April 18, 2007 - New York, N.Y. - In May of 2006 an earthquake, measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale, struck Java, Indonesia, killing over 3,000 people. In addition to the thousands of others who were injured, entire villages were destroyed subjecting survivors to further suffering. Among those who experienced such destruction were the villagers of Ngelepen. But, their plight did not go unnoticed.
Less than three months later, a meeting between Taj Hamad, Secretary-General of WANGO, and Mohamed Ali Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties resulted in both men agreeing to bring relief to the villagers of Ngelepen through an innovative plan to quickly recreate the village whose destruction had instantly left so many homeless. Soon after that July meeting, and after the completion of an extensive feasibility study, Domes for the World Foundation (DFTW), a Texas-based non-profit organization, was retained. DFTW was tasked to rebuild the village of Ngelepen by applying its expertise in the construction of environmentally friendly homes that can withstand the severe effects of natural disasters. With a generous grant of $1 million from Emaar to WANGO, WANGO then contracted DFTW and work began in October of 2006. From the outset, WANGO and DFTW acted cooperatively in determining the design, in securing all the requisite approvals, and in carrying out every facet of the construction. The project will be completed before the end of April, two months ahead of schedule.
"It was our intention to support the residents of Ngelepen, whose lives were disrupted," said Mohamed Ali Alabbar. "As a global developer, Emaar upholds a social commitment to societies bearing the brunt of disasters wherever they are based. The rebuilding of Ngelepen, as a pilot project, will serve as a model for a disaster-safe, permanent, economical, sanitary and efficient construction strategy in disaster-prone areas."
More than 370 people, comprised of both villagers and international experts, took active part in this project. The villagers were trained by DFTW, and quickly learned the unique construction methods used by DFTW to construct its Monolithic Ecoshell housing. The newly rebuilt village of Ngelepen will retain 71 homes; six communal domes offering laundry and bathroom facilities; a kindergarten school; a medical/health clinic and a mosque. To further enhance the community, additional effort was made in the building of a playground, along with roads and a drainage system.
"This was an extraordinary project," said WANGO's Hamad. "It would not have been possible without the generous support of Emaar Properties, the well-intentioned expertise of DFTW and the resilient spirit of the people of Ngelepen. By spearheading this initiative, I hope that the membership of WANGO, and indeed NGOs worldwide, will rally together to more speedily tackle problems resulting from disasters, whether natural or man-made. The international community must endeavor to give full effect to the pledge undertaken at the United Nations Millennium Summit (2000), and in particular the related "Cities Without Slums" initiative, to improve the lives of the 100 million people who live in slums and abject poverty."
The opening of a New Ngelepen will recreate a community that has prevailed over the most adverse of circumstances. Further, this project is intended to serve as a template for future efforts to timely remediate other communities suffering similar losses.