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20 April

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years ago

Thursday 20th AprilArabella Churchill

The plans were...

  • Back to Banda Aceh and sort out endless admin and bits and pieces in morning, getting hold of more cash, buying plane and helicopter tickets, and looking for accommodation for next Tour.
  • 4.00-6.00 pm Show and Workshops for Youth off the Streets

The best laid plans ....


Hags wakes me in the night and tells me his stomach is bad - oh dear! Flo was ill 2 days ago, then Richard yesterday, now Hags - it's definitely a bug, rather than something people have eaten. I pray he will feel better before morning, or we are going to have a difficult journey back to Banda Aceh.


Haggis sick


When we wake again at 6.00 Haggis is still feeling very rough, sick, stomach pains, giddy, head achey - I pack up all our stuff and we decant Haggis onto the minibus. This is the last time we will drive the long, windy and bumpy road from Gapang to Sabang for some months - wouldn't it be lovely if they repaved it by the time we get back! The distance probably isn't more than 25k, but it takes more than an hour each time because of the road being so full of potholes.


Thessa and the nice Norwegian divemaster are with us as they are going to Banda to collect the material that is being going to be made up by seamstresses on Pulua Weh into school uniforms. I settle Hags lying down and sleeping on the seats in the downstairs salon, and go and sit up on the deck with the girls. We see several leaping dolphins, who accompany the ferry for a while.


Desolation slowly cleaned up


Seeing the approach to the Banda area from the sea always depresses me -the desolation really is immense, and one can see so clearly how the geography and topography of this area meant that the tsunami was able to cause such immense damage. Still, masses of new houses seem to be going up, and slowly the area is being cleaned up. I am amazed by the Acehnese - they are so stoic, and they are pressing on with life, despite this huge disaster. There is also the wonderful "silver lining" that, since the tsunami, the conflict between GAM and the Government has ceased. The conflict had gone on for so many years and caused so many deaths, so much homelessness and so much misery and trauma - and now at last there is peace - hopefully it will last. Things feel very positive, so fingers crossed.


I don't think Haggis is going to be well enough to do a show at the Youth off the Streets Children Centre this afternoon, so I will ring Andy and see if they would just like me to go and do badge-making with the children. Will write more later.



Hags didn't get any better, so I ring Andy to warn him there will be no show, but ask if he would like me to go along anyway to do badge-making. I'm not quite sure he knew what I meant by badge-making, but he very sensibly said, "Yes!" I called Dedy, our best friend taxi man, and he and I set off to Sibreh. The journey should apparently only take about 20-25 minutes, but it takes us more than an hour as the Youth Off the Streets Children Centre is very off the beaten track and Dedy keeps getting lost even though he and Andy are talking to each other constantly on mobile phones.


Bella's solo appearance


Eventually we arrive - there is a wooden baila and about 15 big tents that the children sleep in. There has been a bit of rain in the last few days and the ground is getting pretty boggy - I really hope they can get them out of tents and into houses before the rains become more heavy later this year. 40 parentless children live here, between the ages of 10 and 19 - some were orphaned by the tsunami but many were orphaned by the conflict between GAM and the Government - how wonderful that there is peace now! The children are really friendly and lovely and are delighted that I have come to visit them - they are so sweet to me and kind and loving, especially one boy with special needs - I am so glad I made the decision to come on my own rather than take my weary body to bed - this is far more fun and far more rewarding!


Red tape rules, NOT OK


The children have all planted tiny gardens (some with fences) outside their tents. Aparently the Children's Centre has managed to buy the land and even has the money to build houses for the children, but bureaucracy rules and red tape holds things up - hopefully building will start soon, and the children will be dryly housed before the autumn wet season. Andy who runs the Children's Centre is a real live-wire - enthusiastic, bright, eager. He is doing a wonderful job there. Apparently his contract has come to an end and he is deciding whether to move on or not - hopefully he will stay - he is very much needed there.


Children love badges


The children love making the badges, and as there are only about 40 of them (and badges are the only thing I can offer) I let them make 4 or 5 each. They turn out some lovely artwork - one girl makes me a badge saying, "I miss you Bella" as she didn't want me to leave. I told them we would definitely come and visit them if we manage to come to Aceh again this autumn/winter. They were a lovely bunch of children and I had a great afternoon - I think they did too. No pictures, I'm afraid, as I was totally tied up with badgemaking.


Positive picture


There was a lovely, positive, painting with words on the wall, saying, roughly, that they hoped good things would come from the tsunami, and that there would be peace and that Aceh would flourish. Andy is going to photograph it for me and jpeg it to me, and I will put it on this webpage.


Positive hopes


Back to the hotel and pin the last 185 badge bits and cut out the last 185 badge centres. Haggis eats some soup and feels a little better - hopefully he is on the mend. I'm not feeling too brilliant myself, but am determined to fight off all and any germs - I want to end this trip on a high not a sick-bed low! Early bed, thinking about the things that remain to be done in the time that is left.

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