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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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Thursday, April 14, 2005

¬[04/13/05] [04/15/05]®

Meeting at SMA 1

A meeting has been arranged for me and Saiful to visit Sekolah Menengah Atas 1 (SMA 1), a public high school in Banda Aceh, in the morning. The purpose of our visit is to make the necessary connection with the school community for a possible sister-school linkage with a school in the US. The school lost 230 students and 23 teachers to the tsunami. The school now has more than one hundred orphans, with a third of them having lost both parents.

As it is customary (though not necessary) to bring a gift, I inquire from Pak Din who is also a teacher in the school, about what is most urgently needed by the school. The Principal requests a megaphone to be used in the school’s daily morning assembly. The authorities are yet to inspect the electrical wiring in the tsunami hit school, so the school is functioning without electricity.

The principal of SMA 1 Banda Aceh (middle) is happy to receive a megaphone from ARF. Looking on is Pak Din (left).

I request a tour of the school from the principal. He asks Pak Din to accompany me. In one classroom, a teacher invites me in and requests me to say a few words to the students. The class is equivalent to a junior class level in the US. The students are all eager to hear about how they can get connected with school children in the US. I also tell them that many schools in the US have been very active in helping to collect donations for tsunami victims. I ask them to write letters or messages that I will bring back to the US to share with school children. Before I leave the class, the teacher asks me whether I want to talk to one tsunami survivor in the class who has been badly traumatized. He privately points out a tense looking girl sitting at the back row of the class. Upon learning how she survived (she found herself on top of a coconut tree), I decide not to proceed with meeting her.

These high school children are eager to be connected with concerned high school students in the US.


Looking out from a window of the school library. Most of the houses around the school are gone, and those that remain standing are no longer habitable. Two schools next to SMA 1 were completely destroyed.

In the evening, I accompany Saiful to attend a meeting between leaders of civil society movement and three prominent community leaders. The meeting is to discuss the recent blue-print for Aceh’s recovery produced by the Indonesian government. I feel fortunate to meet with the “who’s who” of Aceh.

Late evening I go with Saiful to meet his mom, his auntie, and his sister and her family. They are staying in a village not very far from Banda Aceh, but since the road leading to the village is in bad shape, the journey seems very long.

At night, an amateur Australian documentary film producer who came to film the workshop at PBLC yesterday calls me and requests an interview. He arrives at around 9 30 pm and we quickly get to the interview.

Another long but fulfilling day for me.

¬[04/13/05] [04/15/05]®