Aceh 2005-2007

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AMURT volunteers distribute food parcels to long lines of hungry residents in Banda Aceh immediately after the disaster occurred.
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AMURTEL has provided sewing machines to 130 women tailors in the resettlement camps. Each woman owns her sewing machine once she has completed twenty school uniforms.
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In Meulaboh, AMURT and Sun Spirit are helping 240 farmers introduce organic farming techniques to their farms. The results so far have been very encouraging.
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Bada Kindergarten is one of six schools that AMURT and AMURTEL rehabilitated in Aceh. Spontaneous songs and poems were the highlight of the inauguration of the new school building.
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AMURT & AMURTEL created the ‘Windows to the world’ program to provide Acehnese high school students access to computers and the internet.
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The Jantho complex with its ten buildings will accommodate 100 handicapped children
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Most low lying islands had to be cleared of mud and debris before agriculture could resume.
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Farmers on outlying island were benefitted by an agricultural start up program.
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Projects completed in Aceh 2005-7 at a glance

  • More than 15,000 parcels of food, water and medicines distributed
  • 2500 family resettlement kits distributed
  • 42 small brick factories re-constructed or repaired
  • Two orphanages constructed
  • Two new kindergartens constructed
  • Two kindergartens, two primary schools and one orphanage repaired
  • 36 new houses constructed
  • Recreational kits benefiting more than 3,000 children distributed
  • 945 benefited from eye camps
  • 334 marginalized farmers benefitted from agricultural start-up project
  • Sewing machines distributed for livelihood recovery for 130 women
  • Computers and internet access provided for 900 high school students
  • Counseling, child care and English classes provided in several camps for
    displaced people
Emergency relief
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, AMURT and AMURTEL focused on providing emergency supplies to the survivors. We distributed more than US$300,000 worth of food and non-food, medical and recreational items in the first three months to thousands of tsunami survivors in different parts of Aceh.

AMURTEL, our women's wing, made regular visits to interact with the children in the camps for the internally displaced people. Our informal English classes were very popular and we were struck by how keen these young children were to learn a new language and to improve their lives. AMURTEL volunteers provided counseling to those who had lost beloved family members, their homes, their livelihoods, everything! This was not easy and some of us were unable to hold back our tears as we cried together with those we were counseling.
Rehabilitation
From this activity, we started to discover the needs of the survivors on the long road to rehabilitate and reconstruct their lives. Education was one priority. AMURT and AMURTEL raised funds to repair, renovate and construct six schools. In addition 36 house were constructed for families that had lost their house in the tsunami.
From April 2005, AMURT worked with survivors to rebuild the local economy, starting with the rehabilitation of the brick factories in Neuheun. We are delighted that the forty-two brick kilns now operate again, and make a substantial contribution to the overall rebuilding effort in Banda Aceh. Their businesses is thriving!

AMURTEL supported livelihood programs for women. Our sewing program has provided 130 tailors (who lost their equipment in the tsunami) with the opportunity to earn their own sewing machines, as well as cash income, by sewing school uniforms for local schools. The women have sewn uniforms for 3,920 schoolchildren of all ages, from kindergarten to senior high school.

AMURTEL’s cake-making program has provided cake-making equipment and ingredients to 40 women from two resettlement barracks. The program started just in time to catch the peak Ramadan demand for cakes with which to break fast. After selling their cakes for a profit, the women repaid a portion of the start-up capital in five monthly installments of cakes which AMURTEL distributes free to orphans, the disabled and the elderly.

In Meulaboh, AMURT worked with Sun Spirit, a Jakarta-based NGO, on the first organic farming project in Aceh. The 240 farmers have learnt techniques such as mulching, composting, and the production of fertilizer, pesticide and insecticide. They consume most of the crops (such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, beans, tomato) themselves but hope to sell the produce in the future. One of the project staff is so inspired by the project that he plans to name his first son “Organic!”

Development
Since January 2006 AMURT has accomplished some large and much needed developmental projects. The focus is on  education, and in particularly orphans, building schools and hostels.
A computer literacy program for high school students is another program where we invest in the Acehnese potential beyond aid.
AMURT’s largest construction project as the Handicapped Primary School Complex at Jantho with a budget of about USD700,000. Designed to be a model school for children with disabilities, the complex consists of 2 classroom blocks, a dormitory cluster, dining hall, multi-purpose cum concert hall, administrative block, library, workshop, mausolah (small prayer hall) and teachers’ housing quarters. The entire complex is linked by corridors with ramps and bathrooms that are wheelchair friendly. Even the mausolah is provided with two ramps (one for males and one females) so that no wheelchair-bound child will be left out. All in, AMURT and AMURTEL has  implemented the rehabilitation and construction of 9 schools and 2 orphanages with total project value of around USD1,000,000. Funding for these projects came from big and small international NGOs, as well as from other AMURT/AMURTEL chapters around the world.
Agricultural start-up program.
Most low lying islands on the west coast of northern Sumatra took the brunt of the Tsunami. On some islands the death rate topped 20% of the population. To make matters worse, much of the agricultural land had been completely devastated by salt water, mud and debris. With daunting logistics and little local infrastructure the farmers of these island had become a marginal population that had gotten little attention by the NGO community.

AMURT decided to initiate an agricultural project in Pulau Nasi and Pulau Breueh because these two islands had received very little aid. Two years after the Dec 2004 earthquake and tsunami, most of the residents of these two islands that lay 15km and 20km off the northern tip of Bandar Aceh, were still living in tents. Their tsunami-devastated fields had not been rehabilitated and the villagers had no means of making a living.

The program entailed several phases of community outreach and education, soil recovery, equipment and seed support as well as monitoring and consultancy.  The crops grown included banana, green bean, corn, watermelon, cucumber, peanut, ginger, soybean, chilli and paddy. Experts from the Aceh Agriculture Department were brought in to teach the farmers the latest ploughing and planting techniques, while specialists from Indonesian NGO Sunspirit taught the farmers how to make organic compost, insecticides and pesticides as well as general organic farming techniques. In all 334 farmers were benefitted from the program. Later an irrigation program was added.

As a result of the resounding success of AMURT’s agricultural project, the families involved are now able to make a comfortable living from their fields, with self-confidence and pride restored. The economic activity generated have also led to the 100% return to these two islands of their displaced residents who had been relocated on the Aceh mainland in the wake of the tsunami.

Community
Many tsunami survivors have expressed deep gratitude for the services we have provided them. They never imagined that their grief would be eased by strangers from different lands. On one occasion two Europeans saw AMURT taking children from a resettlement camp on a trip to the sea beach for the fist time since the tsunami. They were impressed with the rapport and familiarity we had developed with our little “friends”. This has become the identity of the volunteers and workers of  AMURT and AMURTEL in this operation: an adaptable multi-national organization undertaking diverse programs through people-to-people connections. We give a special thanks to our Acehnese staff who have became part of our extended family.

 

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