The Indonesia earthquake: On the ground in central Sulawesi

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Bintang*, 15, is lucky to be alive.

He was at school on September 28, 2018, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Waves of up to 6 metres hammered the coastline, and more than 170 aftershocks, registering up to 6 in magnitude, struck the island.

Bintang’s school was close to the beach and in the direct path of the tsunami. There was widespread panic, but fortunately Bintang and his peers had participated in a disaster risk management training program run by Plan International, so they knew what to do.

“I was playing volleyball with my friends in the school yard, nine of them, when the tsunami hit,” he says. “We remembered from our lessons that when this happens we have to go to higher ground. We went up on a mountain…all of us were safe.”

Plan International’s disaster risk management training – particularly engaging youth –  is a preventive safety measure taught in communities vulnerable to natural disasters. This training is made possible, thanks to the generous support of our donors, and in Bintang’s case, the lessons learned were the difference between life and death.

Not only did donor support help keep children like Bintang safe during the disaster, but in the aftermath, immediate action and generous contributions helped – and continues to help – provide lifesaving necessities to those in greatest need of the estimated 1.5 million people affected.
Woman and girl in tent

Mrs. Suti and her six children (including Titi, pictured here), are some of these individuals. Their family home was destroyed by the tsunami. Today they live in a temporary space, where your support is helping them remain safely together, and hopeful.

Our emergency response

With the backing of donors like you, our Emergency Response Team is on the ground providing humanitarian assistance to those in the worst affected areas; drinking water and food has already been distributed to reach hundreds of families in need, while over 1,500 water filters are also en route.

One of our current priorities is to ensure families have emergency shelter kits, made up of tarpaulins, sleeping mats and blankets, so those who have lost their homes have a safe place to sleep at night. Over 1,000 families have already been reached through these distributions, with many more kits on the way.

In addition, as we continue to promote hygiene awareness messaging throughout camps to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases, thousands of hygiene kits containing essentials like toothbrushes, soap, menstrual pads and diapers are being widely distributed with several further in tow.

Reuniting lost children with their families continues to be a major priority that our dedicated experts are carefully tackling as they also make psychosocial counselling accessible midst the traumatic events.

woman holding hygiene kit.

A woman receives hygiene supplies to support her health and that of her family.

And, made possible in part by compassionate Canadians like you, we’re providing emergency school kits to children unable to attend school, as well as working with teachers to help adapt and continue lessons while schools remain closed – all of which help restore a sense of normalcy, routine and structure for children, promoting healing and protecting childhoods.

To date, hundreds of children have been taking part in mobile recreational activities, and temporary community, learning and activity centres have been set up across 6 separate camps.

Children sit in circle with thumbs up.

Child Friendly Spaces provide children with counselling, education and fun activities in the aftermath of the earthquake.


Thank you for answering the call to uplift affected children and families across Indonesia – saving lives by sharing resources, aid, care and hope when they have needed it most.

Through your support, we will assist 10,000 families in the coming days and weeks, helping them recover and rebuild their lives. You can help us reach and protect even more children and families with ongoing aid.

*Name has been changed for protection purposes