An interview with Fr. Austin Crapp ofm
It's now over three weeks since the tidal wave strucked the evening of Friday the 17th of July rush to get attention for the injured then getting the survivors housed, fed and clothes into safe shelter. Now we are beginning to pick up the pieces and looking forward to the long term rebuilding and restoring their lives to normalcy.
The areas now we are concern with are so much the medial. That is now stable and most of the serious cases have gone to care centers. Also the food is coming in great quantities (and) that is been distributed in great quantities by the government assisted by us. Also shelter and clothing are coming in large quantities.
So other time. (Immediate/medicine) needs are well catered.
For the future we are looking at lives and helping people come to terms with what has happened to them. This is where our pastoral and counseling (personnel/person) come in.
In the first weeks we sent in our own teams from the diocese and helped by some of the neiboring diocese simply to be there with the people and to listen to their stories hear their concern.
This has rather surface of listening just letting them express their sorrow and deep fears. Now there is a team that has gone in while, other teams came out to be re-trained. More this time on trauma counseling.
Now we go deeper into their terrors, their fears and their concerns and give them strategies for rebuilding their lives. . We are assisted. By various experts in trauma counseling from within the country and outside.
They are running workshops for counselors. This will continue with all the teams that come in now from other parts of the country. They will all be trained before they go in tremor counseling. They will know the strategies which to employ and they will encourage the people to rebuild their lives and give them hope.
The first response was overwhelming. We heard immediately from the government . The setting up of the National Disaster and Emergency Services here in Aitape and in other parts of the country.
Naturally the neiboring diocese also sent people, food and money and also people around the country flooded us with food, clothing. And personnel. Internationally there has been many offers of aid to ourselves and to the national and provincial government.
So much so that we are over whelmed by their generosity of people who were touched deeply, by this terrible tragedy I was told that it is the greatest response to this part of the wold ever.
In the first week of course, we were happy of anyone doing anything, there were also of NGOs doing various jobs. We were quite. this was happening the government was working hard We were working very hard with full cooperation with all these and if anyone wished to help me said we ill go right a head.
The people need as much help as they can get anyone who wants to do something, can go ahead it if for be small please go ahead and do it. Since then, we are more organized. Each evening we have a coordinating meeting in which all the NGO's AND THE GOVERNENBT ATTENDS AND WE TRY TO COORDINATE.
Matter of fact we have set up a rehabilitation program that has being set up to and is now in full gear and this has our central clearing point for all the donations, clothing, gifts or money and also our organizations for logistics getting the teams out.
We are now well organized we are getting good cooperation from the government services and also form NGOs so no it is settling down into a pattern.
Yes we can assure all donors that we do have a good accountant, every donation weather in kind or in cash is been recorded, i. It will be acknowledge to the person who sent it. We are open to all accounting and auditing and we are very conscious that we must bring everything to the people.
We do have a good network by helicopter at times with help from the government at times also we've set up our own surface by land or by sea into the camp. Now we can get to all camps without a helicopter sometimes with trouble. but we can get there.
We have good contacts, good communication with camps by radio, requests come directly to us. We respond in good time so now we have a good network. By getting into the camp we can resp9onse to them and all donation and gift will be accepted and will be recorded.
Our only problem here is storage there is so much containers of food and so on coming that we cannot really store them. We have little storage here and limited accommodation for helpers and what we are trying to achieve now is to get a large container and load them now in Aitape. so that we can use the large containers at Aitape as storage.
Aitape has a small wharf and cannot really take a full container though a logging company here, we do have large machines, cranes and bulldozers and son on coming into another wharf. So this is what we achieve, the unloading of containers here so that they can will be their own storage space.
Well the large containers are eastside shipped and off loaded at the wharf there then the road from here to here is impossible. The wet season is coming up. It's better enough in the dry season the bridges cannot take a conta8iner there is no. The carry them. and will be difficult to carry them.
We fear now with the wet season approaching and all containers down they are not getting it through. So it will have perhaps transship by sea . Risk .
Well I was shocked at the distraction but I was not sure how large it was. But just to be on the same size that it was a large disaster. I immediately alerted Archbishop Barnes who immediately contacted the National Disaster and Emergency services. Then I went to the hospital and asked them to be prepared for the many people coming in. It wasn't very long that reports came in confirming that is was a large disaster. There was far more destruction than we first thought, not only did it extend to Malol Less Sissano and Warapu.
Our communication was really bad. There was little communication, the Aitape phones were difficult to get to Vanimo or There were some people who were coming by sea who alerted the government officials here . Through their own network alerted the Emergency and Disaster department in Vanimo how even this was a little. but after I have alerted Moresby.
DID YOU CRY TOO?
off course. To see this people not only were they injured but they have lost so much particularly from the religious side of it or from traditional side of it. to have that terrible grief of loosing people and not being able to bury them , never able to say good bye they are just lost.
Most of the dead were no seen by their relatives. There are lost at sea, buried by strangers there are in lagoons, there is terrible grieves of the people and this touches me very much.
Yes there are this grieving liturgies going on already both in the high school here where a survivors have come back to school trying to pick up their life again. The other people not in the tragedy were touched by it and there have been several emotional liturgies in the High schools and other schools also in the camp where pastoral teams are holding liturgies and counseling the people.
There have been many liturgies where people have broken down and cried. This is good it, it is grief. It's getting the grief out but still yet there is still a lot of denial among the people. this is our large concern that this will go on for some time.
WORD OF THANKS.
I've been over whelmed by the support. This tragedy has brought to us There has been many international donors, flooding in government to government and many. is coming in the millions. There has bee people in Australia and people all over the world have been sending donations. And simply asking for information. And how bad is it.
The most emotionally charged response came from the people of the country. (All over the country people have been ringing to Aitape relatives. they are sending tones and tones of clothing and lots and lots of money. We have been real touched by the amount of people who were really touched. And for theses who really touched and for those who really want to help. I assure you, we shall be entirely grateful and we shall certainly pray for you.