Indonesia: Building a Future
by Martyn Smith
The region of Aceh, in northern Indonesia, was one of the areas hit hardest by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Thousands of people lost their lives and most of the survivors are having to start again with nothing.
|A family living in a typical tent, with several people having to share very cramped conditions for more than six months|
|One of the new homes in Indonesia nears completion|
|An Indonesian family waits for its new home|
The Salvation Army was one of the first organisations to provide immediate relief aid in Aceh and now one of the participants in long-term rehabilitation of the area’s population.
Discussions with local authorities, the military and coordinating agencies in Aceh Barat indicated that the most pressing need of the people is improved shelter. The government wants to act as quickly as possible to move residents of temporary camps set up for internally displaced people (IDPs) to more suitable housing. Many people have been living in tents or temporary structures for more than six months.
The Salvation Army is able to contribute to this effort by building houses for the displaced and, following initial discussions with the local government, it has been given responsibility for the Suak Ribee and Suak Sidadang communities in the Meulaboh area.
The project was identified through The Salvation Army’s Compassion in Action teams which first responded to the emergency within a week of the tsunami happening. The response has been coordinated under the leadership of Indonesian Salvation Army officer Major Dina Ismael. A good working relationship with the local government is helping longer-term programmes to be put into place.
The Salvation Army in Indonesia is also implementing relief programmes – including medical clinics, reconstruction work and providing help to fishermen – on the devastated island of Nias.
The construction project in Aceh, which will boost the local economy by using local labour and materials wherever possible, will eventually see a total of 500 houses built in the two villages. Funding is being provided by the USA’s Salvation Army World Services Organisation, The Netherlands and United Kingdom Territories and the Hong Kong and Macau Command.
The construction programme runs alongside other projects that are making a great impact on the people of Aceh. A mobile medical clinic in the two IDP camps, where many of the beneficiaries are currently living, is dealing with people’s health needs. An income-generation project, targeting the women of the two villages, is helping provide equipment and materials needed to restart the cottage industries carried out prior to the tsunami.
When the project got under way the majority of the beneficiaries were living in IDP camps, while waiting for their houses to be reconstructed. Since construction began a number of beneficiaries have returned to their land where they live in temporary shelters. The eagerness of the people to start literally rebuilding their lives is painfully obvious.
Martyn Smith is a Salvationist from New Zealand currently working in South Asia for The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services office