The following appeal is being sent by British expats in Indonesia to the football teams they support. I'm addressing this appeal to my fellow Charlton fans. The club has had a very joyful December. Indonesia hasn't.
A nation in mourning
Dark clouds are casting a long shadow over Indonesia's capital city Jakarta at the moment. And it's not because of the rainy season or that the national side under the management of Peter Withe lost 2-1 at home to Malaysia in the semi finals of the Tiger Cup on Tuesday night (28/12). No, it's much worse than that. Much, much worse. Players of both sides were wearing black armbands that night for a very good reason indeed.
What has swung the mood from the usual year-end festive joy to one of utter despondency for Indonesians is the growing realization that many thousands of their countryfolk have perished in the recent tsunami that has caused death and destruction in coastal communities across Asia.
Aceh, a very rugged and remote region at the northernmost tip of the huge island of Sumatra, has been battered beyond belief. Although Jakarta is completely unaffected, harrowing news footage has been broadcast into the capital city's homes. And TV broadcasters in Indonesia are not like the BBC or CNN. They do not shy away from showing the terrible consequences of a tragedy like this. One image in particular
will be etched in my mind forever: seven or eight drowned babies placed side by side in a small room, with peaceful expressions on their innocent faces, but nonetheless lost forever. And then there was the woman who had lost all her seven kids; she was left to curse the fact that she was still alive.
The death toll in Indonesia will be far higher than first expected. Initial reports suggested around 5,000 deaths; but the authorities are now looking at 30,000-40,000 plus. In one town on the western coast of Aceh, Meulaboh, a quarter of its 40,000 population have been wiped out.
Although nothing can be done to help those that have died, those still alive desperately need help. Many are starving, have no shelter and are at risk of contracting deadly diseases. The already poor communications and transport systems have to be built anew in order to reach these people.
If you are able to make a donation - however small - you would be helping to prevent people from dying.
, a weblog, has been set up to give online information to donors.