While many of us were feeling daunted by the rebuilding task facing the earthquake victims, there are no-nonsense coiled springs in the rally fleet who leapt into action almost as soon as their feet hit dry land. By the time Jack and I arrived in Lombok, Kimi and Trevor of Slow Flight and a core team of other movers and shakers saw that while the big relief entities had most primary and secondary students studying again in makeshift classrooms, the kindergarten children and their parents were left out with no where to go. In no time they decided to build a temporary schoolhouse for the area’s little ones and the effort was well underway when we arrived.
Cruisers with engineering and building experience put their heads together with local experts in native building techniques and in no time they had a design, got the site cleared, the perimeter laid out and materials ordered and delivered.
While Trevor coordinated the builders, Kimi guided the volunteers who showed up day after day wanting to pitch in.
The buzz of activity also spurred the surrounding community to make headway on their own daunting task of clearing the rubble from their homesites in preparation for rebuilding when relief funds become available. Streets and laneways that were impassable gradually got cleared and defined again. A daily walk to the building site was almost like watching time-lapse photography, so quick was the pace.
All of this comes at a price, of course, and Trevor and Kimi organized a fundraising night at the marina. Cruiser musicians provided the entertainment and all of the boats donated what they could to help pay for materials.
Many of us also lent tools to the effort, and there was a secondary call for donations of food, clothing, and personal care items for some of the more inaccessible villages that haven’t yet been reached by the big relief organizations. Every day we cruisers, aware of our privilege and bounty, brought bags and bags of canned goods, rice and other dry goods from our boats, along with clothes, diapers, and toilet items and whatever else we thought might help, like flashlights, batteries, rope, tarps, and so on. The donations piled up at the marina shelter, got sorted and organized, and eventually delivered via 4-wheel-drive vehicles to remote communities.
No matter what else was going on during the rally stop, work on the school continued all day, every day. The core building crew put in 10 and 12 hour days to finish what Kimi described as an “achievable goal.” To us older folks with worn out knees and aching backs it only seemed achievable by the younger among us. And boy did they work hard! Even the kids pitched in and while everyone put in what hours they could moving debris piles, clearing pathways, sorting bamboo poles and whatever else we could, the bulk of the work was done by the strong backs and nimble hands of youth. They were a force of nature, driven by a desire to leave the place better for having been there.
The kids and moms started to gather at the site as soon as a space was cleared for them and I think their presence was a constant inspiration to the weary builders.