By ACHMAD IBRAHIM Associated PressJuly 24, 2021, 3:42 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBOGOR, Indonesia — Wearing hazmat suits and masks, gravediggers at the Cipenjo Cemetery in Bogor on the outskirts of Jakarta say they’ve lost track of how many graves they dug. Despite working late into the night, the bodies of COVID-19 victims keep coming in hearses.For the past two weeks, they’ve put into earth more than 10 bodies a day, up from two previously — a sign of a devastating surge ripping through the Southeast Asian nation, which is now Asia’s hot spot with over 80,000 COVID-19 fatalities and more than 3 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.So they turned to volunteers to help them out.“The relatives of the dead asked the community leaders for help to find gravediggers. Because it will be riskier if they wait for a long time at the cemetery,” said Jaya Abidin, who answered the call with some of his neighbors.They recently helped bury four residents from their neighborhood, who all died within a week.Government figures show more than 1,000 people died each day for the past week, including a record 1,565 on Friday. The pace of vaccination remains slow, with only 6.3% fully vaccinated.The volunteers use their own hoes and shovels brought from home. Other graveyards often use heavy machinery to meet the needs.“It would be better, as the number of people who died keeps increasing, if the government can pay attention by lending digging equipment,” Abidin said.Sometimes, he said, even with the gravediggers and volunteers working together, the line of bodies can stretch into the night.
By ACHMAD IBRAHIM Associated PressJuly 14, 2021, 5:46 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBEKASI, Indonesia — The motorcycle riders weave through the jammed vehicles, honking their horns as they flank ambulances trying to find their way through the traffic-choked streets of Indonesia’s capital region.The two-wheeled volunteers provide a key service in the sprawling metropolis, one in more need than ever as ambulances struggle to serve all those in need because of a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.The volunteers usually get a call from ambulance drivers asking them to stand by in case an escort is needed. If it is, up to four riders will head out to guide the ambulance through the congested roads and other obstacles of the Jakarta area.“Not everyone on the road can accept it. Sometimes they get mad. Sometimes they just let us pass. But mostly the main problem is the traffic. So we have to open the ambulance path so the patients can survive,” said volunteer Rofiq Nur Amrullah.For Amrullah, who has been serving as a motorcycle escort since 2018, volunteering was spurred by personal tragedy. Years ago, Amrullah’s aunt died in an ambulance stuck in a traffic jam while on the way to a hospital, even though she lived close by.“There were not many bikers for the ambulance escort service that time,” Amrullah said.The escorts are busier than ever because of the deadly virus surge that has pushed many hospitals over capacity and caused shortages of oxygen.And because of the surge, many volunteers are finding they’re also being asked to escort hearses making their way to graveyards.“I escorted not only the patients to the hospital but also the dead body to the burial place,” said Hendi, a volunteer who only uses one name. “Wherever the destination, I will open the access.”