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Jakarta Post

Volunteers travel 80 km to give COVID-19 aid to shackled mental health patients in NTT

  • Markus Makur

    The Jakarta Post

East Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara   /   Sat, May 2, 2020   /   02:51 pm
Volunteers travel 80 km to give COVID-19 aid to shackled mental health patients in NTT Aleksius Dugis, 31, a man with a mental health illness, is seen shackled near the kitchen of his parents’ house in Zola village in Kota Komba district, East Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, on Sunday. He has been shackled there for 10 years. (The Jakarta Post/Markus Makur)

Volunteers under the Kasih Insanis Group, which deals with mental health patients in East Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, traveled 80 kilometers to help shackled mental health patients face the COVID-19 pandemic. In East Nusa Tenggara, the practice of shackling continues to affect people with serious mental illnesses.

The volunteers visited Walburga Naut, 57, who has been shackled for 20 years in her house in Deruk village in Elar Selatan district, Manggarai. The district is remote and getting there requires that travelers navigate challenging terrain.

The volunteers donated 200 kilograms of rice, cooking oil, soap, detergent, powdered milk, toothpaste and clothes to 10 people on Thursday. The aid was donated from a Catholic church in Ede, the Netherlands.

The team also brought cloth masks for the patients and their family members.

Pankrasius Purnama, a volunteer, said one of the patients, Aloysius Andar, 58, had been shackled for 28 years in Golomeni village, Kota Komba district. Two others, a father and son, were also shackled there.

Moses Reko and Theodorus Urus, family members of the patients, said they were thankful for the help. “We thought the suffering of our family members was ours alone. But we are glad we have others who care,” Moses said.

East Manggarai Legislative Council speaker Heremias Dupa said on Thursday that the administration had to make sure that vulnerable groups received help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from the group show that there are about 40 shackled mental health patients in the regency.

Without access to proper treatment and lacking education about the mentally ill, some families in Indonesia shackle their mentally ill family members. Government data on the issue is outdated but the latest data, released about 10 years ago, indicates there were 18,800 people shackled throughout Indonesia.