Christian Freedom International delivered over 20,000 lbs. of medicines, cooking utensils, tools, and clothing to Nias Island, Indonesia, where residents are still trying to recover from the December 26 tsunami and devastating March 28 earthquake.
Donated by churches and caring individuals in United States, the much-needed supplies are being distributed today through local churches on Nias.
Nias Christians feel they are treated unfairly by the Indonesian government because of their faith.
Octaviusta Bangun, 34, pastors a Protestant church in Gunang Sitoli.
“We are getting no support when you compare to Banda Aceh,” said Pastor Bangun, regarding what he feels is a disproportionate response to aid sent from the Indonesian government to Banda Aceh. The only help we get here is from foreign NGOs.”
Pastor Bangun told Christian Freedom International, “I think we are discriminated against here because we are mostly Christians on Nias. We are not treated the same by our government.”
Perlin, 24, a college student on Nias agrees. “I think we are discriminated against by the government of Indonesia because we are Christians. It is religious discrimination.”
“We get old, expired food and junky things,” Perlin said of the Indonesian government’s response. “The little aid our government supplies us is no good. There is no focus on Nias.”
“If someone’s house is broken there is no help to rebuild, no loans of funding to rebuild. They just give us tents but many of them are no good. We are very much marginalized by the government in Jakarta. We feel it is religious discrimination, religious persecution,” said Perlin.
Of the 462,158 inhabitants of Nias, more than 90 percent are Christian. According to local authorities, 784 people died in the March 28 earthquake, another 781 were injured. The earthquake left 73,934 people as refugees. Many of the refugees have moved away, live with relatives, or are living in tents on Nias.
Some 9,243 homes were completely destroyed, and another 16,894 homes damaged in the earthquake Ninety-five churches were destroyed while 1,611 were damaged.
In the six months since the earthquake, few, if any, of the homes have been rebuilt. None of the churches have been rebuilt.
“The Christians here have little to no money to even rebuild their homes, let alone rebuild and support their churches. They need a lot of help,” said Christian Freedom International president Jim Jacobson.
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