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30 March

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 12 months ago

Thursday 30 March



Arabella ChurchillI wake early and potter around with my head-torch on so as not to wake Haggis. Eventually he wakes up, feeling a little better. I ring Paul Dillon and we arrange to go and see him at IOM at 10.00 am.


"Lonely Planet" is right


We go and look at a few hotels in the middle of town - some are full and some are very nasty. The Lonely Planet Guidebook to Indonesia says, "Accommodation in Banda Aceh is neither cheap, nor anything to look forward to!" That was written pre-tsunami, but the situation is no better - indeed it is considerably worse, as prices seem to have almost doubled, without there being any rise in the levels of cleanliness or of facilities. Hey ho!


Budget strained


Eventually we find a nice, liveable room, but it costs almost double what the Charity can afford (we are trying to stick to a budget of £120 per person per week to cover food and accommodation - roughly £10 per night each for accommodation and £7 per day each for food tops - and this new double room is £33 per night rather than the top budget of £20 per night), so we decide to pay the extra ourselves. It is a clean, bright and comfortable room, a million miles away from the depressing room of last night (which was itself just over £20). We are going to be here in Banda Aceh for quite some while, doing shows and making contact with NGO's, so it it important we are comfortable and at ease - we will often be doing shows early-ish mornings and late-ish afternoons, so we need somewhere we will be able to relax happily and cool down between sessions in the heat of the day - so we are happy to pay the difference ourselves. We will need to do some good accommodation hunting while we are here, though, to find somewhere reasonable that Children's World International can afford if we are to send a larger team here this winter - the team won't want or need grand luxe at all, but we must place them in clean, bright, safe accommodation - maybe renting a house would be a good idea?


An excellent briefing


We take a tuk-tuk taxi to IOM and meet Paul. He gives us an excellent briefing on the post-tsunami situation here. More than 130,000 died in the province Aceh, with 36,000 missing, who still have not been declared "dead" - this is three to four times the total amount of deaths in Sri Lanka, and I find it almost impossible to imagine really. More than 450,000 are "homeless" - i.e. the home they were living in was destroyed by the tsuanmi. 60-70% of these people are living with relations or extended family (which is putting huge stress on normally small households) but at least 135,000 are having to live in either tented camps or "barracks" that were erected after the tsunami as forms of temporary housing. It is now 15 months since the tsunami, and although a massive amount of building is being done by many different NGO's, both of permanent and temporary houses, it is going to take a long, long while before everyone is rehoused properly. We hope to visit the camps and barracks with Save the Children, and run shows there in an attempt to jolly things up a little for the children and their parents and raise morale. "Fun" (which you could call psycho-social work) is, Children's World International believes, of real importance when people are having to live in really difficult and cramped conditions.




Paul tells us about all the housing that IOM is undertaking. Apparently it is not a question of reconstruction here in Aceh, but of construction - houses were completely destroyed. IOM's track record is splendid. We look at two of the model houses they have built in their compound. The houses are 42 square metres, and sturdily built of concrete (the bricks in this area being of poor quality), with 2 bedrooms and a kitchen and living area. There is an attached toilet and mandi. The houses are wired for electricity and they are built to withstand earthquakes up to the scale of 7.0. They cost approximately $8,000-8,500 each to build, and are really excellent. They like to build in groups of 50 houses if possible, as smaller settlement areas take more resources - Michael's money would only be able to pay for about 20 houses.


Medical training centres


As well as building houses, IOM are currently extremely keen on building medical training centres, that will train up nurses and midwifes and have a real impact and long-lasting effect on areas along the much-neglected West/South Malacca Strait coast of Aceh. IOM are working with Harvard Medical School on setting up these medical centres, which will then be handed over to the local health authorities. IOM ask me if Michael's money could be spent on building and equipping one of these. I tell them that I will pass all their information on to Michael, but that I think he is pretty determined to spend the money on housing. I will try to see 2 or 3 more agencies before I send Michael a progress report and recommendations.


From horrid to nice


We grab a quick lunch, then move all our luggage from the first, horrid, hotel to the second, nicer hotel. We buy a football for the parachute football games, coloured pens for badge makng and a new bag to put all the badge making equipment into. We change some money at the bank (the Sterling travellers cheques we brought for CWI expenditure are not welcomed for some reason - the banks far prefer American Dollars or Euros. Luckily Haggis and I have bought lots of Euros for ourselves, and there is also our visa card for emergencies - we must get Dollar travellers cheques next time.) We find a very hot and stuffy internet office and catch up with all my emails.


Meet Fadlulah


Paul of IOM recommended we get in touch with Fadlulah Wilmot, the head of Muslim Aid in Aceh, so I give him a ring. Fadlulah is in Jakarta and has just met Tony Blair, who is currently in Jakarta meeting Muslim leaders. Fadlulah is flying back to Aceh tomorrow morning and can see us at 10.00 am. Muslim Aid are very highly spoken of out here - hopefully they can find some "gigs" for us - I also want to look at their housing, as apparently it is very good.


One temporary house for $1,000


More emailing, and then we go to dinner at another NGO "hang-out" place called the Steak House. We meet a very interesting man called Ronald Ritchey from an organisation called International Disaster Emergency Service, and he tells me about the temporary housing IDES are building down the South/West coast of Aceh in Teunom. They are 6m x 6m wooden frame and board houses with tin roofs and cement floors. They don't have toilets or mandis, but the Red Cross is providing good communal toilet and washing facilities in the 3 villages Ides are working in. So far they have completed 311 units of the current 440 projected, with another 800 then still needed. They only cost $1,000 each! I ask Ronald to email me more details that I can pass on to Michael. These are temporary rather than permanent houses, and obviously nothing like as good quality as the IOM houses we have seen, but it would mean that Michael's money could house at least 130 families. We need to investigate more.




Straight to bed after dinner and sleep very well in our much more comfortable new room.








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