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Weathering life's storms together

Written by Tearfund | 01 Jul 2020

When an earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, it caused catastrophic damage. Jonah and his wife, Nadia, managed to survive unhurt. And even though rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the disaster was tough, they found an incredible silver lining.

Jonah* and Nadia were on their way home when the earthquake happened. ‘I was on my motorbike with my wife, heading home,’ Jonah shares. ‘I witnessed myself how the buildings collapsed, the streets were cracked… and people hysterically ran.’

The couple tried to travel closer to their house, where they knew their father-in-law was. Arif was elderly and struggled with his eyesight. The cracks in the road began to get worse. The roads were blocked.

‘I could not abandon my father-in-law, so I forced myself to continue to the house,’ says Jonah. ‘I no longer thought of the motorbike we left behind, and immediately ran to the house.’

Thankfully Arif was alive. But the house was beyond repair.

‘The house is not liveable: it’s heavily damaged, tilted, the supporting pillar is down, the inside part of the building is cracked,’ Jonah says. It meant the entire family – Jonah, Nadia, Arif and their young nephew – were forced to relocate to a tent.

For three months the family lived like this. They relied on food assistance as Jonah could no longer find work. But the tent became slowly uninhabitable and the assistance began to dry up. They made the decision to move into a camp for people who had been displaced by the earthquake and other issues, which is where they met our local partners, YFH (Yayasan Fondasi Hidup, which in English means Food for Hungry Indonesia Foundation).

YFH supported Jonah and his family by providing them a cash grant to help them rebuild their lives. Cash grants are a way of helping people affected by crises in the fastest, most direct way possible. It also empowers people as they’re able to decide their own priorities. They can use the money to pay for whatever they need most, whether it’s food, shelter, clothing, soap or medicines.

Jonah and Nadia were already cultivating a small garden behind their shelter to grow some food. So, they decided to spend the money on a sewing machine and a motorbike – two things they could use to earn an income.

A family business
Before the earthquake, Jonah’s family were in the clothing business. They already had sewing skills, they just needed the equipment to make a start.

Working together, Jonah and Nadia have been able to make a living from sewing. It’s been hard building up their contacts again – they used to have a list of people who would come to them for tailoring. ‘Anyway, I'm still grateful because we can sew again,’ says Jonah.

Jonah uses the motorbike to pick up deliveries and travel to the market. It has become invaluable to the family business. And as they’ve rebuilt the family business, Jonah and Nadia’s relationship has been restored too.

‘I can clearly see how this earthquake changes the people around me, including myself… We didn’t realise that [our] relationship is very important,’ says Jonah. ‘Before the earthquake, we didn’t care for one another. But after the earthquake… The relationship is closer and closer.’

After every storm there is new light. And this is theirs.


Dear God,
Thank you that even in the hardest of times there is joy – that we are able to find things to bring to you in praise and thanksgiving. Father, we thank you for Jonah and Nadia’s restored relationship. Continue to bless them and their new business.

And where there are hardship and struggles in our own lives, may we find a similar light. And let it lead us even closer to you.

*All names changed to protect identity

This article references events that took place before the coronavirus crisis.

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Written by  Tearfund

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