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Placement students suspend programme to join Lombok earthquake relief effort

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They thought they’d be spending their summer helping athletes with disabilities on the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali, but now six students have halted their once-in-a-lifetime placement and joined the effort to get aid to remote areas of the country left devastated by recent earthquakes.

The students, from Brunel University London, were in the country to assist the Bali Sports Foundation (BSF), but have now suspended their eight-week programme to deliver food and supplies to affected areas in Lombok and Gili.

The area has been struck by a series of deadly earthquakes in recent weeks, with tremors of up to 6.9 magnitude still being felt over the weekend.

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The six students (from left to right): Ryan Anderson, Olivia Creanet-Birch, Rebecca Stone, Rute Pereira, Juan Herrera (back left) Harry Lee-Allan, (right)

“BSF is sponsored by a boat company called Bluewater Express,” said Olivia Creaney-Birch, 21, an industrial design student from Canterbury who was in Bali to work on the design of wheelchairs.

“We heard that they were transporting aid across to Lombok and Gili, and we began assisting them with loading and unloading the boats. As time has gone on we’ve become more involved, buying supplies according to requests from contacts on the ground, and helping determine where the aid is distributed, ensuring it goes to the villages where other aid hasn’t yet reached. 

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“The locals are on constant standby due to the reoccurrence of earthquakes – in some areas 90% of housing has been destroyed and left thousands homeless."

Whilst Bali – where the students are still based – was struck by the earthquake, damage was relatively limited.

“In Lombok and on the Gili islands there is a lot of damage, however,” said Rebecca Stone, 19, a sports psychology student from Maidstone. “Buildings have fallen down, trees have been uprooted and some roads have split in half.

“Whole villages have been cut off from the rest of the island, so delivering aid there has been difficult to sustain. Camps have been set up for people who have lost their homes completely.”

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The students were up at 6am to load the boats to Lombok 

To support relief efforts, the students have been purchasing goods from supermarkets and wholesalers in Bali and loading them onto the Bluewater Express, before completing the four-hour passage to Lombok, where they’re unloaded again at BSF’s facility.

From there, the goods – which include essentials such as eggs, sugar, milk, rice and baby powder – are distributed in a hire-car to remote villages by BSF co-founder Chris Pardey, with the assistance of local relief workers.

“We drive 60 to 120 minutes north to remote camps, villages and households which have so far had less access to aid and that don’t have their own transport,” said Chris, a Brunel alumnus who sets-up and oversees the placements with BSF. “The roads are not accessible by truck, and some not even by car – the villages come by motorbike to collect from our car. 

“We have a very capable Indonesian lady, Flora, who is liaising with local village heads to identify what is needed in remote areas and the number of people in the communities. She ensures the provisions are split amongst the communities.”

None of the students remain on Lombok overnight, due to continuing tremors.

Lombok IN6 “There is still a lot of work to be done though – some villages have been cut off, and we’re now trying to target and get aid to them.”

To complement their efforts on the ground, the team has also begun fundraising, reaching out to local businesses and setting up a GoFundMe page for online donations. BSF are also fundraising through their website.

Every donation received will be put towards the relief effort.

“The Indonesian government and agencies on the ground are doing a great job of getting help to where it’s needed, but we’re proud of the contribution we’ve been able to make,” said international politics student Ryan Anderson, 22, from the Wirral.

“There is still a lot of work to be done though – some villages have been cut off, and we’re now trying to target and get aid to them.”

“Most of the people are in plastic tents and surviving off basic supplies – dirty water has been an issue. It’s hard to get rebuilding when the earthquakes are still occurring.

Harry Lee-Allan, 21, from Colchester, said: “The locals are on constant standby due to the reoccurrence of earthquakes – in some areas 90% of housing has been destroyed and left thousands homeless.

“They are in desperate need of essentials and aid.”

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Whilst the student’s time in Indonesia is limited, they plan to keep fundraising and supporting efforts in Lombok, even once they return to their studies. 

“We will continue our fundraising when we are back in Brunel,” said Rute Pereira, 21, a product design engineering student from Portugal.

“Although our time in Bali will have finished, it is nowhere close to finished for the locals of Lombok.”

To donate to the student’s GoFundMe campaign, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/bsf-lombok-earthquake-appeal

To donate via the Bali Sports Foundation, please visit http://balisports.com/foundation/donate

Photography courtesy of @thesalty.dreamers

Reported by:

Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268965