Mt. Agung- Disruption & The Long Wait

Want to help the folks in the Agung Relief Camps?

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how YOU can get involved!

It’s been two weeks since we left our home of the past four years in the middle of the night to escape the potential eruption of Mt. Agung in Bali.

I can’t deny it’s been stressful.

It’s especially stressful moving house on the spur of the moment to a new place leaving our friends, familiar surroundings and daily routines behind.

Stressful wondering if schools will cancel their Education Outside The Classroom Expeditions with me. Trips we’ve been prepping and planning for well over a year now.

Stressful wondering if I’ll have work in the future.

Disruption.

But it is all relative and we definitely always keep that in mind.

There are folks that are much more rooted to the land with their livestock, farms, homes and livelihoods pinned to the slopes of a mountain lying in the shadow of a volcano.

They can’t just uproot themselves and leave. They are tied to their villages and homes. Their livelihoods are there.  Their entire lives and all of their memories are there. They don’t have the options or choices we have. The mountain is their life.

The waiting and not knowing.  The uncertainty is the hardest part.

It dominates all of our conversations with people we know and with strangers we meet.

What will happen?  When will it erupt?  Will it erupt at all?  How much damage will it cause if it erupts?

The truth is no one knows.

No one can predict if or when an eruption will occur.

This could go on for weeks, months or even a year or more.

Not knowing is now our daily business.

So we do what we can do and we wait for an eruption to occur.

So here’s what we’ve done so far:

Since September 22nd, we’ve managed to organize a team of 70+ volunteers with members of the Bali Chapter of the Association Experiential Learning Indonesia (AELI) and devise a long term strategy for providing assistance to those living in the Relief Camps.

See the video below of an AELI volunteer playing games in one of the relief camps!

 

With the advice and information from many chats and conversations with people living in the camps and government officials in charge of the camps we’re providing requested supplies and education and entertainment for kids (an adults!) in the camps.

 

 

After chatting with Dr. Janine Krippner and learning more about the health hazards of ash fall we’ve embarked on a plan to educate locals on the proper use of masks as well as sourcing and supplying masks to folks in the camps.

 

 

 

To achieve those goals we’ve raised approximately US$1200 to buy much needed supplies and masks and started an online fundraising campaign with a partner based in the UK.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/help-evacuees-in-bali

(click the link above to help out!)

And we’ll keep going.

If I have learned anything from this it is that in the end we are all the same. We all have the same worries, the same fears and celebrate the same successes.

I’ve seen folks I don’t know reach out to me and offer help and assistance. People that I have no idea who they are or even where they are at the moment reach out and donate their time, energy and good will.

Indonesian, Dutch, German, British, American, Canadian, African, South African, Thai, Singaporean and Malaysian are just a few of nationalities of the folks that contacted me.

At the core of it is knowing that all of the differences between us are just a cracker thin veneer hiding the iceberg of similarities percolating just below the surface.

And the potential eruption of Mt. Agung cracked that veneer and exposed us all!

Please contact me if you want to get involved and help out…

How you can help:

  1. Donate to the cause !
    https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/help-evacuees-in-bali
  2. Make a poster to help us educate locals about the health hazards if ash fall from an eruption (especially needed in Indonesian & Balinese languages!)- see examples below needed in less technical & more kid-friendly format!
  3. Help spread the word (share this post!)
  4. Donate masks & goggles (contact me for more info!)

We need more posters like these (below) to use for our Ash Fall Health Hazards & Safety Educational Outreach to the camps. (especially less technical in a kid-friendly format in Indonesian & Balinese Languages!)

If you can make a poster like this (kid-friendly in Indonesian), scan it and send it to me please let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mt. Agung- Relief Camps & How You Can Help!

Command Center

I suppose we are refugees.  Technically speaking, of course.

My wife and daughter fled our home in the middle of the night on a motorbike with four bags.

Still no eruption but plenty of earthquakes and some gas escaping.

We are fine now.  We’re 20km+ from the caldera and in the safe zone. But for some reason Tom Petty keeps running through my head!

 

I’ll admit it was a bit scary, a bit stressful, a bit freaky to leave our home in a hurry.  Even though we were prepared mentally because of the warnings and had taken precautions to have bags packed ready to go it was still a bit surreal to actually hop on the motorbike that night and leave it all behind.

We love East Bali. We’ve lived here for almost four years and have become part of the community. My daughter goes to a local school. We have friends and neighbors nearby.

Rice fields and mountains

 

Karangasem is a quiet, peaceful place dotted with rice fields, black sand beaches and spectacular views of Mt. Agung.

Amlapura, where we live, is a very local small town with just enough energy and busyness to keep you happy but not too much that’ll stress you out.

Idyllic really.

Now we aren’t sure when or if we will return.

 

So we carry on and try to get on with daily normal life.

For us it’s a disruption. We’re the lucky ones. We have friends willing to help. We have an education. We have access to accurate information.

We have options. Not everyone does.

Imagine you’re a farmer and your whole village was loaded on a truck and then plunked at a relief camp far from your home. Your collective memory is of the 1963 eruption that killed 1000+ people.

Chances are you don’t quite understand what’s going on and you especially don’t understand the geology of it all. Much less the risks, hazards and long term effects

Even though the information is out there you don’t really know where to look or how to find it.

You are worried about your cows, pigs and chickens that are left on the mountain. Who will feed them?

You’re worried about your village and home.

All you know is that the government showed up in big trucks and buses and told you that you have to leave right away.

That’s where we are now so we’re prepping for a long term wait for the eruption if and when it comes.

On September 24th, I visited the Disaster Relief Command Post as well as some of the relief camps with members of the Bali chapter of the Association of Experiential Learning Indonesia (AELI) https://www.aeli.or.id/

I didn’t know it at the time but it turns out the AELI folks are the perfect group for a situation like this!

They are all professional outdoor educators.  Well versed experiential learning and adventure trip leaders trained in First Aid, CPR and Basic Life Support.

They’re all experienced in logistics and organizing large groups and know how to play games for team building and fun!

Their response was immediate, thoughtful, well planned and professional.

Combine that with a camp full of people and lots of kids and you got it.

This is what we do!

SYNERGY!

So now we have a plan.

Starting October 2nd we’ll be making weekly visits to different camps to provide the following:

  1. Provide and cook nutritional food (i.e. vegetables & fruits because now there is an overstock of instant noodles!)
  2. Work with kids and adults for education, play games, have some fun & entertainment (because it’s hot & boring at the camps!)
  3. Ash fall education using resources from the sites below. (A HUGE THANKS to Dr. Janine Krippner for up to date, accurate, scientific information!)
  4. Collecting donations to buy supplies and hopefully source masks!

http://www.ivhhn.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102

http://www.ivhhn.org/pamphlets.html

How you can help:

  1. Source masks and send them to us (contact me for details & address)
  2. Donate money so we can buy supplies (i.e. vegetables, toiletries, bedding etc.)- contact me for details
  3. Spread the word & share this blog!

Stay tuned for more updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mt. Agung Bali- It All Drops Away

We got the notice about 9pm. Luckily, we were prepared.

A few days before the status of Gunung Agung in East Bali went from Level I (normal) to II (alert).  Then quickly elevated again and went to Level III (standby).

We weren’t too worried. We had bags packed.  Important stuff. Emergency route was planned and we would evacuate to go stay with friends.

When neighbors started leaving we were calm and planning to stay until it went to Level IV (caution).

There was plenty of misinformation on social media.

People claiming it was raining fire and stones. It wasn’t.

Videos of other volcanoes erupting with captions that it was Agung. It wasn’t.

People panicking and envisioning fire and brimstone and imagining themselves running just ahead of a pyroclastic flow of red hot lava. They wouldn’t.

That was my biggest concern. Panic. Mayhem and misinformed people. Chaos.

I was more worried about how people would react more than how the mountain would erupt.

When I teach First Aid, CPR, Emergency Management and Response I always say Stay Calm, Don’t Panic.

But honestly, I don’t know how to teach Don’t Panic. I think it only comes with experience. Once you’ve been in a jam, a bad situation and you come out the other side OK then you learn Don’t Panic.

A friend once told me my philosophy is It’s all good in the end. And if it ain’t good then it ain’t the end.

By and large, I think that’s true. It comes from being in emergency situations and surviving them. Popping out the other side unscathed. I am sure that’s how I learned Don’t Panic.

At 9pm on September 22nd we got notice. Agung was elevated to Level IV (caution)- the highest level. A quick check on the government websites confirmed.

Time to leave.

So with my wife and five year old daughter we loaded our motorbike with four medium sized bags and took off into the night.

The roads were crowded. Thousands of motor bikes. Hundreds of bemos. Dozens of large trucks all on the main road heading out of town.

There was a steady stream of traffic from Karangasem in East Bali towards the south into the safe zones. But overall it was smooth.

The traffic was moving. A few people were panicking but by and large it was going well.

We had a motor bike. We have friends. We have options. Not everyone does.

Along the way we saw folks waiting on the side of the road hoping to hop in a truck or possibly waiting for someone to come and pick them up.

The waiting and imagining. Not knowing. That’s the worst part.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be waiting on the side of the road during an evacuation and hoping you will get a ride or your ride will arrive in time.

Excruciating. Nerve wracking.

A few trucks were headed the other way. Presumably to evacuate folks from the 12km radius of the No Go Zone.

An hour later we were at a friends house in the safe zone. We’re 20km+ from the caldera. The government has evacuation camps set up nearby.

The restricted zone is a radius of 12km at the moment.  With that designated as the No Go Zone no one should be within that area but some folks have no choice.

Stories of farmers getting cheated by folks that bought their cows for next to nothing were already circulating. The poorest farmers on the slope of Agung would be hit the hardest. They would potentially lose their livestock and their land.

They were the ones living in the No Go Zone and being evacuated on big trucks with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

Some folks were taking advantage of this and buying the cattle at next to nothing rates from panicked farmers that saw no other choice.

Sad. Infuriating. Reality.

Luckily, not everyone is like that.

One farmer sent out a notice that he would house cows for free! People could relocate them to his land and he would feed them and keep them until the danger passed.

Other folks were reaching out and helping.

From what I could see who you were, where you were from, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, white or brown didn’t matter any more.

It all dropped away.  We only saw people. Other people doing what we were doing. Preparing to leave.

People weren’t stopping to ask. They were just helping and doing what they could.

During a time of crisis those things don’t truly matter. People were helping each other however they could. We were sharing updates and information. Folks were carrying and loading stuff for each other.

The superficial differences disappeared. People helping people.

When will we learn that those differences never truly matter? Seriously.

We’re lucky. We had plenty of warning and the majority of folks have been evacuated to safe zones and camps or made it to friends and family.

Now the work begins.

We have to be in this for the long haul. We can’t predict when the eruption will occur and folks might be in the camps for months.

There’s no way to know. We can’t predict or control the situation.

What we can control is our reaction and the actions we take.

We’ll be working with the local camps to bring in supplies and more importantly to work with the children in the camps to provide some fun, education, entertainment and stave off the boredom that’s likely to come in the long term.

Please let me know if you want to get involved and help out!

We’ll especially need volunteers to work with students as well as school supplies. Games, coloring books, crayons and fun stuff for kids!

Mt. Agung on Sept. 14 2017 on the street where we live

Kids in one of the camps nearby

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SSIS Students Making a Difference!

A group of students at South Saigon International School wanted to make a difference in their community.  Read their story below!

Make sure to download your FREE Action Guide to Composting for a Sustainable Classroom here!

Compliments of Celine and the EcoSSIStem Team!

 

I’m an 11th-grade student currently studying at Saigon South International School in HCMC, Vietnam. Recently, one of my teachers forwarded me an email about resources for environmental action in Asia and I thought it might be helpful to share an important project that I lead last year.

 

Last year, when I became the president of my school’s Global Issues Network Club, I understood exactly why I wanted this role — to focus on my school’s environmental impact where it seemed there was so much apathy and inaction. So when I stepped up, I had us jump straight into our project for the year: composting.

For months, we planned and held informational sessions with the help of a local NGOGaia Nature Conservation — for ourselves and administrators in order to tackle this project. From there, we wrote up a full proposal and got it approved for actual construction.

Our plan was to start with three rotating compost tumbler bins in the small garden area in our school. We decided that we should start small, and then expand into larger bins or pits after we established a system.

 

 

 

After that, we began to build the compost tumblers by up-cycling used oil drums and inviting teachers and staff members to join in the construction, spreading awareness about the project in the process.

 

After the bins were finished, we held training sessions for ourselves, the gardening staff, and the catering staff to develop procedures for building and maintaining the compost.

Things were definitely very rocky and hectic in the first few weeks because we were asking for additional work from the staff and our club members, but I definitely learned that well-built systems take time and patience to grow, and mistakes will be made!

We started our first batch of compost the week before Earth Week, and then presented our work in front of the entire high school in an Earth Day assembly that we also hosted.

 

 

Now, I’ve transitioned the club into becoming a dedicated environmental club called EcoSSIStem (my school being SSIS). This year, we plan to solidify the compost system to process the majority of organic waste in our school as well as other projects like reducing single use plastics. As a small student-led club in a school with so much waste, I am so proud of the impact we’re making to our school as a whole and really would like to share our work!

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Workshops & Speaking with Earth Matters

Are you looking for a speaker or workshop presenter that will inspire students, teachers and community members while motivating them to take action for sustainability?

Since 2012 I’ve given talks and workshops for the Global Issues Network (GIN), East Asian Regional Council Of Schools (EARCOS), Kuala Lumpur Eco-Film Festival (KLEFF) , Association of Experiential Learning Indonesia (AELI), Bangkok SerVICE (Inspire, Connect, Empower!) Brunei Global Issues Conference (BGIC), Round Square Conference and many related organizations and events.

My talks and workshops have reached thousands of students, teachers and community members in Southeast Asia with topics including:

  • Planning & Implementing your own Action Project for Sustainability
  • International Mindedness & Global Citizenship
  • Turning the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG’s) into meaningful Action and Service Projects
  • Creating an Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) Program at your school

Once you hear about my experiences with GREEN Riders, GREEN Paddlers, Rockin’ 4 the Environment and the opportunities for amazing adventure you will certainly be inspired to action!

Contact Kenny for a speaking engagement or workshop!

earthmattersinfo@gmail.com

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