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Senior Salvation Army officer makes emotional return to devastated Palu

Senior Salvation Army officer makes emotional return to devastated Palu

Senior Salvation Army officer makes emotional return to devastated Palu

5 October 2018

Lieutenant-Colonel Yusak Tampai, Chief Secretary, Indonesia Territory, returns to his devastated homeland of Palu. Emergency relief work is continuing across the affected regions.

IHQ Report

Speaking in an exclusive interview from Palu, Lieutenant-Colonel Yusak Tampai, Chief Secretary of the Indonesia Territory, shares his reaction upon arriving back in his ruined childhood home.

“I was crying,” says Lieut-Colonel Tampai as he recalls the scenes of devastation that greeted him as he toured his childhood home. “I had a few members of family who were missing, but eventually they were found – some who were injured as well. But seeing my hometown destroyed is very, very sad. Seeing my people being strong is, though, encouraging.”

Describing the courage and determination of local Salvationists and volunteers, he commends the “high spirit”, particularly of young people who went out in challenging conditions to search for people reported as missing. “They have been strong in these days – this is one of the greatest positive [pieces of] news I’ve seen,” he says.

Lieut-Colonel Tampai encourages the injured.

Lieut-Colonel Tampai explains that the emergency phase of The Salvation Army’s response in Palu is expected to continue for at least two months.

Food and medical assistance will need to be provided throughout this time, given the scale of the destruction that has been caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

The challenges of distributing food in locations where supplies are scarce and access routes interrupted is brought into focus in the interview. “There are thousands of houses flattened on the ground … many churches, many buildings, including those of The Salvation Army,” explains Lieut-Colonel Tampai.

Temporary shelter is anticipated to be a pressing need for at least six months, as survivors rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

“The international community will have a major role to provide support for the recovery,” he says.

In the midst of ongoing aftershocks, The Salvation Army continues to provide medical assistance to hundreds of injured people at its Woodward Hospital in Palu. Earlier damage sustained to the facility has now been temporarily patched. Two separate medical teams have reached more remote villages, with the intention to enhance this outreach as numbers of available doctors and nurses increase.

Following participation in a daily coordination meeting of disaster response agencies in the city, The Salvation Army has begun a trauma care program in some of the makeshift tented communities that have been set up around the city. 

Salvationists and volunteers helping prepare food.

The Salvation Army teams have been bolstered by friends from the Methodist and Chinese churches, working together and pooling resources. In some cases, team members have been getting up to pray together from 4.30am, before undertaking a full day’s service in their local community.

Asked how people around the world can help The Salvation Army’s response in Palu, Lieut-Colonel Tampai responds: “Prayers would be the first. Secondly, please, please give your donations (see link below) and we will greatly appreciate it.

“It’s a sense of being part of the world – it makes [our team] feel not totally cut off. That is encouraging,” he adds. “The Salvation Army in Central Sulawesi and the surroundings are very grateful and deeply encouraged by any financial and spiritual support given to help us. 

“Pray for the restoration of the infrastructure to take place very soon. Pray for the team, so that they are strong and effective. Pray for the people that they feel comfort and encouraged in facing these challenges. Pray for security – that the city is secure and that people are understanding [of] the difficulties of each other.”

The full interview with Lieut-Colonel Tampai, speaking to David Giles from IHQ Communications, can be heard at

Donations can be made through the Australian fundraising site here.








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