when you have five minutes before it all burns down…

What do you do when you only have five minutes before everything you have burns down in flames?

For most of us, that is never a question we have to ask. But for the community members of Muara Baru, that was a decision they had to make last Sunday morning when an entire section of the community burned to the ground.


“The flames started around 11am and we only had about five minutes before it would reach our house. We threw some of our clothes in the water reservoir and then ran towards the street. Everything we owned is now gone,” one of the ladies of the community told us as we were walking through the rubble near where her house used to be.


Her and her family put up bamboo poles and a tarp to create a makeshift hut where they could spend the night. “We are more fortunate than most to be able to buy a couple necessities. We decided that it is better to at least be where our home is…and at least now because of the fire there are no mosquitos.”  That she could find something positive, like their being less mosquitos, in the midst of losing everything, absolutely astounded me. 


The community is now starting the rebuilding phase. They work to make a few dollars, buy building materials, build what they can of their house, and then go back to working to make more money so they can continue building. 


Some of the residents have set up blue tarps to create makeshift tents where they can stay while they finish building their huts.


As I was walking through the rubble, I was amazed at the community’s resilience—at their ability to deal with what happened and move forward and begin to rebuild.  I think it also helped me understand their attachment to where they live. To me, their living conditions may not have seemed great—but to them it is home. The same community burned about 10 years ago and they rebuilt it. So this time around they will rebuild again…even if it is just to live in for a few months before the government of Jakarta tears down the whole community and moves them to the new government housing. 


Not only was I amazed at their resilience, but I was hit with a weight of responsibility for our reaction as Partners for Compassion. As Community Development Coordinator, I have a part in what type of aide we send them.  I have a responsibility to help them and serve them.Seeing the adults working at rebuilding and the kids playing in the rubble, it helped me to begin to feel the need rather than analyze it simply make decisions based on facts without truly feeling their need.


I love this community. I love the people. I am excited to see how they respond to crisis and to get to be a part of helping them move towards rebuilding.  

One thought on “when you have five minutes before it all burns down…

  1. It is so sad to see the devastation of these people. Our hearts go out to them. No doubt you are a special blessing to them.

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