On Monday night last week, a huge fire occurred in a densely populated area of Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta. Flames spread rapidly and soon close to 300 houses were engulfed and destroyed causing the affected families to take refuge in the nearest available open space: the public cemetery. It was devastating.

My friend Irma, who works in high-rise building nearby, passed this information along to our group of friends through our “What’s App” group text. A friend and I had worked in the same office a while back, so this catastrophe really struck close to home. And our girl-gang of five really wanted to do something about it.

In addition to Irma, and myself are our friends Avi and Zaki. We are all university buddies. My sister, Gina has since become very close with us as well. We bonded over our love of food and travel.

Not knowing who we could rely on to help and compounded by the upcoming Jakarta’s Governor election, the disaster area is rife with booths of political parties.

So, we decided to just do the whole thing ourselves.

Using social media and word-of-mouth, we somehow managed to gather a large sum of money and used clothing to help those affected by the fire. The donations were way beyond our expectations, and made us a bit anxious that we would not be able to deliver the help needed.

Based on a survey conducted by Irma, we made a list of things that are essential for the families taking refuge. On Saturday, we went shopping for milk, baby food, diapers, blankets, medicine, canned foods, etc. After we put all of the essentials in the car, we stopped by Irma’s office to pick-up all of the clothing donations and we printed a list of how we used our benefactors’ donations.

We dropped the goods at a post run by locals, and had a brief chat. For now, all the donations coming in are sufficient enough to meet the basic needs of those affected by the fire.

What they need now is school related supplies and school uniforms. If you are interested in helping out, please let us know!

When girls gather, it is not always just gossips and giggles. This has shown us we can do anything and really make a difference, when we really put our heart into it.

– Shalimma Robbiaswaty

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