On August 5th, my brother Josh and I, were at the epicentre of the 7.0 earthquake that hit Lombok, Indonesia.
In the 10 minutes preceding, we sat on the idyllic white sandy beach of Gili Air awaiting an outdoor cinema screening of The Greatest Showman. The eve of my birthday, what better way to turn 21. We ordered drinks. The sea washed the shore. A Britain’s Got Talent audition entertained an awaiting audience. A young child auditioned with his father. They sang a song called ‘We’re the lucky ones’.
Without warning, within minutes, we found ourselves in the midst of the most unimaginable, indescribable panic. The ground beneath our feet became paper thin, fragile and untrustworthy; it threw us across its surface; it broke. Earthquakes don’t just exist on the torn and tattered pages of geography textbooks. This one flattened everything in sight, it stole the lives of 563 people and injured thousands.
We were the lucky ones.
A month later, a 7.6 earthquake with its epicentre close to the provincial capital, Palu, triggered a tsunami which killed 2,100, a figure officials fear may triple when all missing people are accounted for.
I awaken every morning reminded of the miracle that saved Josh and I, thankful that I have a day ahead of me. Though we survived, so many people around us didn’t and their families are mourning. While I go home every night, hundreds of thousands of locals no longer have homes. Though the ground beneath my feet now stands secure, theirs remains an ever-shakeable threat. While our trauma lasted a week, theirs continues even now, and as I heal they continue to hurt.
The poignancy of that BGT audition sits with me every day. We’re the lucky ones.
As we spent night after night amidst chaotic evacuation efforts, The Greatest Showman played on repeat on that outside cinema screen, powered by a generator, emitting a single source of unaffected light; light-hearted song and dance, an inappropriate backdrop to the
surrounding devastation and death. In a similar way, our own lives can’t help but continue; our stories play out, repeat and go on, and the ground beneath us is stilled. As we normalise and recover, their lives remain impossibly painful. But we can support them.
Over 1.5 million people in Indonesia have been affected by this series of earthquakes.The true scale of the disaster is only now becoming clear. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and entire communities have been decimated. 200,000 survivors are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, around a quarter of whom are children.
The Disasters Emergency Committee brings together the UK’s 14 leading aid charities to provide and deliver aid to ensure successful appeals. Member charities and their Indonesian partners are working closely with national authorities to provide food, clean water, first aid and shelter especially needed for the upcoming monsoon season.
I am running the Bath half marathon to raise funds for those for whom this tragedy remains a reality.
I would love your support for those still suffering and in need.
We really are the lucky ones.