Hargobinangun, Yogya, Indonesia – 31/10/10 – 23:45 West Indonesia Time. Heru Purnomo from Semarang, Jawa Tengah Province – about 120 kms north from Yogya – simply intended to help survivors from Mt.Merapi eruption disaster. Thanks to God that a friend of him gave a contact number in Yakkum Emergency Unit or YEU.
Tina’s cellphone in YEU then rang on that day of 26 October, and it was Heru who expressed his intention to provide helps and ready to go right away. As it was late day already, Tina asked them to delay their departure until she contacted him. It was 27 October 2010 when Heru and his two friends Polet and Temon, also from Semarang, departed heading to Yogyakarta about three hour trip after Tina reconfirmed them for coming.
To Menik from YEU’s Human Resources Department, Heru said that he and his friends simply intend to provide helps for survivors, whatever the work will be. Menik suggested him to be the person in charge in handling the psychosocial program for children from seven barracks YEU handles in Hargobinangun, and invited one of them to deal with logistics. Heru and Polet then agreed to develop psychosocial activities for children while Temon prefers to be in logistics.
“The initial and most important thing in this kind of work is dealing with our approach to children. They usually have barrier to new person like me. It is normal though, especially when they used to be in play and game situation in their normal time but suddenly disaster came and they were forced to be in situation like this. So what I did then, I walked around and met five children. I spoke to them, told a little story, and just made fun with them. I asked them to join me going around the whole seven barracks, and invited their friends to play together” as what Heru said.
Heru knows how to deal with children. He works as surveyors in a consumer survey agency. His respondents are varying, including children when snack or candy companies asked them to do a market survey.
Both Heru and the children quickly adapt each other. Those children sometimes even urged Heru to have play or game with them. On his first day on duty in 28 October afternoon, thirty children were gathered and play together. They are all originated from Boyong and Kaliurang Selatan sub-villages. Heru and Polet also invited them to decide the schedule for them to play and learn. As school activities off due to the continuing eruption, the children have more time to set the time for being around with friends in games and play together. So does since then, Heru and Polet accompany and coordinate the plays, games, and learning times for them. Heru told that he really enjoys having the chance to help children survivors to cope with their trauma.
“The only symptom I learn related to their trauma is when they heard thunder roaring. They think and worry that it’s the eruption from Mt.Merapi. When I came to them and let them know that it was thunder, they were spontaneously released” Heru told the trauma status of the children.
Heru and Polet design the plays and games mostly under the theme of environmental issues. They invite the children to explore the nature around, to having experience under and off the shade of trees, pick up trash around and have them thrown into three different containers.
“We design still in plays and games approach. I don’t want to be teachy” Heru said.
Overwhelmed, fatigue, and some children who need more attention are some challenges that Heru has so far.
“But those are paid by the joy to have chance to help them on their difficulties”, Heru underlined how the helping aspect is so important to him, far beyond the challenges. (Prepared by Abang Rahino for Yakkum Emergency Unit).
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