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Wahonos appeal for help in Indonesia

Thousands homeless in quake-ravaged area

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Thousands of children are homeless and hungry following a large earthquake in Indonesia last weekend said Jay Wahono, who, with wife Julie, owns and operates the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa in Whistler.

That’s why the Wahonos, who came to Whistler from Indonesia several years ago, are raising donations for the earthquake victims and funneling them through UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

"It is estimated that 15,000 children under the age of five have been affected by this," said Wahono, a father himself.

Fortunately none of Wahono’s family were killed or injured but the 6.3 quake, which happened on Saturday, has closed the family’s spa in the Sheraton Mustika Hotel in Yogyakarta.

It is particularly devastating, said Wahono, because that spa was the first one opened in 1997. It was specifically located in Yogyakarta because it is an ancient city and the cradle of the type of healing the spa services are based on.

"It is likely to take about six months for the hotel and spa to be renovated," said Wahono. All the staff and guests of the hotel have been evacuated.

Yogyakarta is a city and province on the island of Java in Indonesia. It is the only province in Indonesia that is still formally governed by a pre-colonial Sultanate , the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. The city is known as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik , ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows. It is also famous as a centre for Indonesian higher education.

It is estimated that 6,000 people were killed as a result of the quake and up to 100,000 may be homeless.

Julie Wahono’s mother, Mooryati Soedibyo, the founder of the spas and vice-chairman of the Indonesian Parliamentary body, toured the affected area earlier this week and has already donated 500 tents herself, said Wahono.

"People don’t want to go inside their homes anymore because they are afraid of the next earthquake," said Wahono.

"People living outside need tents and it is also the rainy season so a lot of people are really facing very hard conditions. The hospitals are also choked with victims and people are not getting help right away."

The victims are also living under the threat of an imminent eruption of Mount Merapi, which is about 20 kilometres away from Yogyakarta.

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