Stories of Change

Maria Magdalena Hoar Fahik is from another of the families who received supplies from CWS to recover following Cyclone Seroja. She is pictured here with supplies from CWS.

Helpful supplies when they were needed most

When Cyclone Seroja slammed into Timor-Leste and Indonesia in April 2021, it caused devastating flash flooding and landslides. Nearly half a million people were affected, including a death toll of 179 and 11,406 people who were displaced due to damaged or destroyed homes. Elisabeth Hoar and her 7-year-old granddaughter, Agnes, were among those who were forced from their homes. Agnes’s parents are migrant workers on another island in Indonesia, so it’s just Agnes and Elisabeth at home. 

Elisabeth and Agnes live in Forekmodok village in Indonesia, near the Benenain River. When Cyclone Seroja hit, the river overflowed its banks. The resulting flash flooding swept through Forekmodok, badly damaging it and then spreading to neighboring villages. 

When the flooding hit, Elisabeth took Agnes and fled to a neighbor’s home on higher ground. In their haste, they left all of their belongings at home. For a week, they lived off the generosity of their neighbors for food and water while their own home was submerged in mud. Unfortunately, their garden–which had been ready for harvest–was also badly damaged. 

Elisabeth says that on the third day after the flooding, a lot of help arrived. The district government, churches, community groups and organizations like CWS came to help families as they recovered. First, Elisabeth received emergency food help from a Catholic church: 11 pounds of rice and some kitchen utensils. The second group that brought relief, she says, was CWS. Our team provided her with a package of household supplies. Elisabeth and Agnes made up one of the 680 families who received these packages–nearly 3,000 people in total. 

The kit that Elisabeth received had lots of supplies to help her bridge the gap until she and Agnes could return home. It included blankets, mats, bath soap, laundry soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, a tarpaulin, buckets, masks, hand sanitizer, nail clippers, a comb, brooms and dish clothes. “I feel happy because this assistance can help me and my grandchild fulfill the needs of items that we want to buy,” Elisabeth said. “I no longer need to buy blankets, bath soap and other supplies, so we can save money to use to meet other necessities of life such as food. So, we get double help: useful supplies and saving our money.” 

Having lived through the devastation of the flash flooding, Elisabeth says she has learned a lot in case it happens again. “The assistance I received from CWS seemed to give me advice that if next year there is another flood, I will try to save my household items before evacuating. That way, when the flooding comes, not everything will be washed away and there are things that can be saved. Hopefully flash floods like this don’t happen again,” she said.

When Elisabeth, Agnes and their neighbors had a need, the CWS family was there with practical, useful supplies. We are grateful for all of our donors who supported this response.