ACT Gives Economic Empowerment Program to Mount Agung Refugees

ACT Gives Economic Empowerment Program to Mount Agung Refugees

ACTNews, KARANG ASEM – 120 families, around 400 residents of Kesimpar village, Rendang sub-district, Karang Asem – Bali who were afflicted by Mount Agung eruption are still staying in the refugee post of UPT Pertanian.

This village is among the worst-afflicted areas by the eruption, and located within the red zone. 

The condition of the volcano isn't getting any better. On February 11th, the status was decreased from Caution to Stand-by, but another erruption happened on February 13th. The refugees who had returned to their houses had to go back to the refugee posts. 

This condition interrupted the Ingke (Balinese traditional plate made from the leaves of the lontar palm) production activity, an economic empowerment activity initiated by MRI-ACT team. 

But this di not dampen the spirit of the team. According to Aghni Fitriany from ACT's Recovery Coordinator team, this empowerment program was designated to improve the refugees' self-reliance because the lengthy emergency status has depleted their logistical supplies.

Such condition is similar to what's happening to Sinabung refugees, where the long emergency status has weakened their economy and affected their psychological condition.  

Fitriany hoped that this program will be a solution for the refugees' economic problem because they lost their livelihood since they evacuated. 

"Even though this program was initially interrupted by Mount Agung's unpredictable condition, but Alhamdulillah this program keeps running to bring a new hope for the refugees, who are mostly farmers," she said.

Not only teaching them how to make the Ingke, ACT's Recovery Team also helps them with the capital and the marketing of their product.  

Nyoman Arif (39), the head of MRI Bali stated that, at the moment, MRI Bali is helping the villagers with the sales of the Ingke made by the villagers. 

"Alhamdulillah, there have been constant orders for the Ingke, this is a good news. With the spirit to help the refugees, they are not only buying the product, but also supporting the economy of the refugees. This added value of refugee empowerment sparks the interest of the buyers," he explained.  

According to Fitriany, their next plan is to expand both the market and the skills of the Ingke makers who are mostly ladies. "Certainly, we hope that the production will increase and will be able to improve the refugees' economy," she aspired,   

The males, who previously worked as farmers, now work as laborers. 

“By making and selling the Ingke, Alhamdulillah, the ladies are able to help supporting their family's economy," she added.

For two months, the refugees have been supported by prepared meal packages from ACT public kitchen. They also receive grocery supplies, free health care, and trauma healing for the children. 

"There are 100 volunteers, consisting of college students, school students, employees, etc. They have been working hard to help the villagers afflicted by the Mount Agung eruption," she said. 

At the moment, 6.000 people are still being evacuated in 30 different locations. "Hopefully, the condition in Mount Agung will stabilize and the refugees can go back to their villages," she hoped. [] 

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