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02/11/05 12:00AM
Total Collected:
US$ 69,122.10

Journal from the Ground
by Mazalan Kamis

April 2005

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

[04/11/05] [04/13/05]

Proposal Writing Workshop

I am all excited seeing faces of the young bright Acehnese attending the workshop. They hail from various parts of Aceh. The workshop is organized by Aceh Civil Society Institute (ACSI) and supported by Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH-Legal Aid Society) and PBLC. It is held in one of the classrooms at PBLC. The workshop starts at 8:30 and has to end at 3pm, because the classroom is used by PBLC students in the evening. Due to overwhelming requests from many local Acehnese volunteer groups, another workshop has been scheduled for next week.

Posing under the ARF banner with the participants of the workshop. The computers and other IT equipment were provided by LBH.

Eight organizations send participants to the workshop. They include:
People Crisis Center (PCC), Aceh Civil Society Task Force (ACSTF), Aceh Cinema Society (ACS), Meulaboh Crisis Center (MCC), Center for Humanitarian and Social Empowerment (CHSE), Children Media Center (CMC), Phi-Beta Learning Center (PBLC), Mahasiswa Rakyat (MR), Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) and Sahabat Insani (SI).

The workshop in progress.

I am amazed by how well the participants can articulate their role in reconstructing Aceh. The participants refine their proposal on the spot as we discuss the specifics of a grant-writing proposal. The air in the room is hot and stifling, but none of the attendees ever complain about it.

Presenting donated supplies to ARF representative.

After the workshop is over, I meet again with PBLC staff. I present them with the donated school supplies that I brought along from Ithaca. In the picture above, standing in the middle is Pak Din, the acting head of PBLC. Pak Din, who hails from Calang, the worst hit area by the tsunami, lost his father and his brother to the tsunami.

Back in Punge Jurong V

Later in the evening, I am told that we have successfully purchased a generator set for Punge Jurong V village. Shortly thereafter, Pak Abu, the village head, calls us to inquire about his request. As it is almost 6:00 pm we decide to head on to the village to present the generator, so that at least it can be used immediately tonight. Upon arrival, I am surprised to find the presence of more villagers and more new tents being set up as compared to the previous day. Apparently, Pak Abu manages to ask the villagers to assemble together to receive the much anticipated gift from ARF the generator set!

Pak Abu receiving the generator set donated by ARF.

It is difficult to describe the happiness shown by the villagers upon receiving the generator set. There is an immediate sense of festivities when some of the villagers start to climb to the second floor of the mosque and set the generator to work. The tsunami did not reach the ceiling of the mosque and the hope is that some of the lights and the wiring might still work.

Finally, when they manage to put the generator to work, everyone jumps with joy and claps their hands. They start calling others to look at the lights, and the mosque suddenly fills with more people. The mosque is the nerve center for a village in Aceh. If a mosque can function again then surely a community will soon reemerge around it.

I shed tears of joy upon witnessing how a small gift from ARF can bring immense happiness to the villagers. This is what happens when we are able give people what they REALLY ask for.

Lights back ON!

The picture above shows some of the lights on the second floor of the mosque that are now lit, thanks to the donated generator set from ARF. The water level mark on the wall provides a tell tale sign that the sea water reached the second floor of the mosque during the tsunami.

Inside the battered mosque.

Before leaving, Pak Abu gives me a tour of the mosque. As can be seen in the picture above, Pak Abu is showing me items belonging to the villagers that have been brought back from the shelter where they were sent after the tsunami. Many of the items, like stoves and cooking pots, were donated by ARF to the community.

[04/11/05] [04/13/05]