Journal from the Ground
by Mazalan Kamis
Proposal Writing Workshop
I am all excited seeing faces of the young bright Acehnese attending the
workshop. They hail from various parts of Aceh. The workshop is
organized by Aceh Civil Society Institute (ACSI) and supported by
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH-Legal Aid Society) and PBLC. It is held in
one of the classrooms at PBLC. The workshop starts at 8:30 and has to
end at 3pm, because the classroom is used by PBLC students in the
evening. Due to overwhelming requests from many local Acehnese volunteer
groups, another workshop has been scheduled for next week.
Posing under the ARF banner with the participants
of the workshop. The computers and other IT equipment were
provided by LBH.
Eight organizations send participants to the workshop. They include:
People Crisis Center (PCC), Aceh Civil Society Task Force (ACSTF), Aceh
Cinema Society (ACS), Meulaboh Crisis Center (MCC), Center for
Humanitarian and Social Empowerment (CHSE), Children Media Center (CMC),
Phi-Beta Learning Center (PBLC), Mahasiswa Rakyat (MR), Lembaga Bantuan
Hukum (LBH) and Sahabat Insani (SI).
The workshop in progress.
I am amazed by how well the participants can articulate their role in
reconstructing Aceh. The participants refine their proposal on the spot
as we discuss the specifics of a grant-writing proposal. The air in the
room is hot and stifling, but none of the attendees ever complain about
Presenting donated supplies to ARF
After the workshop is over, I meet again with PBLC staff. I present them
with the donated school supplies that I brought along from Ithaca. In
the picture above, standing in the middle is Pak Din, the acting head of
PBLC. Pak Din, who hails from Calang, the worst hit area by the tsunami,
lost his father and his brother to the tsunami.
Back in Punge Jurong V
Later in the evening, I am told that we have successfully purchased a
generator set for Punge Jurong V village. Shortly thereafter, Pak Abu,
the village head, calls us to inquire about his request. As it is almost
6:00 pm we decide to head on to the village to present the generator, so
that at least it can be used immediately tonight. Upon arrival, I am
surprised to find the presence of more villagers and more new tents
being set up as compared to the previous day. Apparently, Pak Abu
manages to ask the villagers to assemble together to receive the much
anticipated gift from ARF – the generator set!
Pak Abu receiving the generator set
donated by ARF.
It is difficult to describe the happiness shown by the villagers upon
receiving the generator set. There is an immediate sense of festivities
when some of the villagers start to climb to the second floor of the
mosque and set the generator to work. The tsunami did not reach the
ceiling of the mosque and the hope is that some of the lights and the
wiring might still work.
Finally, when they manage to put the generator to work, everyone jumps
with joy and claps their hands. They start calling others to look at the
lights, and the mosque suddenly fills with more people. The mosque is
the nerve center for a village in Aceh. If a mosque can function again
then surely a community will soon reemerge around it.
I shed tears of joy upon witnessing how a small gift from ARF can bring
immense happiness to the villagers. This is what happens when we are
able give people what they REALLY ask for.
Lights back ON!
The picture above shows some of the lights on the second floor of the
mosque that are now lit, thanks to the donated generator set from ARF.
The water level mark on the wall provides a tell tale sign that the sea
water reached the second floor of the mosque during the tsunami.
Inside the battered mosque.
Before leaving, Pak Abu gives me a tour of the mosque. As can be seen in
the picture above, Pak Abu is showing me items belonging to the
villagers that have been brought back from the shelter where they were
sent after the tsunami. Many of the items, like stoves and cooking pots,
were donated by ARF to the community.