Posted on Dec 14, 2018
Exchange student raises $1,500 for tsunami relief in Indonesia!
Jessica Batubara, an exchange student from Jakarta, Indonesia, put on a fundraising banquet Friday evening that attracted over fifty attendees and raised over $1,500 for disaster relief in Palu, Indonesia, where a devastating tsunami killed-over two thousand people in late September.
"I've been very blessed to be given the opportunity to spend my exchange year in Seward, Alaska," Batubara said in a presentation at the banquet, held in the basement of Resurrection Lutheran Church.  "I've enjoyed every moment so far - and I'm enjoying it now.  I've done things I would never have been able to do in Indonesia, I went hiking, I saw wild bear, wild moose.  I saw my first snow."
The funds raised at the banquet will go toward basic necessities and shelter for those affected by the September tsunami, Batubara said.  The $2,000 collected in ticket sales and post-banquet donations will buy two ShelterBoxes, prepackaged collections of relief good prepared and distributed by the United Kingdom-based charity of the same name.  The box includes a tent, cooking supplies, a tool kit and other essentials.
ShelterBox has sent over a hundred thousand such boxes to disaster zones worldwide since its inception in 2000, according to a video produced by the organization.
Batubara chose ShelterBox as the beneficiary of her fundraising because the organization has an existing arrangement with Rotary International.  She was also inspired by the example of another Rotary exchange student in Alaska who had put on a similar fundraiser in Homer, she said.
Indonesia is the world's largest and most populous archipelago, with well over fifteen thousand islands.  Batubara comes from the country's capital, Jakarta on the island of Java.  This tropical city has around 10 million inhabitants - an immense contrast from Seward's 2,700, Batubara said.
"Jakarta is very big," she said.  "I don't know many people (there), not like I do in Seward."
Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, is much smaller than Jakarta, but still many times larger than Seward, with over 300,000 inhabitants, The September disaster was the most deadliest in Indonesian history, after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck north of Palu and produced a 20-foot wall of water in the bay on which Palu is situated.
Batubara is currently staying with Cole and Jena Petersen, just two of the many people whom she thanked for helping her put together the banquet.  The meal included several Indonesian dishes, including a chicken stew and sweet pudding made from black rice, coconut milk and sugar.  Anthony Baclaan, owner of Hamajang, was among those who helped cook.
"I hope you enjoyed the dinner," Batubara said. "And there's still dessert coming!"
(Top Right) Jessica Batubara assists Anthony Baclaan in the preparation a black rice pudding that was served for dessert.
(Top Left) Batubara's blazer featured pins and flair from all over the world, some that she bought her and some that she received as gifts.