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Oxford Indonesian students put on charity event for Lombok

Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, October 3, 2018  /  08:35 am
Oxford Indonesian students put on charity event for Lombok

Helping hand: Residents of Dompu Indah village in North Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, line up to collect fresh water, which has been scarce following a string of earthquakes that struck Lombok Island in August. The Oxford University Indonesia Society (OXONIS) plans to hold a three-part charity event for earthquake victims starting on Oct. 13. (The Jakarta Post/Seto Wardhana)

The Oxford University Indonesia Society (OXONIS), set up to promote Indonesian arts and culture, will hold a three-part charity event called Gather Together to Help Rebuild Lombok to assist the recent quake victims in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

The event includes an online funding campaign on the crowd-funding website; a food bazaar, cultural exhibition and auction event at Wolfson College, Oxford University on Oct. 13; and lastly, a Jakarta-based charity event to be hosted by the Oxford University Indonesia Alumni Society here.

The society had the idea for the event immediately after the devastating disaster, with the OXONIS members — made up of existing students and postdoctoral scholars at Oxford University as well as members of the Oxford University Indonesia Alumni Society, who are mostly based in Jakarta — feeling compelled to simply do something for their fellow Indonesians.

Putu Geniki “Niki” Lavinia Natih, a Jardine-Oxford doctoral scholar from Oxford University’s Trinity College who is the event’s spokesperson, recalls the immediate sense of wanting to help her “brothers and sisters” in Lombok, which was also extensively covered by the media in the United Kingdom.

Having stayed in touch with many friends in her home country who were actively involved in various charity events, Niki learned first-hand about helping to provide temporary shelters for those in Akar-Akar and Dangiang villages in North Lombok. It provided the extra conviction she needed to arrange her own charity program with her OXONIS friends.

Niki said she wanted to raise “awareness for the need to help people recover not only their physical and tangible assets, but also their mental wellbeing”.

In the few short dramatic seconds the earthquake shook the island, its people had lost their loved ones and their homes, and their lives were devastatingly changed.

“We truly hope through this charity event, we would not only be able to gather funds to contribute toward rebuilding Lombok’s villages, but also help toward invigorating the spirit within the hearts of those so severely impacted by the quakes,” she says.

The society’s members also felt compelled to help through their unique understanding of how, aside from the immediate physical toll, the disaster had and will affect the lives of the people in Lombok.

Niki speaks of how the local and British press had covered the disaster somewhat differently, with the Indonesian press being more direct and technical about it, focusing on the number of deaths and the extent of damage to homes and infrastructure as well as presenting a more thorough idea of the immediate needs of the communities on the island.

The foreign press, Niki saw, was focusing on the main effects of the quakes alongside warnings for foreign travelers to be cautious of traveling to and around the island.

“For us these reports highlighted the effects of the earthquakes not only devastated current wellbeing, but also had deeply negative repercussions on the community’s ability to maintain their livelihood, particularly through tourism in the present and future,” Niki says.

The society also referred to the government’s national body for disaster relief, which provided them with detailed statistical reports on the effects of the earthquake.

In the hope of understanding the specific needs of the quake victims, discussions between singer Andien Aisyah and the team who were sourcing the temporary shelters, enabled them to calculate the exact cost per shelter.

Niki also sourced expert opinions on the requirements for blankets along with the exact cost per blanket.

As for, the relationship came naturally. The company’s CEO Muhammad Timur “Timmy” Alfatih was an old friend of Niki from her undergraduate years. The website had played a crucial part in various socially-conscious crowdfunding projects related to humanitarian causes.

“The team shared with us pictures from the field, gave us technical support in designing our page, and advised us on how best to mitigate the potential glitches that may arise if donations were made from UK based bank accounts,” Niki says.

For the event on Oct. 13, speakers including Timmy will attend to share their personal experience in helping out the Lombok recovery process by speaking through Skype. They will give detailed information on how donations will be transferred to people in Lombok — crucial information that OXONIS is sure will increase awareness among potential donors.

Their crowdfunding page will be up and running for the next three months, to cover the period before the Oct. 13 event, the event itself, and the Jakarta-based Oxford University Alumni Society event.

So far, the effort has been more than worth it. They had a particularly heart-warming reply from an Oxford based donor, who was very touched by the event and was willing to support as they had their honeymoon in Bali and Lombok.

“We will continue to spread the posters and link to our crowdfunding page. With the help of [everyone involved] we really hope that we can reach more and more people,” Niki says.

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