Journal from the Ground
by Mazalan Kamis
Seminar on the Role of Education in
I spend the entire morning at a seminar jointly organized by the Reading
Society Foundation of Aceh (Yayasan Masyarakat Iqra) and Phi-Beta
Learning Center (PBLC). The seminar which is sponsored by Aceh Relief
Fund (ARF) is held at Syiah Kuala University. The organizer had to turn
away more than 200 applicants, as the rented hall can accommodate only
350 persons. However, the organizer registered nearly 420 participants
since many rejected applicants also show up and in the end are allowed
to join the seminar. The participants are made up of university
students, teachers, representatives from NGOs and concerned individuals.
Both Saiful and I are among the invited speakers in the seminar.
Again, I continue to be amazed at the enthusiasm showed by the Acehnese
in wanting to share their thoughts and concerns about education and
reconstruction in Aceh. The seminar is held on a Sunday, the
air-conditioner is not working, and the room has to accommodate more
than it can fit…and yet, not a single complaint can be heard from the
participants! The seminar which starts promptly at 8:30am and is
supposed to end at 12:30pm has to be extended and ends only at 2:00pm at
the request of the participants.
The room is filled to the brink
with participants who show great enthusiasm for every topic
being presented at the Seminar
The audience is entertained by a
local acappella group, SKALA, during break time. The group
consists of Acehnese university students who are also affected
by the tsunami. One member of the group remains missing.
Delivering my presentation at the
Posing with the committee members
who have been working round the clock to prepare for the
Attending the meeting of Acehnese working with international agencies
After the Seminar, Saiful and I head to another venue for a meeting with
a group of Acehnese working with international agencies in Aceh. Saiful
calls for the meeting as he feels the need to pull together the
experiences of these Achenese to further benefit Aceh. I must say that I
am extremely impressed with Saiful who has to put on so many different
‘hats’ here in Aceh.
Young, bright, English-speaking
Acehnese who work with international agencies are coming
together to share their experiences.
Saiful is seen here chairing the
Punge Jurong V at night
Just after dinner, we decide to visit Punge Jurong V village again since
we are told that the bricks that we ordered have arrived. We were
supposed to be there in the evening, but our heavy schedule did not
permit us to do so. Furthermore, a night visit will also help us to gain
better and fuller perspective about how the IDPs lead their lives. I am
happy to note the generator set donated by ARF has truly given a sense
of life in the midst of the flattened village.
Donating more cash to the
villagers. Behind us are the bricks donated by ARF for the
reconstruction of the village’s mosque.
The village’s mosque and its
surroundings are now well lit thanks to the donated generator
set by ARF.