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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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Saturday, April 16, 2005

¨[04/15/05] [04/17/05]ģ

Visiting Saifulís family

We spend the whole day today visiting several places in Aceh. Our first stop is at the house of Saifulís mom. Saifulís mom is staying with three other families (Saifulís sister and her family, Saifulís aunt and her family daughter to the tsunami, and Saifulís uncle) in a house belonging to Saifulís in-laws. They have all lost loved ones and houses to the tsunami. Saifulís mom is yet to visit her destroyed village as she was overcome with emotion when Saiful first attempted to take her there. Now, she is contemplating going back, but is not quite sure about the best time to do so.

Saifulís mom (left) swings her grandchild to sleep. Saifulís aunt and her husband are also there to welcome us.

Visit to IPDs Barrack

We finally have a chance to visit a barrack - the housing scheme built by the Indonesian government used to temporarily place IDPs relocated from camps and shelters. We visit the barrack occupied by people from Saifulís village. The conditions at the barrack are appalling: each tiny room-less unit (4 x 6 sq meters) is meant to fit six individuals, the walls separating each unit do not reach the ceiling, the community toilets are not functioning, and the water supply has long drained out. The living arrangement is supposed to meet international standards, but what I see is simply inhuman and outrageously disrespectful to the Acehnese culture.

All of the people shown in this photo have only themselves; they have lost their spouses and children to the tsunami. The living arrangements at the barrack further aggravate their suffering.


The wall separating each unit in the barracks stops short of reaching the ceiling. One can easily climb from one unit into another.


This lady is the most jovial of the IDPs in the barrack. She jokingly said to us that all of them are now Ďsingle and availableí again. Amidst the laughter, she suddenly stopped and in the next moment is seen looking far ahead to the horizon with tears in her eyes. She lost her husband and all of her children to the tsunami.


Visit to Baiturrahman Children Learning Center

The Baiturahman Children Learning Center (BCLC) offers after-school programs for children in Banda Aceh. The center used to register more than 1000 students before the tsunami. Now there are only 200 children in attendance. The administrator of the center has no exact figure as to how many of the children perished in the disaster. The Principal of the center and his family remain unaccounted for until today.

I sat at the back of a class observing the children attending to their lesson.


At the end of the class, the children say thank you to their teachers by shaking the teacherís hand and bringing it to touch their foreheads. The lady teacher seen in this photo (in yellow dress) lost her only child (a baby) to the tsunami. The tsunami pulled her baby away from her grip as she was escaping from it.

Visit to the Aceh Market

Aceh Market is situated next to the Baiturrahman Mosque (Masjid Raya BaiturRahman). The market used to be the major thoroughfare for traders to trade their wares which ranged from salted fish, clothes, jewelry, etc. Most of the villagers from Saifulís village conducted their trade here before the tsunami. I am dismayed to discover that after nearly four months, nothing has been done to clean the place. Rumours have been flying around that a big conglomerate plans to set up business on the site, a highly strategic location in Banda Aceh. By not cleaning the market, the authorities effectively prohibit the surviving small traders from returning in favour of the conglomerate.

The famous Aceh Market is slowly dying.

Visit to an orphanage in Banda Aceh

As a closure to todayís activity, we decide to return to an orphanage to visit the orphans I met when I first arrived. A teacher/caretaker takes us around to visit various facilities at the center. The orphanage is funded by a foundation set up by the previous Indonesian president. I can see that the children look like they are happy with their new living arrangements.

Some of the orphans playing in their dormitory.


¨[04/15/05] [04/17/05]ģ