Student News

Festival Funds Palu Relief

In fall 2018, Ekaterina Burtseva '20, Maria Salim '21, and Benyamin Mohammadzadeh '20 organized an Asian Cultural Festival to fundraise for the city of Palu in Sulawesi, Indonesia, which was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami. 

On September 28, 2018, the province of Central Sulawesi in Indonesia was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake followed by 26-feet high tsunami. With 2,045 people dead, 10,000 injured, 5,000 missing, and over 80,000 people displaced, the local government announced a 14-day state of emergency. Many crucial infrastructures were severely damaged by the disaster, including major roads and the airport in Palu, making it difficult for response teams to access the area.

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and is situated right on the ring of fire. This means that the islands are all prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and the effects of climate change throughout the year. In this case, sudden horizontal slip on the Palu-Koru fault, located close to the shore and only 6 miles below the surface, had triggered three tsunami waves that hit Palu within three minutes.

On October 16, 2018, Burtseva, Salim, and Mohammadzadeh organized the Asian Cultural Festival at Bennington College as a fundraiser for Palu, presenting a night of music, henna, dances, fortunetelling, food, and more. Together, the event raised $920 in funds, which were donated to support the relief effort of Ksatria Airlangga Floating Hospital (RSTKA), which arrived at the port at Donggala, another affected city nearby, on October 5. Founded by alumni from Airlangga University, RSTKA is a non-profit organization on a mission to give accessible healthcare to people living in the islands of Indonesia. Their medical team in Palu-Donggala helped a total of 987 patients, 14 of whom underwent surgical procedures. In the aftermath, the team also set up trauma healing programs, temporary school programs (“sekolah darurat”), and helped in the distribution of aid.

The foundation also managed to provide 70 small fishing boats as requested by the villagers of the fishermen village of Loli Tasiburi-Palu, as all but one fishing boat were wiped out, set up a fish auction building, and provided clean water and proper toilets/washrooms. As Amir Amiruddin of RSTKA mentioned, the best trauma healing is, indeed, going back to work.

photo of dancer posing
Isha Shah
Photo by Ludmila Puchulú Mocchiutti '21
photo of singer with band
From left: Marley-Rose Liburd, Thilo Widder on bass, Luca Scheid on guitar
Photo by Ludmila Puchulú Mocchiutti '21
photo of hand with henna
By Ludmila Puchulú Mocchiutti '21