Monday, June 19, 2006


National Geographic Photographer Wannabe
(Posing infront of Merapi)

Two weeks after our trip to Jogja, the ancient city was hit by a massive quake that killed thousands and made thousands more, homeless. As muslims , we can’t say that we have cheated death . We were plain lucky, insyallah , as the area of the hotel we stayed was amongst the places that were shaken by the dreaded phenomenon. Drroza was the first to encourage me to volunteer this time, unlike the 2 previous missions when she was a bit reluctant. I queried on her willingness to let me go and she replied that our recent trip there and having walked the grounds were the encouraging factors. Apparently, familiarity has created a certain degree of bond towards the people and the 'ancient' city, for us! And the calling was strong.

(However I was tempoarily accepted as a local Hobbit)

On arrival, we headed for Klaten (one of the hit area) and met up with the President of GPM who briefed us on things. Pak Rafaai, a physician and also head of DDI (Dewan Dakwah indonesia) strongly requested that I went up Merapi to attend to the sick villagers up there. As the rest of the entourage was reluctant to go up in view of the impending outburst of Merapi, I went alone and they headed for Jogjakarta, where GPM has a clinic running for the quake victims. Overthere, Dr Lee, the orthopedecian who came with me, had conducted several orthopedic surgeries.

Rumah Pak Suharto
(My Temporary Hobbit Hole)

At the end of the first day, after attending to a fairly heavy clinic, we recieved news of renewed activities of Merapi and I was adviced by GPM people to join them down the mountain. Having seen the villagers who badly need medical treatment, I agreed to continue rendering my service up there. But this was not after much self-deliberation. Pak Suharto, my host, had given me strong assurance that in any dire instances, they were well prepared to escape in a vehicle within seconds; the fastest route, the safest direction and the time to be taken, these were all calculated. Furthermore, he has a personal mini seismology kit that measures the seismic activity of Merapi constantly alerting us of impending eruption. But what was more reassuring was the fact that we were just 50 m away from the seismologic observation post, with personnels monitoring Merapi's activity around the clock. And there were young villagers keeping vigil to warn others as well. Throughout my 4 days stay up there, I had the life-time opportunity to see fresh flowing red lava and the sinister 'wedhus gembel' up close ! The village that I stayed was not particularly at risk from being smothered by hot lava as there was a small valley separating it from the peak. They have even erected 'paths' for the lava to flow with bridges on top!

Merapi Trail
(At Perut Merapi, 4 km from the peak)

But whatwas worrying was the horrifying hot clouds (with temperature up to 3000 deg celcius) that can travel up to an astonishing speed of 200km/hr. Again Pak Suharto, reassured me that once a hot cloud is being detected coming their way, a sirence would blare and in an instance they'd bundle up in a car and head the opposite direction. A moving hot cloud in the air will dissipate it's heat after travelling about 4 km. More dangerous, are hot clouds that do not travel in the air but roll down the mountain in great speed and would wipe out anything that comes in its path. This was what occured in the eruption of 94 where a whole village called Dusun Turgo, Kabupaten Sleman was wiped out in an instance!

On Merapi with my assistants
(4 km from the peak)

At the moment, Merapi is causing much grief to the inhabitants. We do not expect it to explode like Krakatoa which destroyed itself and causing destruction hundreds of kilometres away. These people have been commuting up and down the mountain to look after their herd, crops and house daily for the past three months. They took care of their properties in the day and stayed at the 'pengungsi' for the night. Jogja and Klaten were actually facing two calamities, the earthquake and eruption of Merapi.

Kids of Merapi

Each day I saw a fairly large crowd of patients who don't understand me nor me, them! But I was assisted by several good locals like Pak Suharto's family and his sister in law Ibu Yamik . They helped me dispense medications and became my translators. Besides the usual ailments, many of them suffered from anxiety and we didn't come prepared with any psychotrophic drugs. I made note of the various drugs needed.

Faces of Pengungsi
(At Posko Manisrenggo)

My young assistants were very polite when talking to elders, for instance,"Pak Dokter..., bapak tadi bilang 'marto nuwun', sama seperti terima kasih. kalau mahu, kita bisa jawab 'sama sama' atau dalam bahasa jawanya 'sami sami', smiled Umi, Putut's fiance (student at Solo University).

Super senior citizen
(A 110 years old lady seeking treatment at at Posko Kesihatan and
I am using layers to blur and lighten the background.)

Mobile clinic at Manisrenggo, Merapi

Putut is Pak Suharto eldest of three. He graduated in business at a university in Jogja and now trying to be a businessman at his kampung. The other kids that helped to run the clinic was Isna (Putut's cousin, Architecture student at Solo University), Andid (Isna's brother, Mechanical Engineering student also at Solo University), Ditta Ipomania (Pak Suharto's daughter who just finished high school) and Aida, a family friend.

Unavoidable pollutants
(Merapi Spewing ash)

Ash cloud causing 'Hujan Abu'
(Its moving towards Kabupaten Sleman)

After the Fajr Prayers, I walked up Merapi to enjoy the scenic sunrise. Putut and his friends took me up the mountain to good spots where professional photographers wait for 'the moment.' It was about 5 km from the peak and on my third day, we went until about 3 km from the peak and Putut said, "Pak Dokter, kita sekarang berada di perut Merapi. Di sini agak merbahaya kerana laluan evakuasinya kurang baik." That day was a bit quiet with no hot cloud to be seen. Just the rumbling sound within Merapi when the hardened lava rocks falling hitting each other.

A Determined Farmer
(Not discouraged by the active Merapi)

Unstoppable Student
( School still opens)

Pak Suharto is a teacher at a primary school by profession. He is the chaiman of Forum Peduli Merapi aimed to improve the livelihood of the Merapi population living at Kecamatan Kemalang, Kabupaten Klaten. The name of his kampung or desa is Deles Indah, as beautiful as the name. The family members are bright, hardworking, polite, caring and artistic. The kids play guitar and have great voices. The voice of Putut and Isna, our medical team described as 'gemersik' but to me sounds like the lead singer of sheila on 7. Ditta's voice is strong, better than Siti's,( sorry la to Siti's fan). A simple description is just 'meremang bulu roma mendengarnya.' At night, after the Isya', the verandah became a meeting place for the village volounteers and people watching the world cup. At Ibu Yamik's home, she had a collection of gamelan instruments bigger than those i saw played in Malaysia.

Unyielding Inhabitants
(They have to feed the herd)

On the fourth day, I had to take leave as I needed to do administrative tasks for GPM based in Jogja. Overthere, I visited and reported to the Angkatan Tentera Malaysia base. It's mandatory for any organizations operating in a foreign land to report to their military body as we are answerable to them once outside Malaysia. Also made contact with the Turkish NGOs' and held discussions with the doctors and staffs. They voiced their dismay saying that they hardly get to see many patients each day and felt as though they were wasting time. But I managed to boost their morale by saying that no matter how small the number of people you have helped, it was still significant because if we muslims don't help other muslims in times of needs, then others will fill in. And of course, this is one of the ways to cement our 'ukhwah' with muslims of another country. After much searching I managed to make contact with the OIC field representative.

Farmer of Merapi

One of my task was to convey the donations given by some friends (3 bloggers and another friend) to Anang and other quake victims. Having made contact, Anang came to see me. He was touched by the donations and felt bad that he can't reciprocate with any gifts. His exact words were " Saya minta maaf Pak, dalam keadaan sekarang saya tidak bisa menyedia sebarang ole-ole. Harap bapak memahami."

At OIC Humanitarian Aid Office

On the last day I was still preoccupied with making reports on the mission. However, the last day was also alotted for the mission members to do some sight-seeing and shopping(R&R) and since I have recent experience with the city, they have persuaded me to bring them around! Thus I ended up being their tourist guide, imparting knowledge that I had gathered previously from Anang. Imagine! I was a doctor, mission-leader, a trainer and tourist guide, all rolled in one!! However, due to some new assignments, my field officer trainee and I had to miss the shopping in the morning to complete the tasks. no shopping for me and Kuza, the trainee.

Earthquake aftermath at Bantul

We went to Desa Canden, Kecamatan Bantul to see the progress of 150 temporary houses donated through GPM. The progress was excellent. Within 3 days 1 house was almost complete, 3 houses 70% complete and the rest had the foundations of the houses prepared. The initial arrangement was for 4 houses followed by the rest if the progress is according to schedule. At the meantime they stayed in tents and nearby mosques.

Cook for Charity
(AT Desa Chanden, Kecamatan Bantul)

My Team
(Almost complete temporary shelter at Desa Chanden, a project by GPM)

I was proud to have Dr. Lee, Dr. Suryasmi, Dr. Ishak, Sister June and Sdri Kuza under my team for they have served whole heartedly for the success of this mission.

Night Eruption

Pyroclastic flow with hot cloud formation

The hot peak

Even now that I am back home, safe and sound, I still think about those people of Merapi. I feel for their desperation. Their yearn for things to normalize. I pray for their safety and that Merapi's fiery angst will subside soon even though it makes good subject for photography, eh Paul Moss?? :-) My body is here but part of me is still with them, feeling their misery.

Wedhus Gembel rising

Fast flow of hot cloud
(unable to see the lava flow due to daylight)


Paul Moss said...


dith said...

Aikks???!! Paul Moss pandai curse in Malay dah??

P.s. 1st flt to Solo tomorrow morning ada seats available lagi weii!

crimsonskye said...

dith: Maybe that's praise in disguise. Maybe he hasn't any complaints this time, much as I love reading them myself... haha. Maybe also he missed taking the shots himself. Could be lots of other maybes I think.

ikelah: The photos and the story tell it all. I have nothing but deep admiration for you and it has just increased my wish to take part in relief missions in the future, insyaAllah. May Allah bless you for your efforts.

Anang's words especially moved me, how, in the face of his losses he could still think of other people before himself. Puts many of us to shame indeed!

mynn said...

even paul moss has nothing to say today. amazing! :)

superb pictures as always always ikelah. the pictures look extremely professional and to me would not look out of place in national geographic.

cool lah the picture of you infront of the volcano. finally got to see the gear you are using -- that is one serious lens you got there. you know what, i also like the picture of the "merapi kids" hehehe, don't know why - it almost looks like a joyride than a rescue mission :)

others i like is "hujan abu" & the one above it.

amazing pictures as always!

ps. the watermark looks abit obstrusive lah, being straight in the middle of the photo. (but then again, kalau letak kat tepi orang boleh cut & crop pulak kan)

mynn said...

lupa nak cakap,

like the new layout very much. semua kita di blogger recently tukar layout eh? hmmmm i wonder who's fault it is?

answer -- dith!

Mama Sarah said...

Wow, Check out that lens!!!

Your 1st photo, who took the photo of you infront of Merapi? And the title just so kelakar. National geographic photographer wannabe.

Like Crimsonskye, touched baca part Anang.

Those kids of merapi, still ada mood utk berhibur eh?

easylady said...

priceless!!pengalaman ini mesti kekal dalam ingatan.Melihat kerosakan kesusahan membuat kita insaf sejenak betapa berharganya kita hidup di negara yang bebas dari bencana besar alam.Kak rroza bila pulak kita nak pergi?

Satu perkara yang saya nampak ialah indonesia dan thailand mempunyai bahasa pertuturan (plus intonation) yang lembut dan memikat.Gaya percakapan mereka juga mendayu tapi kebanyakan mereka "live to survive",mungkin sebab keadaan hidup mereka di bumi yang sentiasa di timpa bencana dan keadaan hidup mereka yang susah. Bahasa melayu kita juga bagus tetapi mungkin telah banyak dicemari dengan gaya bahasa anak muda bercakap.

Eh..kenapa pulak turkish group tak ramai terima pesakit sedangkan u tak menang tangan.? Maaflah ye rojak sikit?

pycnogenol said...

I'm pretty sure those who have donated pun, 'tidak mengharapkan apa-apa ole ole dari Anang. Hadiah Ukhuwwah dan persahabatan adalah hadiah yang tidak ada tolok bandingnya. InsyaAllah, panjang umur kita semua dapat berjumpa nanti, dalam keadaan yang lebih tenang dan aman.

Ikelah said...

I spoke to the Kompass Photographer who took my photo, "Masih menunggu?" He smilled, "Ya Pak, menanti momen."
I had been talking about moment and opptunity when giving motivation/leadership class to youths. The right moment to do transaction, investment, political carrier, jobs, making crucial decisions and even taking photos.

I was supposed to be at the right moment with clear blue sky, minimal cloud and Merapi very active. For the night, it was a clear with nearing full moon to shine on the mountain. That is the Greatness of God reminding us that beauty is not always or necessarily good. However, observing the beauty of God Creation will bring us closer to Him for those who think.

Thanks for the cissss!

Paul,"Na, I ambil flight ke SOlo besok."
Na, "Isk, siapa nak jaga budak, dahlah servant dah balik kampung dan I kena ambil cuti."
Paul,"Jom kita semua ke Sololah kalau macam tu."
Na,"Perut macam ni, mereka beri ke naik flight."

Paul termenung memandang jauh yang tidak kesampaian. ;)

crimson skye

I love this mission best, better than Acheh and Pakistan as i get to know the people more after staying with them with 'sederhana' food on the mountain. I lost a few kg, whereas at Acheh bertambah kilo.

As for Anang, I did manage to get him extra work as a driver and guide to a group of hospital staff coming to Solo-Jogja in the middle of July attending an Islamic Hospital Conference at Universiti Gajah Mada.


Those are not my gear. It belongs to the Kompass Photographer, a Nikon D2H with a long tele.

As for the Merapi Kids, anak dan kemanakan Pak Suharto, thee 3 months stress is long. We dont really know when it will end. As for us in Malaysia we have all sorts of entertainment to ease ourselves from a portable toy to a huge screen. As for them, they dont have PC at their home, they are not glued to the CRT except for the WC matches and occasionally the Indonesian movies. After finishing their assignments, they will strum and pluck the guitar with the others joining in singing. The picture was on our third day when Merapi was a bit quiet, as the locals say, "Ia senyap kerana sedang mengumpul kekuatan."
True enough, two days later it spurted out massive lava with huge hot cloud and 'hujan abu' causing Sleman city to be muddy.

watermark to.... ;) if u need the unmarked, just email me.

mynn again
hehehe.. but i obtained the URL from your site. Fantastic templates. Thank to you for that.

mama sarah
hahaha.... the gadget belongs to Kompas(Indonesia Newspaper), a Pro Photographer. He took the picture with his ingenious skill that need just slight cropping. Thanks to him(did not get his Javanese name, too complex).

Anang is a good friend. He actually tried his best to meet me in Jogja(we met twice) eventhough he was working far at Klaten, arrived back late and tired.

The kids need to be motivated so that when they help at the mobiles, their sweet non stress expression will soothe the misery suffered by the victims. Actually they were also worried of the eruption but were able to overcome it in order to help us. Umi is actually from Klaten and Aida at the foot of Merapi not effected by both earthquake or at risk of Merapi's wrath.

hehehe... kalau dith nak pergi, she needs me around. kalau u nak pergi, u need jo around.... i guess. ;)
we have to check out the rooms and the toilets first...hahahaha

i tak biasa dengan thailand. my encounter with them tak banyak tapi bahasa mereka memang mendayu dayu. Bagi orang jawa, mungkin di sebelah sini, jawa tengah dan jawa timur tetapi tidak di sekitar jakarta. Namun apa yang penting ialah ikatan kekeluargaan, hubungan bersama tetangga yang akrab, semangat kekitaan dalam satu kampung atau kecamatan dapat menyelesaikan banyak masalah keruntuhan akhlak di kalangan remaja mereka. Cara bahasa yang lembut dan penuh sopan santun memang memikat kalbu.

InsyaAllah, mereka yang menderma akan mendapat lebih lagi dari Allah di akhirat kelak dan kita memperolehi seorang rakan yang jauh di tanah jawa untuk bersahabat. Ini giliran meraka diuji, kita tidak tahu bila giliran kita. Kita berarap agar dengan sedikit pengorbanan ini, Allah akan menggerakkan seseorang untuk membantu apabila kita dalam keadaan memerlukan.

Ikelah said...

tentang turkish group. like i had mentioned, they concentrated to the earthquake victims that many groups had giving attention. As for us, we focus on both earthquake and Merapi victims. Furthermore we worked with a good non political local group. Anyway i personally like the turkish doctors, enthusiastic, polite and like to share ideas. He might faced with language problem, need a good interpreter or assistant(as mine at Merapi)not only to translate but to 'sweet talk' to the victims.

Operating as a mobile doctor is not similar as working in a private clinic or hospital. we have to be straight to the point because of the long queue and yet need to satisfy them with the basic requirement and confidence. I spent 2 minutes the most with most patient, checked the blood pressure which was the most important for them (tensinya pak), speak a bit of their language to show that we actually understand them, and dispensed the medications and leave the details to the assistants. ;)

Izhal said...

yoo dont look like a doctor... macam pro photo journalist adalah :D
i'll be back to get a good look at the other photos... have somthing to do for now but coulnt resist my 1st comment :)

hemu2 said...

ikelah, you humbled me with your vocation and amazed me with your pix. dith is sure one lucky gal to be blessed with you!

hemu2 said...

ikelah, you humbled me with your vocation and amazed me with your pix. dith is sure one lucky gal to be blessed with you!

kulo said...

Hmmm...paul moss kalau gi sana tak cukup sekejap.mengalahkan national geographic photographer. silap-silap perasan jadi orang tempatan. anyway, ikelah, congrats akhirnya dapat amik shots semasa merapi beraksi and alhamdulillah dapat pergi dan balik dengan selamat.

dr in the house said...

Hemu2: I may be lucky but I am sure not a gal anymore, hahah!

Kulo- Apa kabo? Sarat dah awok? Paul Moss kata kalau dia kat Merapi dia tak kira Wedhus Gembel ke tidak, sempat lari ke tidak, ada jalan evakuasi atau tidak, dia pergi duduk bertapa gak makan bertih sambil teropong Merapi! Darah Panglima lah katakan!

afie911 said...

I meant to make a comment on this entry but end up posting one on the previous entry. It's cool, but it's a bit confusing though, this new layout. Sorry, if I'm the only one who thinks that! =)

On the pics - Subhanallah! Great pics!

Izhal said...

im sure that the locals have knowledge regarding merapis' wrath. they have folklores and tales they turn to. makes you wonder why they still live their lives there... I guess I would too, its someting about being loyal to your origins i guess...

you know, since this is sort of a 'tragic picture post', i guess some of the photos, especially the ones with people in it would look much dramatic in bnw... for this case, color distracts the drama involved... but pictures of the mountan and with you and the other ppl (+the guy wielding the guitar) is good in color :D

Ikelah said...

haha... thnks

thanks... great gal

paul moss bisa jadi lokal jika ke sana. dia akan naikkan khemah dan menunggu momen hampir dengan puncang dengan tidak menghiraukan bahaya.


i tot ur a gal



the quick entry and this entry, gambarnya hampir sama embak afie.


they have their beliefs. those who believe mbah marijan will wait bacause of mbah marijan's word. others were more because of their live stocks and crops.

as for black and white for certain pic.... i agree...esp for merapi dwellers with merapi on the background.


Panglima said...

salams.. i noticed on top of pak suharto's roof is a radio antenna. hmm... what was it for? *curious*

Ikelah said...

the antenna is for the handset. the line was poor. to call out one has to place the hp into a slot that is connected to a booster and the antenna. one can receive messages off and on without the antenna when the wind blow the wave to the hp....hehehe.

Anonymous said...

nice picture!..

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