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8 April

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 2 months ago

Saturday 8 April 2006


Arabella ChurchillIsta comes to collect us at 8.30 am to take us to a gig Amurt have set up for us at the Raider Barracks Kindergarten. A long drive - lucky she took us, as we would almost certainly have got lost otherwise. The Kindergarten is just outside the Barracks, and is very sweet. There are about 26 x 4-5 year-old children, all wearing an orange tabard as uniform.


We queue - in England


I go and make badges with them inside the building - this causes huge excitement and considerable shoving and pushing, considering how few they are - they all want their badge to be made up first - I'm clearly going to make up all the badges - every single child's will always be completed - but somehow still the children are almost always anxious, and there is still almost always this shoving and pushing, and sly little hands reaching out to reposition their badge centre higher in the pile. I try to put incoming badge centres at the bottom of the pile, so that the ones that came in first are at the top and get done first. "We queue in England", I mutter to myself. Sometimes the children "get" it and laugh with me - other times there is just this neediness to be first. This was particularly so in some of the needier camps in Sri Lanka - it's very sad and I never know quite how to deal with it best. Sometimes I get irritated, and then hate myself for getting irritated. Oh for more patience, kindness and understanding! Onwards and upwards but calm, calm, calm!


Lawless parachute football


Then Hags and I play some parachute games with the children outside. They love the parachute and a vigorous game of completely lawless parachute football ensues. They are lovely, lively children - towards the end we adults just waft the parachute up and down over them (which creates a lovely breeze) and they run around under the beautifully coloured silk panels, jumping up and down with glee. I wish I had had my camera handy - it was a beautiful sight!


Barracks children


There is no room at the Kindergarten for the show, so Hags, Ista and I head on to the Barracks and set up the props and the sound system in the balai at the Barracks, which are only 80m away. Ista (who is Balinese and speaks really good Bahasa and English) encourages mothers we meet along the way to bring their children to the show. A few children turn up and run amok around the parachute we are erecting as the backdrop for the show, and a few parents sit down around the edge of the room - far better for us if they would come and join the main audience, but they don't seem keen. Soon the Kindergarten children arrive, and Hags starts the show, which goes down really well considering what a small audience it is. Most of the Barracks children are at school, as they have school on Saturday mornings here. We have a similar set up arranged at the Bada Barracks tomorrow - hopefully because it will be a Sunday, there will be more children in the audience.


Raider Barracks seems more run-down and depressing somehow than the Lhoong Raya Barracks that we visited the other day. There has been a bit of rain in the last couple of days and some of the ground is turning to mud. Men are re-digging the trenches around the perimeter of the camp, and around the balai and other areas, as they had become bull of water and rubbish. It must be very difficult here in the rainy season.


Dwellings four metres square


The "Barracks" are long lines of wooden "terraced" rooms, rather like a terraced street of houses. Each dwelling is approximately 4m x 4m and some people have partitioned them into 2 even tinier rooms to achieve more privacy. The whole terrace is elevated on short wooden stilts, and there is a balcony that runs along the outside - this balcony, at least, is an improvement on the Sri Lankan temporary shelters, which though separate buildings, just run in long lines with no "sitting out" space at all. Some people have set up little shops, selling soap, eggs, tinned milk, etc. It is now 15 months since the tsunami, and it is unclear how much longer these many, many families will have to remain in Barracks (which themselves are, I suppose, a "step up" from the "Tented Camps". Permanent rehousing is going very slowly and all the NGO's seem to be experiencing problems with corruption, poor quality materials, and lack of building skills. Goodness knows how soon the majority will be rehoused.


Where the money went


Shortly before I left England the DEC (the Disasters Emergency Committee that distributed the large amount of money raised in the UK after the tsunami to 12 different major UK Charities) wrote a Report on what they had done. They criticised themselves on a couple of points - a major one being that, while Indonesia had received 60% of the tsunami damage, Indonesia had only received 31% of the UK donation money. The DEC said in their Report that they are hoping to increase that figure to 40%. Why not to 60%. I have now worked in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, which I am pretty certain are the 3 countries that were hardest hit by the tsunami. The situation here in Aceh is far, far worse than the situation in Thailand, and quite considerably worse than the situation in Sri Lanka (though that is not good at all, either, with many still living in awful temporary shelter areas - but the situation there is nothing like as huge and appalling as it is here in Aceh.)


I know there are a lot of NGO's here, and I am sure they are all trying to do their very best - but movement is slow, and more money needs to be committed to this area soon, and faster action taken, to get housing moving fast and well. If these poor people have to spend another 2 or 3 years living in such awful conditions, morale will become extremely low and people's characters will worsen. I certainly intend to write to the DEC as soon as I have time, and tell them what I have seen comparatively and call on them to "up" their contribution ratio to Indonesia to at least the 60% that should fairly be Indonesia's.


Is it a taxi? No, it's labi labi


There are no taxis at all in the area of the Raider Barracks, so Ista goes in search of a "labi labi" (just like the songtheuw we were driven about in, in Thailand - an enclosed driver front and a big back with a bench seat along each side). We go back to the hotel and relish the blissful cool of our air conditioned room for a while.


Muchtar of Muslim Aid has sent a message - Baznas School, which were going to visit this afternoon, have asked instead to have their session on Monday morning (which luckily is still "free"). So we get this afternoon "off" - though I use the word "off" very euphemistically. It's a great relief actually as it gives me the chance to catch up properly on this diary, which was running days behind, and get it onto the webpage, and for Haggis to download all the photos and get 2-4 good ones a day onto the website. I catch up with all the emails, letters to NGO's and phone calls that I just haven't had the time to do in recent days, update the timetable bring the "To Do" list (which always increases and never decreases!) up to date, and then we have another massive attack on preparing pinned badge backs and badge paper centres for the next few days of workshops.


Where to spend £100,000


Michael Eavis of the Glastonbury Festival (who wants to spend £100,000 on housing out here, and who has asked me to investigate the situation while I am here, and see what might be the best, safest, quickest, cheapest and most efficient way to spend the money) telephones, and we discuss the different possibilities. He, like us, likes the sound of the temporary houses, costing only £665 each, that IDES are building down in Aceh Jaya - he would like me to go down and have a look at them and check them out. Our Children's World Interntional timetable is very tightly booked with shows and workshop sessions, but I am trying to move the Education Department gig from our last Saturday backwards to the last Thursday or Friday, as that would just give us the chance to fly down to Aceh Jaya on the United Nations helicopter on our last Saturday 22nd April, stay 2 nights there with Ronald and Ellen of IDES, inspect the housing in the 3 different villages (and do Shows there) and fly back to Banda Aceh on the morning of Monday 24th April, before we have to fly to Medan that afternoon, to catch our flight back to Singapore on the morning of 25th. (If we are lucky we may find that we can fly from Aceh Jaya direct to Medan without having to come back to Banda Aceh - but we will have a lot of luggage, and I don't know if taking it all with us on the UN helicopter will be possible. I probably won't be able to sort this all out till Monday, as things seem to close down on Sundays (including the internet office at our hotel - rats and double rats!)


Time for admin


A good and useful afternoon and evening "off" - we have managed to more or less catch up to date. There are still a lot of things to be done, like contacting the press, talking to the Education Department, finding suitable but cheaper accommodation for the next Tour, trying to get NGO's to come and see the shows so that they will want to use our services later in the year, etc.) but I feel calmer and more up to date. Maybe I should schedule occasional half-days for the admin side of life - it is very difficult keeping the performance/workshop side of life and the admin/contacts side of life going at the same time without getting a bit tired, stressed and strained.


A little lie-in tomorrow as it is Sunday and the Kindergarten session will be 10-12 rather than 9-11. We are very nearly half way through our time in Aceh - I must say I am quite pleased. Although we have only been here 12 days we have achieved a lot - we have run 9 shows and several workshop sessions for approximately 800 children (lowish numbers as many of these shows and workshops have been in kindergartens and small camps rather than large schools), and we have also made a lot of contacts who will hopefully be able to help us set up a good, solid timetable for a bigger Tour later this year (God and funders willing - as I always feel the need to say - N'shallah, as the Muslims say!)







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