St Albans man risks life to help Indonesian earthquake victims

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 March 2019

Khaled Hassan from St Albans delivered food and hygiene items to displaced people living in camps in Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Picture: Khaled Hassan

Khaled Hassan from St Albans delivered food and hygiene items to displaced people living in camps in Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Picture: Khaled Hassan

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A St Albans man risked his life helping victims of natural disasters in Indonesia after collecting donations from the Muslim community.

Khaled Hassan from St Albans delivered food and hygiene items to displaced people living in camps in Sigi, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Picture: Khaled HassanKhaled Hassan from St Albans delivered food and hygiene items to displaced people living in camps in Sigi, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Picture: Khaled Hassan

Khaled Hassan, 33, from Marshalswick, left St Albans in November 2017 to pursue his dream of living the ‘simple life’ in an Indonesian orphanage and boarding school.

During his first year in Indonesia, a series of earthquakes in Palu, Sulawesi created a tsunami and landslides, killing thousands of people and leaving many more displaced. Three months later Anak Krakatau volcano erupted, which caused more landslides and tsunami waves and killed hundreds of people on the islands of Sumatra and Java.

Khaled, who attended Sandringham School and the University of Hertfordshire, responded to the crisis by volunteering in disaster zones and delivering tents, food, bedding and medicine to survivors.

He collected donations from St Albans Mosque and the British Muslim community to help assist the victims, amounting to almost £20,000.

Khaled said: “My motivation to do voluntary work in St Albans and abroad began when I became a practising Muslim 12 years ago.

“It was when I read an English translation of the Quran that I noticed two repetitive messages, which were to worship one God only and to fill your life with good deeds.

“The scale of devastation from the tsunami and earthquakes in Palu was colossal - death and destruction was all around me.”

Khaled was in Palu when the government sprayed disinfectant from helicopters to stop disease spreading from the decaying bodies buried beneath the rubble, and was present when divers recovered dead bodies from a sunken coastal village.

He said: “Although it was scary to experience frequent aftershocks, one of the most challenging experiences for me was accessing the tsunami-affected areas in south Sumatra and west Java.

“I was there when geological experts were warning of another tsunami. The survivors were very traumatised and were refusing to come down from the surrounding hills out of sheer fear.

“I felt on edge with every eruption I heard, frequently glancing at the sea in anticipation of another tsunami.”

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