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11/01/06 05:00PM
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2008 FLEFF:
Festival Essay Features Sorayya Khan

A Topography of Banda Aceh: Notes from a Journey

By Sorayya Khan

Writers, especially novelists, invent the environments in which their stories unfold. We create characters and their families, we shape structures of lives, and we form the sentences thought and spoken. To us, the environment is a myriad of fluid and complex variables in which the topography of emotions, family, culture, and power is as real as the topography of nature’s oceans, deserts, and mountains.

Our narrative suggests what to incorporate and what to leave out, and we know that the more exact the story’s environment, the more likely it is that our work will ring true. Once in a while, we may emerge from the dream that is our solitary work—imagining worlds—to take a breath and consider the real world, the true setting in which we live. It was just such a break that sent me to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in May of 2007 to interview tsunami survivors and, a few weeks later, returned me to Ithaca, New York, with a sharpened, more substantial perception of what environment suggests.

[Read more].

Aceh visit planned by
Sorayya Khan, local author

May 2, 2007

Aceh visit/Saltonstall grant: Local novelist Sorayya Khan will be traveling to Aceh, Indonesia, May 3 – 18 as part of her Constance Saltonstall Foundation Artist Grant in Creative Non-Fiction. During her visit Ms. Khan will conduct interviews of tsunami survivors and conflict survivors as part of her ongoing research on the relationship between trauma, memory, and loss. “I'm interested in this relationship in my fiction, although I've previously thought about it in the context of war and not natural disasters. I see the interviews as part of a larger project as well, though, one which records the words of tsunami survivors as "history.” The creation of an oral history archive some time in the future would, in fact, be the very best monument to mark the tsunami.“

Aceh Relief Fund: Ms. Khan’s close connection with Aceh is tied to her involvement with the local not- for- profit ACEH RELIEF FUND . Founded in December 2004 by Indonesian and Malaysian scholars at Cornell University together with Ithaca community members, Aceh Relief Fund has successfully initiated and continues to fund a mobile library, a revolving micro-enterprise grant program, and the construction of a community center as well as ten homes designated for non-landowners in the village of Punge Jurong.

Sorayya’s journal: During her travels in Aceh, Ms. Khan will be posting journal entries to the Aceh Relief Fund web site, http://www.acehrelief.org/journal. Ms Khan will be traveling with Lisa Loomis, a journalist and editor of the Vermont weekly newspaper, The Valley Reporter. Ms. Loomis will write articles and take photographs for her newspaper, as well as the Aceh Relief web site, on her travels.

The Memory Project:
An Exhibit of Acehnese Childrens' Portraits

March 9, 2007


Contact: Sophie Huntington
Outreach Coordinator, Einaudi Center for International Studies
E-mail: srh43@cornell.edu

The Memory Project: Portraits of Acehnese Children

The Southeast Asia Program outreach office in partnership with Aceh Relief Fund and the Tompkins County Public library are hosting an exhibit curated by Carol Spence, Ithaca High School Art teacher. The Memory Project, designed to bring together Ithaca High School art students and Indonesian children affected by the 2004 Tsunami, consists of pastel portraits inspired by photographs of young Acehnese children orphaned by the tsunami. The portraits, along with letters from the high school artists, will be sent to the Acehnese children in the spring of 2007. The public is invited to view the portraits in the Youth Services department of the library. In addition, there will be an informal reception held on March 9th@ 4:00pm in the Library’s Thaler/Howell Room, where the public can meet the artists and learn about their experiences with this project. For more information visit the Southeast Asia Program on-line calendar at http://www.einaudi.cornell.edu/SoutheastAsia/calendar.

Date: March 1, 2007 - through - March 30, 2007
Location: Tompkins County Public Library Youth Services - Ithaca, NY 14850
Sponsor: Southeast Asia Program Outreach office, Tompkins County Public
Library, Aceh Relief Fund, Ithaca High School

Portraits of children effected by the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia will be hung in an exhibit in the Youth Services Bureau at the Tompkins County Public Library for the Month of March. The portraits were created by students in Carol Spence's Art classes at Ithaca High School and will be sent to the children in Aceh.

ARF: Thank you for your support!


We are truthfully honored that you have taken the moment to visit our new and informative website. We would like to thank donors and supporters of Aceh Relief Fund who work together with us to provide better future to the Acehnese that has been suffered from the massive tsunami struck on December 26, 2004. [Read more]

Microfinance Update: The Story of The Trishaw Men

To date, ARF’s micro financing program has been utilized by 64 people in Punge Jurong V and beyond. With this no-interest easy credit facility, tsunami survivors have started or re-started small businesses with between US $150 and $1,500 seed money. So far, there are only three (4.76%) borrowers who have fallen behind in their repayment installments.

The businesses utilizing the financing range in scope from vegetable sellers, roadside food vendors, small convection to fabric sellers. There are also home-based bakers, teachers, and four trishaw men, two of whom are briefly chronicled here. [Read more]

People to People: Rick Wake visits Aceh

ARF volunteer Rick Wake (left) spent three weeks in Aceh devoting his energy and time to help our work in rebuilding communities.

Excerpt from his journal: "Most of the kids drew mountains, the ocean and trees--the most obvious environment around them. One child drew red cross tents, similar to what they were in at the moment. Others drew the Tsunami. I then asked them to draw something that makes them happy, or if they like, a picture of happiness. This resulted in a wide range of drawings, from Sponge-Bob Square-Pants and other cartoon characters, to flowers, family, and smiling faces). For the last exercise, I asked them to draw their name huge on the paper and decorate the text with things that they like and if they want, they could draw what they want for the future. I presented the exercises with different levels of conceptual challenge, since the class consisted of the entire school with kids ranging from first to fifth grade. Had I taught the entire school before the Tsunami, I would have been teaching over 300 children, but 60 were all that remained. Many were lost, and yet more moved away when their homes and family were gone." [Read more: www.rickwake.com]

Remembering December 26th

On December 26, 2004 a tsunami claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, many of those in Aceh, Indonesia. The damage in Aceh was particularly devastating where nearly a quarter of its four million people population was affected. Aceh Relief Fund (ARF) grew out of a humanitarian need to help alleviate the subsequent suffering of the Acehnese people. To commemorate the tragedy, ARF is presenting pictures taken by our team members that have never been published before. [Read more].

Other story: The Ithaca Journal article [December 26, 2005]

People of New Orleans Channels Tsunami Fund

It is the fruit of networking. Realizing that small initiatives need to be strategic and focused, ARF utilizes a vast network in and outside Aceh to fundraise and deliver its programs.

On the other corner of the world, well, at least the other corner of the US, Asian Pacific American Society (APAS) of New Orleans, with the help of United Way and other agencies have raised over $440,000 tsunami donation in New Orleans greater area by April 2005. APAS is a unique and strong community organization. It is a real melting pot of communities from Asia and the Pacific regions--some already naturalized, some others are students or professionals with temporary residency status—in a famous city of New Orleans, Louisiana. [Read more]

Current Activities

Community Center Development

Despite its proximity to the center of Banda Aceh, Punge Jurong V is no different from other villages with regards to the state of reconstruction post-tsunami. Half of the surviving 400 villagers are still living in barracks seven miles away from the village and the other half are living under tents or in the remains of their destroyed houses. The first new structure being built in Punge Jurong is a community center, thanks to the effort by ARF. [Read more]

Micro Finance

ARF currently support 23 small business operated by victims of the tsunami in Banda Aceh. The Easy Credit Facility is available to adult tsunami victims in Banda Aceh. Priorities are given to victims with experience in operating small businesses prior to the tsunami. [Read More]

Mobile Library

ARF operates mobile library (also know as mobile learning center) to serve children both in villages and in camps, shelters, and barracks. Due to shortage of fund, the service is curried out by volunteers using motorcycles/scooters. Thanks for the recently acquired fund from APAS, ARF is in the process of purchasing a van which will be remodeled into a mobile library. [Read More]