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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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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

¬[04/19/05] [04/21/05]®

Visit to SMU 3 (High School 3)

Time really flies for me in Aceh.  My stay in Aceh is fast approaching the end. There is so much more to be done, so many  meetings to attend, so many places to visit, etc. It is decided that I will dash from one venue to another, so that I will accomplish as much as possible during the last few days in Aceh.
A case in point is a visit to Sekolah Menengah Umum 3 ( Public High School 3). The school is not affected by the tsunami, but many of its students are victims of it. The school is one of the best high schools in Aceh. We receive an invitation to visit the school from one of its teachers who earlier discovered that Saiful is an alumnus of the school. Rather than postponing the visit to a later date, we decide that it is best to have a quick visit to the school before I move on to the agenda of the day, which is conducting the second day of the workshop (see below).  Saiful and I meet with the principal of the school first and then proceed to one of the classrooms to interact with students.

Discussing the sister-school program with the school principal. Looking on are some of the heads of departments of the school.


Talking to the students about the role of ARF in facilitating the interaction between them with students in the United States.

Second day of Workshop for Volunteers
The participants are busy with proposal writing throughout the session. The aim is for each one of them to have a draft proposal upon completion of today’s exercise. I remind them that they must be able to teach their colleagues about the process of writing a grant, which can effectively deepen their understanding about their very own project. I also remind them that they are indeed lucky since grantee organizations had already promised them funding provided they submit a decent proposal.

Discussing some points with the participants.

Visit to a model home project
Due to lengthy and uncertain bureaucratic processes and endemic corruption, many international donors decide to proceed cautiously with the rebuilding of infrastructure in Aceh, and this includes building houses for the victims of the tsunami. One international organization was considered too ‘hasty’ in declaring that it had the resources and the design, and was ready to proceed with building houses for all communities destroyed by the tsunami. The organization was kicked out of Aceh last month!
What many organizations end up doing is building model homes on private land. Mercy Malaysia, for example, is building an earthquake-proof model home in the compound of Syiah Kuala University. Saiful and I briefly tour the site this evening.

Model home project under construction by Mercy Malaysia.

Visit to SMP 1 (Middle School 1)
Our last itinerary of the day is a visit to SMP 1, the school where Saiful received his middle school education. SMP 1 was completely destroyed by the tsunami, and as a result the entire school was now placed in another school. In order to accommodate this new arrangement, the school now operates in two sessions:  SMP 1 operates in the afternoon, while the other school does so in the morning. Schooling in the afternoon means the children and the teachers have to bear the heat which can make learning extremely uncomfortable. By the way, electric ceiling fans are a luxury in this school.

Meeting the school principal in his tiny-makeshift office. He is separated from his staff by a row of cupboards. The principal is Saiful’s former English teacher.


Posing with the teachers of SMP 1, many of who still remember Saiful as a student of the school.


¬[04/19/05] [04/21/05]®