AMURTEL, our women's wing, internationally was formed in 1975 to respond specifically to the problems faced by women and children in their struggle to develop. AMURTEL is managed by women and initiates programs that raise the standard of health and education of women and their children. The programs also permit women to gain greater self-determination and economic independence.
Children in the Better World program practice long exercise routines

Better World Program, Padang 2009-2011

AMURT & AMURTEL sent an emergency response team to Padang, Indonesia immediately after the earthquake in West Sumatra on 30 September 2009.  After the initial emergency response period,  AMURTEL identified a need for Early Childhood Development (ECD). Those children most vulnerable after a disaster of this magnitude need the structure, safety, and  support  an Early Childhood Program (ECD) can provide. The Indonesian government was unable to include this important sector in its reconstruction budget and plans, so Amurtel chose this as our long term focus.

Our project objectives are:

  • To provide conditions for the optimal development of preschool/kindergarten-age children physically, mentally and socially;
  • To help upgrade and promote the spread of ECD Centres in West Sumatra by working with Education Department and Association of Preschools (HIMPAUDI) officials;
  • To lay the foundation for a better world by nurturing happy and healthy children and offering them a better quality of life, through the  ECD Centres.

Read more about our Padang programs

Bengkulu 2007: earthquake relief & trauma relief education program

Following a series of strong earthquakes in the Bengkulu region of South Sumatera, Indonesia, AMURTEL send an assessment team to the region in September 2007. Unlike in Aceh in the aftermath of the Dec 2004 earthquake and tsunami, no foreign NGOs and only a few local NGOs were there to help the victims of the disaster.

The AMURTEL team decided to concentrate on Desa Lubuk Lesung where 28 houses had been damaged because there were many poor people there who needed help. The villagers had already received food relief, so they decided to focus on building materials help. Giving priority to the most vulnerable, the team provided building materials to several poor, elderly widows whose houses had been damaged and gave gifts of clothing items to other poor elderly widows in the village.

Games and fun lighten the program
for the benefit of the teachers and their students.
Alternate training and practice days allowed
the 23 trainee teachers to practice what they have learnt.

With rumours that Bengkulu would be hit by more large earthquakes in the future, the villagers remained traumatized and were having a hard time to get back to normal life. In discussions with the Education Department of the Lais Sub-district, the AMURTEL team embarked on a trauma relief project through an English Language Teacher Training program. The main points of this project are:

1) Training to be given to 23 teachers (from the subdistrict's 20 primary schools and 3 kindergartens) to teach English in a fun way that will at the same time help the children get over their trauma;

2) 4-week program (Oct 22 - Nov 17, 2007) The participating teachers will spend 12 days attending the training program and 12 sessions of practical training when they apply what they have just learnt in their individual schools.

With funding from POHD Malaysia (Penang Office for Humanitarian Development, Malaysia), the program was conducted with great success to the benefit of the 23 participating teachers, 1,800 schoolchildren and 231 teachers in 20 primary schools and 3 kindergartens in the Lais Subdistrict of Bengkulu District, South Sumatera.

Tsunami relief and re-construction in Aceh 2005-2006

In the immediate aftermath of one the world's largest humanitarian disasters, AMURT focused on providing emergency supplies to the survivors. AMURTEL, provided counseling to those who had lost beloved family members, their homes, their livelihoods, everything.

About 175,000 hectares of land had been devastated and an estimated 500,000 persons were homeless. Many of the traumatized survivors had their little children snatched from their grasp by the merciless tsunami wave. With the cries of their loved ones still ringing in their ears, they had searched amongst the multitude of mangled bodies for missing relatives. All were, and still are, suffering varying degrees of trauma.

Old family photograph of Ibu Dian and her husband
with all her 4 children who perished in the tsunami.
Ibu Ida Yulianti with her 2 surviving children.
She lost her 9-year-old daughter and
66 other relatives to the tsunami

One of the immediate needs was to provide the internally displaces people (IDPs) with work as a means of earning an income. At the same time, the work activity could act as a form of psychological rehabilitation in overcoming the trauma.

In AMRUTEL’s Sewing Program, participants earned some cash income plus a sewing machine each by sewing school uniforms which were then given free of charge to needy Acehnese schoolchildren. This program was implemented in 6 barracks and covered 130 participants who earned a sewing machine each. Altogether, they sewed almost 4,000 sets of school uniforms which were distributed to some of the poorest schools in the district.

Sewing livelihood project

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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.

Nearly all the participants said that besides the much welcome cash income and tools of the trade that they earned, what was just as important was that the positive psychological impact of meaningful work activity and especially the camaraderie of belonging to a work collective, albeit a loose one. Prior to the sewing program there was much bickering amongst the IDPs as each tried to grab as much goodies from the NGOs as possible. Following participation in the sewing program however, they started to work together not only in sewing, but also in other ways. They cooked together and shared recipes, they shared child-minding chores, they shared tears and laughter.

Following the completion of this program, the participants asked AMURTEL to provide them with training in sewing skills. Although they could use a sewing machine, most of the participants had sewn only for their own selves and family members before the tsunami. AMURTEL then conducted Basic Sewing courses and has produced 104 graduates who have been trained in basic sewing skills.

Master trainer Pak Roni gives a lecture
on basic sewing techniques.
The finished school uniforms are
distributed to needy students

The response to this training has generally been overwhelmingly positive. Many of the trainees are from the less privileged class of society and this was the first time that these ladies have had the opportunity to receive professional training. They are extremely grateful for this chance and many responded with enthusiasm, high motivation and serious diligence in spite of the long hours of the course. Many said that the course has given them greater self-confidence and self-pride.

AMURTEL has applied for funding to conduct Advanced Sewing courses so that our trainees are taught all the skills they require to work as professional tailors. Graduates from the Advanced Sewing Course will be given a small start-up grant to help them set up shop in groups or as individuals. Those who do well will be helped to obtain microcredit in order to expand their tailoring enterprises.

Cakes and  dance program

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 repay a portion of the start-up capital in five monthly installments of cakes which AMURTEL distributes free to orphans, the disabled and the elderly.

AMURTEL started up a traditional dance program teaching Tsunami child victims. the generations-old choreography are taught by professional instructors. The program not only install pride in the local culture but is also a refreshing tonic for the trauma the children have gone through.

Mouthwatering cakes from the AMURTEL's
cake making program
Tsunami victims perform traditional dance

Windows to the world

Before the tsunami, Aceh had been closed to outsiders (including non-Acehnese Indonesians) for several years because of  civil unrest. Not surprisingly, the economy was far from vibrant and the standard of living lagged far behind. Till today, very few Acehnese have had a chance to touch a computer.

AMURTEL’s “Window to the World” Computer and Internet Education program aims to bring basic computer skills to the children and staff at Banda Aceh Junior High School No.7. It is the first school in Aceh with a computer lab equipped with 21 computers. AMURTEL employed Banda Aceh’s best commercial computer school to provide training in basic computer and internet skills to 80 students and 35 teachers. From this group, the cream of the crop were put through further courses so that they may form a core group that will pass on basic computer skills to the rest of the school. Today, the teachers who graduated from the Training of Trainers Computer Program are conducting computer classes as part of the school curriculum and as extracurricular subjects with the graduate trainee students acting as student assistants.

Through the internet facilities provided by the program, the students as well as staff members are encouraged to access educational and other sites in the vast worldwide web so as to further enrich themselves. Since few Acehnese have the opportunity to travel, the development of the internet education program will indeed be their “window to the world.” Headmaster Drs. Amiruddin reports that the honour brought upon the school in being the beneficiary of this program has led to a significant increase in the motivation to learn amongst all students and staff.

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The Bada kindergarten constructed
Students enjoying access to the internet
at their local high school

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.

Read full Aceh documentary

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