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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 19, 2005

¬[04/18/05] [04/20/05]®

Second Workshop with Local NGOs

My patience is really being tested here in Aceh, thanks to the continuous disruptions of basic supplies especially water and electricity. I am told that, thanks to the sudden influx of foreigners into Aceh, the situation now is actually much better than before the tsunami! Due to the incompetence of the state companies operating the water and electricity supply, and coupled with endemic corruption, the situation is actually much more complex than what it seems. In short, the ‘haves’ can ‘pay’ to get better supply of both necessities which effectively ‘steal’ the supplies allocated to the ‘have-nots’.

The problem with electricity emerges again at the venue where the Second Workshop is supposed to be held. Instead of conducting the workshop at Phi Beta Learning Center (PBLC), the venue for the First Workshop, the organizer (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum, LBH), a local NGO, decide to utilize their own building. Unfortunately, the place has limited capacity to operate electric and electronic equipments for the workshop. In the end, after waiting nearly two hours for the problem to get fixed, we abandon the venue when we learn that Saiful manages to find an alternative site at the Syiah Kuala University.

The organizer rents ‘labi-labi’, a popular ‘bus’ service in Banda Aceh, to transport me and the participants to the new site. Amazingly, I do not hear any grumbling comments from the participants! They take everything that comes in stride. I also learn that the Achenese have stopped complaining, especially after the military march into Aceh about twenty years ago


Inside the ‘labi-labi’, on our way to the new venue.


The room is well equipped, and the air-conditioning is working!

The Workshop is well attended with participants who come from many parts of Aceh. The enthusiasm shown by the participants is just as high as those in the First Workshop. Many of the them are also victims of the tsunami.

Attending Concert Show

After a long day at the workshop, Saiful rewards me by taking me to a concert show by a popular Acehnese artist, Rafly. The show is organized by Aceh Kita and Rumoh Kita, two Acehnese-led Jakarta-based non-profit organizations. The concert is held in a village partially affected by the tsunami. Watching Rafly and his musical entourage giving the concert is simply electrifying! His songs revolve around issues that are dear to many Acehnese: i.e. the strong Islamic tradition and the struggle for freedom. I hear that there is a chance Rafly will be touring the United States in the not-so-distant future.


The show is opened by prayers, reading of the Qur’an, and a ‘welcome’ dance by an Acehnese dance troupe.


Rafly performs under makeshift stage amidst the rubble in a village partially affected by tsunami.


¬[04/18/05] [04/20/05]®