary comfort, these shelters provide for poor living conditions. These huts are not believed to last more than 5 years. In the meantime, the government-funded restoration of the villages has been very slow-moving. Where will these villagers stay when the huts no longer stand?

Despite the gloomy outlook, the locals remain cheerful. The villagers of Cangkringan went about their daily lives as usual, living simply and peacefully, with hope for better life in the future.

A photo with Wahid, the village chief’s son

written by scrabbyknees

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