SURABAYA, Indonesia: The ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 has triggered an outpouring of grief and support for the families from across Indonesia. Some Indonesians have channeled those feelings into action, volunteering at the crisis centre in Surabaya where affected families wait.
At the crisis centre, it has become a familiar sight to see people kneading the shoulders of a weary policeman, journalist or family member, and asking for nothing in return. These are blind masseuses and masseurs from the Indonesia Union for the Blind, who contribute their stress-relieving skills at the centre for several hours a day.
"We want to help the people here, especially those waiting for the bodies of their loved ones to be identified; help them to relieve the stress of waiting," said Mr Andi Pertuni, a blind masseur. "Maybe we can help. We can massage away the tension from their muscles."
Joining them are volunteers from the Red Cross Society, who have also given their time to help their grieving countrymen.
"As social creatures, we have to help our fellow man," said Mr Ad Purnawan, a volunteer with the Red Cross Society in Indonesia. "Yesterday for example, when families knew they've lost someone, they cry or need help, psychological support."
This is also a calling that the Buddha Tzu Chi Foundation shares. Their volunteers have spread out across the crisis centre to hand out anything useful, from food to psychological support.
"Firstly, we're here for the families. Aside from them, the media, DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) unit are also working here," said Tan Junita, a volunteer with Buddha Tzu Chi Foundation. "So we're also helping them since they're all working hard, to help keep their spirits up."
At Pangkalan Bun, where search operations are being conducted out of, local businessman Faiz has also stepped up, offering free laundry for search personnel, media and support staff.