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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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Sunday, April 17, 2005

¬[04/16/05] [04/18/05]®

Seminar on the Role of Education in Reconstructing Aceh

I spend the entire morning at a seminar jointly organized by the Reading Society Foundation of Aceh (Yayasan Masyarakat Iqra) and Phi-Beta Learning Center (PBLC). The seminar which is sponsored by Aceh Relief Fund (ARF) is held at Syiah Kuala University. The organizer had to turn away more than 200 applicants, as the rented hall can accommodate only 350 persons. However, the organizer registered nearly 420 participants since many rejected applicants also show up and in the end are allowed to join the seminar. The participants are made up of university students, teachers, representatives from NGOs and concerned individuals. Both Saiful and I are among the invited speakers in the seminar.

Again, I continue to be amazed at the enthusiasm showed by the Acehnese in wanting to share their thoughts and concerns about education and reconstruction in Aceh. The seminar is held on a Sunday, the air-conditioner is not working, and the room has to accommodate more than it can fit…and yet, not a single complaint can be heard from the participants! The seminar which starts promptly at 8:30am and is supposed to end at 12:30pm has to be extended and ends only at 2:00pm at the request of the participants.

The room is filled to the brink with participants who show great enthusiasm for every topic being presented at the Seminar


The audience is entertained by a local acappella group, SKALA, during break time. The group consists of Acehnese university students who are also affected by the tsunami. One member of the group remains missing.


Delivering my presentation at the Seminar.


Posing with the committee members who have been working round the clock to prepare for the Seminar.

Attending the meeting of Acehnese working with international agencies

After the Seminar, Saiful and I head to another venue for a meeting with a group of Acehnese working with international agencies in Aceh. Saiful calls for the meeting as he feels the need to pull together the experiences of these Achenese to further benefit Aceh. I must say that I am extremely impressed with Saiful who has to put on so many different ‘hats’ here in Aceh.

Young, bright, English-speaking Acehnese who work with international agencies are coming together to share their experiences.


Saiful is seen here chairing the meeting.

Punge Jurong V at night

Just after dinner, we decide to visit Punge Jurong V village again since we are told that the bricks that we ordered have arrived. We were supposed to be there in the evening, but our heavy schedule did not permit us to do so. Furthermore, a night visit will also help us to gain better and fuller perspective about how the IDPs lead their lives. I am happy to note the generator set donated by ARF has truly given a sense of life in the midst of the flattened village.

Donating more cash to the villagers. Behind us are the bricks donated by ARF for the reconstruction of the village’s mosque.


The village’s mosque and its surroundings are now well lit thanks to the donated generator set by ARF.


¬[04/16/05] [04/18/05]®