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Empowering Children Community in Porong

The onset of mudflow disaster was at 10.00 p.m., on 29 May 2006. It was initiated by leakage of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas in the area of gas exploration rig in Banjar Panji 01, managed by Lapindo Brantas Inc. (Lapindo) in Renokenongo Village. The seepage was first characterized with the burst of white smoke from cracked ground. The height of the smoke about 10 meter. The white gas followed with mudflow to the land of local people.

The mudflow certainly leads to serious traffic jams and distortions in toll road and railway transportation flows. The State Owned Railway Enterprise (PT. Kereta Api) sometimes has to heighten the railway sleepers due to the mudflow. The local people sadly have to evacuate their homes and stay in evacuation points , especially in the Hall of Kedung Bendo Village, Porong Sector Police Department and Pasar Baru Market that is newly constructed by the Regency Government of Sidoarjo.

The Regency Government of Sidoarjo is not ready to handle the evacuees. It is clear as they often fails to supply foods for the evacuees and is too late to evacuate the local people when the mud lunges their homes.

On 16 August 2006, the mud started to penetrate the farms of the local people in Besuki Village. In fact, they were about to enjoy harvesting time in less than 10 days’ time. Since then the mud flow massive destruction by the mudflow has made the farms stop yielding crops. About 28 hectare farms made more than 100 landlords and farm workers lost their incomes. Moreover, the hot mud and water lunged their dwellings. Although, the mud later dried and the people could return homes, the mud had already destroyed their deep well water resources. Up to the present date they no longer can consume deep well water, but use it for public bathing, washing and toilet facilities.

On 22 November 2006, Pertamina gas pipeline on the East of the toll road exploded as it had been broken due to soil layer degradation. The explosion submerged Renokenongo Village and some of Kedung Bendo Village. More than half of the villagers had evacuated to Pasar Baru Market, Porong. The explosion not only spouted thick mud but also extremely strong smell. The ammoniac like smell still affects in hundreds radius. The researchers from the Health Service signaled that the smell originated from hazardous and poisonous substances, such as, Phenol, H2S, NO2 and NH3.

The explosion and gas pipe leakage turned to be a great disaster after the volume of spouting mud increases day by day. At first, it was only about 5,000 m3 per day. Unfortunately, it increased from 40,000 m3 to 50,000 m3 and even 126,000 m3 per day. As the volume got increasing, Renokenongo Village and some next door villages submerged in the mud.

Being restless to face the bewildering situations, on 18 September 2006, the a great number of residents of Besuki Village claimed for reimbursement to PT. Lapindo Brantas Inc. for the losses and damages they suffered from. After teens of actions, and at least 3 times ended in confrontation with the security apparatus. At last, by the issue of the Regulation of President Number 14/2007 on 08 April 2007, their restlessness was surprisingly responded. Besuki Village is not included into the map of impacted area. The residents of Besuki villages were simply concluded as victims of natural disaster. Accordingly, they have no rights to get any reimbursement.

The disappointment continued when Regulation of President Number 48/2008 was issued as an amendment the Regulation of President Number 14/2007. It was not a good solution as it divided the area of Besuki Village into 2: West Besuki Village that is included into impacted area to be reimbursed with the support of National Budget and East Besuki Village that is included into the non-impacted area not to be reimbursed. This controversial regulation drove a number of conflicts. Escalated horizontal conflicts, issues and slanders emerged due to unclear and unofficial statement from the government concerning different treatments to West Besuki Village and East Besuki Village. Hearsays and gossips about one or certain factors from the two different areas led to social and relative conflicts and disputes in these two areas, even in the same village, was heating.

The damages to the environments (due to either natural disasters or human errors) often bring adverse effects to human beings. Brittle environment, insensitive society, poor reduction management on natural disaster impacts, irresponsive government are only some of issues that are not well aware of. It is not surprising to find that when natural disaster stroke, the people were not prepared at all to anticipate them. They even did not know how to minimize bad effects following the natural disasters. The only step they could do well was how to save their lives. Such a condition practically ignited horizontal conflicts between in individual and the others. In consistence with the history of surviving human race, only the species that can cooperate with others to cope with problems are the surviving ones.

The same happens among the residents of Besuki Village (East of toll road that will thereafter be called as East Besuki), Jabon Sub District, when they are cope with the hot mudflow from a gas well belonging to Lapindo Brantas Inc. Such hot mudflow once inundated almost the whole area of East Besuki Village. It submerged the whole farms of the villagers and made them no longer re-plantable. The worse, was that it also flooded their homes.

The communities that once had been well settled and had relatively sound relationship with other suddenly disputed each other. Besuki Village that used to be one, is currently divided into two with different destinies. Those dwelling in West Besuki Village in the West of the Surabaya-Gempol toll road relatively got better destiny when compared to their counterparts in the East Besuki village. They not only got reimbursement for their farms that had been submerged in the mud, but also compensations for their lands and homes, living supports and relocation allowances. On the other hands, those dwelling in East Besuki Village only got reimbursement for failing harvests due to the mudflow.

This different destiny factually led to horizontal conflicts. The disappointment to the government due triggered by different reimbursement treatments, anger and discouragement made each of the communities sensitive and emotional. At least, there had been massive fightings between the communities of East Besuki Village and the ones of the West Besuki Village twice. Fortunately, the consistent and steady efforts undertaken by each of the parties to take peaceful settlements at last have reduced the horizontal conflicts. Frankly, it is clear that vengeance still sometimes turn up.

The youths and children face crucial problem too. The environment is longer friendly to them. In this case, the youths have no accesses to get decisions concerning their future and become parts of marginal societies-the children even face worse problems. They not only face health problems but also loose playing grounds and spaces. The youths are pretty lucky as they can play in other villages move to other places for works. Sadly, the disaster becomes some kind of curse to them. They even cannot comfortably study in their schools. It is certainly a real tragedy since we are all aware that youths and children are all our future.

Referring to the aforementioned, it is conclusive that the potential conflicts and environmental destructions are unavoidable for the heterogeneous communities, especially the depending and apathetic ones. Accordingly a proper solution worth to propose is to offer direct peaceful programs for the communities. Such peaceful activities are to be community-oriented, i.e. : direct initiative building among the communities in order to become strong and empowered communities that are capable of properly identifying and solving problems.

East Besuki Village, Jabon Sub District, is supposed to be the right village to take the program after we have assessed and assisted some areas in Porong Sub District, Tanggulangin Sub District and Jabon Sub District. In East Besuki Village, the communities heterogeneously. The organization of various communities (as a small part of the villagers) is a strategic step. With some members of the communities we established a community library and conducted some creative activities for 8-12 years old children in a living room of a resident where we used is as a community forum in February 2009. There used to be a democratic learning group involving youths and a few adults. Unfortunately, the limited financial and material supports, this group is presently vacuum. In short the target of the program comprises all members of humanity workshop communities totally consisting 100 children, youths and adults.

To be able to analyze, manage and solve their problems is a fundamental pillar of an independent community where the active roles of each of the communities are valuable investment. In the course of its development, the surviving members of communities are challenged to take steady breakthroughs to cope with problems among the communities. In addition, the older relational pattern still counts on the government policies to solve the community problems. This program is supposed to encourage the community to organize themselves and take proper steps to cope with the existing problems, from the ones in community structure establishment through environmental and network problems.

The communities (varying in terms of ages and potentials) that are supposed to be the ones capable of actively involving in the application of this program to implement the concepts of peace oriented to community empowerment. These communities are supposed to establish various forms of communications among their members and with the ones out of their communities in order to maximize all available potentials through well-balanced and mutual cooperation.

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