• IA

Kulkas bagus

Yesterday, we were in the camp where the refugees from the Tulamben region are sheltered. No house. No tent. A roof on posts, without walls, about 15 by 20 meters, in the back some sort of kitchen (well, they cook there, but apart from that it has no qualities which we associate with a kitchen), in front, in a separat building, sanitary installations. That's it. No furniture, no chair, no table, no bed, only a few blue pastic sheets to cover the dusty cement floor. 758 people are currently living here. Some already went home, says the officer from the governement. Before, there were 820 people here.

We look around. Mainly women and children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, sit in small groups on the floor. There is little talk and even fewer laughing, but many people give us a friendly smile. They know us. Last week, we had brought them some provisions, rice, oil, sugar, coffee, noodles..., the famous drop in the ocean. We want to help again. "What do you need most urgently?" we ask. Polite head shaking, oh, just bring whatever you want. The Balinese don't like to ask for help. Gazing at some food on the floor, carelessly thrown rice sacks, boxes with water in plastic bottles, a mountain of eggplants long past their non existing expiry date... "Perhaps they could do with a fridge", ponders my husband in German. Immediately, some exited murmuring can be heard, "Kulkas..." - "... Kulkas" - "Klukas bagus!" Thanks to the dutch word Kulkas which is close to the german word Kühlschrank the language barrier was easily transcended. Bagus - even we understand this: Bagus means "really good". We have a second fridge down in one of our old buildings. They can use it as long as the people are stuck here. Somebody is already organizing tranportation.

On the way back, we pass some sort of improvised barn, or rather a range. Around 40 masticating cows are bound in the shadow of some big mango trees. They belong to the refugees, a resident of the village explains. If they had tried to sell them prior to their flight they would have got at the most 30% of the actual value. So they brought them here. They are lucky to be here in our camp, he adds. In the bigger camps in the South there is no space for animals.