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02/11/05 12:00AM
Total Collected:
US$ 69,122.10




Past Updates: January 2005

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read more past updates:
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005

April 2005
 
 

» 01/30/05: The Receding Tidal Wave of Support: Can We afford It?
» 01/27/05: Delivering our promises (3): Children Friendly Space/Temporary school
» 01/25/05: Delivering our promises (2): Bringing donations and supplies directly to the people
» 01/23/05: Delivering our promises: Our mobile clinic begins operation in Aceh
» 01/21/05: Relief and rebuilding: The need for active local participation
» 01/20/05: The ball is in your court
» 01/19/05: Unbelievable tragedy
» 01/17/05: Moving ahead
» 01/16/25: Our collection hits $60K
» 01/13/05: Situation on the ground
» 01/12/05: More supplies received
» 01/10/05: Saiful arrived Aceh
» 01/08/05: Saiful reached Medan
» 01/06/05: We have raised $50K in just a week
» 01/05/05: Saiful has departed to Aceh
» 01/04/05: Fund raised so far: $40K


Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Sunday, January 30, 2005, 11:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

The Receding Tidal Wave of Support: Can We afford It?

We launched our efforts to collect donations and, later, formed Aceh Relief Fund at the right moment. We did so when there was an outpouring of support to help the victims of the tsunami. We began the effort when the whole world was still in shock and grieving for the utter destruction and the loss of lives left behind by the catastrophic tsunami. When every front page on every newspaper the world over featured tsunami related stories. When television stations bombarded their viewers with grim images from the ground, bringing the reality of the horrific destruction into every living room.


Grim images brought unprecedented media coverages on Aceh and its people.



Our sense of helplessness has been somewhat relieved by trying to do something about the situation, donating money and other resources in whatever manner we’ve been able. However, after one month, interest in the events has waned considerably. Tsunami related news is now relegated to a paltry space deep inside newspaper pages, while television stations flash the story only occasionally. Unfortunately, though, for the victims of the tsunami, the reality has only just set in. The struggle to get back to normal, whatever that means, is only just beginning.

It would indeed be tragic if we abandon the victims at the time when they need us most. Bringing emergency relief is one thing, but helping with the recovery is an even greater responsibility. In a war ravaged province like Aceh, this effort is acute. Local leaders have long disappeared, eliminated by war or having taken refuge in other places or countries. What is left is a society with a crumbled social infrastructure: a society that has been stripped of its ability to make decisions without fears of ramification and a society that has been, for decades, forced to abide by external wishes in order to survive


Aceh has been under military rule for many years.



After one month of being on the ground in Aceh, it is indeed clear to all of us at ARF that rebuilding Aceh is not merely about providing shelters and food and supplies to the victims. It is more about rebuilding a society into one that is capable of determining its future and standing on its own feet. It is about focusing energy on encouraging the Acehnese to be current and future leaders. And this cannot be done in a matter of days and months.

We have made it clear that we will need to be in Aceh for the long term. The recent assessment by Saiful, our representative there, only strengthens this conviction further. But, what does this entail?

We need you, more than ever, to support us. The ARF provides an avenue for you to be actively and positively involved in helping to rebuild the lives of the Acehnese. The media will have a dwindling interest in Aceh; there will be other news stories to sell. Nevertheless, just like us, we hope your interest in helping the Acehnese to rise from the rubble will remain foremost on your mind. We cannot afford for our interest to recede, much like the tidal wave, into the background ocean of our lives.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Tuesday, January 27, 2005, 11:55 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Delivering our promises (3): Children Friendly Space/Temporary school

In the aftermath of the tsunami, displaced children are the most vulnerable as many lack safe houses and stable guardians to help them recover from their traumatic loss. It is, therefore, most important that their lives be returned to normal as fast possible. Realizing the urgency of the situation, Saiful, our representative in Aceh, has mobilized his team of volunteers that consists of surviving teachers and staff of Phi-Beta Learning Center to rehabilitate the center. The center will be used for temporary schooling for school-going children and/or to provide Children Friendly Space for younger children. Pre-tsunami, Phi-Beta, an educational center that Saiful helped to establish, was a semi-profit institution providing test preparation assistance. During this difficult time, with the help of the Aceh Relief Fund, the center will be used purely as a non-profit activity center for Acehnese children.


Front view of the damaged Phi-Beta Learcing Center. Picture by Saiful. Jan 10th




All furniture and equipment has been destroyed. Picture by Saiful. Jan 23rd.




Surviving teachers and staffs working hard to rehabilitate the learning center. Picture by Saiful. Jan 23rd.


 

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Tuesday, January 25, 2005, 11:55 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Delivering our promises (2): Bringing donations and supplies directly to the people

On the festival of Eid-ul Adha, Saiful was able to bring a little smile on many faces of Acehnese in Banda Aceh. He donated some cash to the victims as well as to the student volunteers. In addition, the medicines and other medical supplies have all been put to good use. The communication equipments have been a great help in facilitating the volunteers with their works. And, of course, the rented truck and van, courtesy of Aceh Relief Fund, have been instrumental in helping the distribution of supplies and transporting the volunteers around Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar.


Using a two way radio donated by Aceh Relief Fund, Linda, coordinates the delivery of supplies to various destination. Picture by Saiful. Jan 20th.




Working in the dark; dedicated volunteers continue with their discussion about the next day plan despite frequent electrical power breakdown in Banda Aceh. Our continued support help bring some cheers to their highly stressful work. Picture by Saiful. Jan 16th.




An old man, taking shelter at his relative’s home, is happy to accept supplies package from our volunteer. Picture by Saiful. Jan 19th.




In addition to giving small cash donation to individual victims, Saiful also give cash donation to local NGO. Seen here, Taufik Abda (right) at Coalition for Save Aceh accepting cash donation from Aceh Relief Fund to be used in three shelters along the road to Krueng Raya, Aceh Besar. Picture by Saiful. Jan 7th.



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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Sunday, January 23, 2005, 10:00 AM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Delivering our promises: Our mobile clinic begins operation in Aceh.

I am glad to inform you that our mobile clinic is now fully operational in Aceh. Aceh Relief Fund together with other local volunteer groups is now operating a mobile clinic in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar. The clinic concentrates in providing services to victims of the tsunami who stay with relatives in these areas. The mobile clinic team consists of two certified nurses, one certified midwives, two certified paramedics, and two assistants. Occasionally, the clinic also extends their services to camps and shelters, if and when there is a request for it. For the time being, the plan is to operate the clinic for one month. Operation beyond this period will depend on our assessment of the future needs as well as the capabilities of all collaborating partners to provide the service.


Central New York: Aceh Relief Fund banner is proudly displayed on the mobile clinic. Picture by Saiful. Jan 19th.




The nurses and paramedics posed in front our mobile clinic. Picture by Saiful. Jan 19th.




Our volunteer nurse adminisiter Vitamin A drops to a kid in Darussalam, Banda Aceh. Picture by Saiful. Jan 19th.




Our nurse examined a child in Tungkop, Aceh Besar. Picture by Saiful. Jan 19th.




Our paramedic checked a women’s pulse at an IDP shelter. Although the team concentrates their effort in providing health services to victims who do not stay at camps/shelters, sometimes they get calls for help from those whose shelters do not have such services. Picture by Saiful. Jan 19th.


 

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Friday, January 21, 2005, 11:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Relief and rebuilding: The need for active local participation

The recent figures released by the UN indicate that nearly a quarter of the population of Aceh was effected by the tsunami. Those affected are considered dead, missing, injured or displaced. A total of nearly one million out of four million populations are affected. This leaves about three million Acehnese who are not directly affected.
 


Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Aceh. The number of IDPs are now more than half a million. Map by United Nation: Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator, Banda Aceh. Jan 13th.




One question jolted my mind when I studied the figures. How many out of the three million Acehnese are actively involved in organized relief works in Aceh? Saiful’s report from the ground provides clue to this question. From Saiful’s own observation, local participation is unbelievable low (to be exact, almost none). Apparently, except for the network of volunteers that Saiful is embedded with, there are hardly any other organized relief groups of Acehnese around. Well, at least, not in Banda Aceh where Saiful is based. The truth is, the volunteers in his network, like him, are Acehnese who study/work/live outside of Aceh. They rushed back home with the purpose of finding missing family members, as well as extending helps to other victims of the tsunami. Just whatever happened to Acehnese who live in Aceh? Where are they? Why don’t they mobilize themselves to help fellow Acehnese who are victims of the tsunami?

Could it be that the social fabric of Acehnese society had crumbled? After being ravaged for decades by war that is still going on, isolated for years by military authorities, crippled by the elimination of local leadership structure; the social infrastructure in Aceh had practically collapsed. The tsunami only made worse the situation that was already bad. “Local initiatives are gone as civil society is not developing and people are not fully in charge of their life and needs. Now, Acehnese are so accustomed to being passive, sometimes apathetic. They are waiting for others to do things for them...” wrote Saiful in the Jan 10th entry to his journal.
 


Humanitarian Coordination Meetings in Aceh to coordinate relief efforts are rarely attended by Acehnese. Picture by Saiful. Jan 18th.




Such observation is a cause for concern. The truth revealed itself when Saiful attended the General Humanitarian Coordination Meeting organized by the United Nation (UN) in Banda Aceh on Jan 18th recently. This observation is further confirmed when he attended other meetings with different UN agencies separately. These UN agencies, as expected, are made up of almost entirely foreigners. While these meetings are open to relief organizations, they are very rarely attended by Acehnese. Local participation in determining the nature and contents of relief and recovery efforts are almost non-existence. Acehnese continue to lose, even when they are supposedly being assisted to rise back from the rubbles.

Realizing the acuteness of the problem, Saiful has begun mobilizing the local Acehnese to participate actively in conceptualizing the process of rebuilding Aceh beyond the current relief programs. Being young and highly educated, Saiful and his network of volunteers present new hope for a brighter future for Aceh.

Aceh Relief Fund is committed towards facilitating Saiful and other Acehnese like him to achieve their mission in rebuilding Aceh in a manner they deemed fit.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Thursday, January 20, 2005, 11:50 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

The ball is in your court

The arrival of Saiful’s journal brings unprecedented images of what Aceh is like, right now. The written words accompanied by powerful images captured personally by Saiful provides insight into the sights, sound and smell of the destruction in Aceh left by the tsunamis. I have spent countless hours watching news on television, listening about it on radio, downloading grim images from the internet, and reading about it in newspapers, but they are nothing compared to the personalized account of the situation by someone whom you know very well.
 


Saiful found the back-pack that he bought for Zuchdi, his youngest brother. In it, he found Zuhdi’s wallet containing his ID card, ATM card, student ID card and some cash. Picture by Saiful.




And I know, how we feel about it half way across the globe, is nothing compared to what Saiful is experiencing, first hand, right there on ground zero. Searching through the debris to find the loved ones, finding items that belong to them, stumbling upon corpses right in what used to be his family living/bedroom, thinking about how scary it must have been for his loved running away from the 10m waves that finally engulfed them; must have been extremely heart wrenching for Saiful.

But, I also know that the little thing we do here, the few extra dollars that we can get our friends to donate to this cause, the string of emails that we send out to spread the news about this initiative, the phone calls that we make to relay our own stories related to this cause, means so much to Saiful. Every little thing that we do for this cause may have profound impact to those receiving it in Aceh.

The ball is now in your court. Do something about it…

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Wednesday, January 19, 2005, 11:30 AM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Unbelievable Tragedy

How does it feel like to be in ground zero? Worst still, how does it feel like to be standing on rubbles that was once your home? The place where you grew up and have many fond memories, where you spent countless hours playing with your childhood friends, where you and your little brothers and sisters fought over petty things, where everyone in the neighborhood were like an extended families to you. The place is now nothing but rubbles. The whole community is gone. Where are your neighbors? What happened to all your childhood friends? And, where are your brothers and sisters? I, for one cannot imagine being in such a situation. And that was what Saiful did on On Jan 9th. Saiful went back “home”.

Saiful went back to his village, and witnessed first hand, the destruction caused by the powerful tsunami on his mother’s properties. You can read all about it in his most recent entry to his journal here.
 

Saiful found this folder from the University of Vermont where he gets his Masters Degree while searching in the debris where his house once stood. Picture by Saiful. Jan 9th.




There are thousands of Saifuls in Aceh right now. Many are in even worse condition than Saiful. And, many of them are children. Children, who, in split second, had become orphans. Children, who witnessed how their parents were ripped away from them by the tsunami.

The latest figure released by the Government of Indonesia shows that more than 600,000 people are being displaced by the calamities. If we can help a tiny portion from this number, if we can send donations and supplies directly to them, if we can help to bring some normalcy back to their life, at least (I hope) it would help to lessen their suffering.

This is exactly what Aceh Relief Fund is all about. We are here to channel your donations directly to the people of Aceh. Saiful and his network of volunteers bring relief to those victims who are staying with relatives; and apparently being neglected because they are not staying in camps or shelters.

We need your continuous support in order to effectively assist Saiful in his commendable relief effort in Aceh. Spread the news about our work around. We need your help.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Monday, January 17, 2005, 11:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Moving Ahead
 
As the first step in providing emergency assistance in Aceh is moving well, I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with a brief updates about our effort and invite you to be involved in medium term relief initiatives made possible in the first place by your generosity.

Thanks to your contribution, our fund has now gone beyond USD 60,000, and a lot of people in Aceh are now benefiting from it.

We have been very effective in delivering relief in Aceh, due in part to our close affiliation with local Acehnese groups. Our representative, Saiful Mahdi, is not only embedded within the network of volunteers and activists, but more crucially, he also provides leadership in selected activities of the network.

By next week, Aceh Relief Fund will operate a mobile clinic to serve survivors who are sheltered in relatives’ homes in villages not affected by the tsunami. Apparently, these survivors have been left out and have had difficulties getting assistance from relief agencies, which seem to focus their assistance to those housed in formal shelter centers.
 


The first test to run a mobile clinic went very successfully. Seen here are volunteers with supply of medicines brought by Saiful. Next week, the mobile clinic will be fully operational. Picture by Saiful.



For the mid-term period, Aceh Relief Fund will focus efforts in rebuilding and rehabilitating two schools, one at Taman Sari in Banda Aceh, and another at Saree in Aceh Besar. Schools provide structures to children's daily life, and hopefully will help speed up their recovery. The school in Taman Sari was partially destroyed, while it's branch in Lumpreit was completely wiped out by the tsunami. So far, 18 out of 70 staffs of the Taman Sari School have come forward and agree to help reopen the school as soon as possible. The fates of the rest of the staffs remain unknown.
Work on Saree school will convene as soon as we are able to get the Taman Sari school in operation. The Saree school was not effected by the tsunami, but was forced to close down due to the ravaging war.  These schools are chosen because Saiful was one of the key persons who helped established them several years ago.


What left of a school once attended by Saiful. Only one lone classroom remains standing on the right.  Picture by Saiful.



For the long-term, we plan to adopt a village or a sub-district where we can focus our assistance effectively. Our focus will continue to be in two areas; health and education, with special attention to the welfare of the children.

Realizing that we will be in Aceh for a long haul, we have decided to continue opening our Fund for donation. The PayPal facility makes it easy for you and your friends to donate on a regular basis to Aceh Relief Fund. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can always donate through other means; cash, checks, or direct deposit. The choice is yours; choose the amount you want to donate and the length of the donation period best suited to you.

We are also contemplating a number of fundraising events in the near future in Ithaca and Central New York area. For further updates on our initiative please visit our website regularly.

You are most welcome to join our online discussion group at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/acehrelief/.

Thanks again for the overwhelming support and generosity!

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Sunday, January 16, 2005, 09:00 AM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

This is certainly one of the best days for us at Aceh Relief Fund. Our collection hits US$60,000. The donations have been arriving from all over the United States. We also received donations from some friends in Canada and Malaysia! The more donations we get, the stronger our resolve towards assisting the Acehnese to regain their strength to build a meaningful future. 

I would like to thank Saiful and his comrades who are working doubly hard in Aceh right now. You can read Saiful's moving account of the situation on the ground right here. We will provide you with updates to his journal as soon as we received it from him.

After receiving some assessment of the situation on the ground from Saiful yesterday, it is very clear to us that helping the Acehnese means we will be involved in Aceh for a long haul. I am glad to inform you that besides our rigorous participation in the current emergency relief efforts, we have also drawn our medium and long term plan for providing relief to the people of Aceh. We have decided to focus on two areas; health and education. Details of the plan will presented to you soon.

Aceh Relief Fund will need to be around a lot longer than what was originally planned. How could we not be, when, even after nearly three weeks, thousands of corpses remain to be buried? Clearing the debris alone will take months. Helping the people to get back on their feet will take years. The people of Aceh need our help. We could not be there on the ground to help them. But, we can of course chip in a few dollars every month to sustain the much needed relief effort there. You can now donate to Aceh Relief Fund on a regular basis through PayPal, here. Choose the amount you want to donate and the length of the donation period best suited to you.

Thank you again for your continuous support.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Thursday, January 13, 2005, 09:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

My first direct contact with Saiful: Today 11:00AM via Online Chat

Situation on the ground
Dead bodies are still everywhere. Many more are expected as mountains of rubbles are yet to be cleared.

So far mobility from Medan to Aceh and vice-versa is pretty OK, but roads are congested. In addition, movement within Banda Aceh is also improving. The Military is yet to restrict any movements within the areas.

Saiful's village is totally wiped out. Those from his village who survived the catastrophes either move with relative in Sigli (2-hours away) or stay in shelters,

Basic supplies are available, but the distribution is very bad.

Saiful's family
After being delayed thrice, he finally managed to put his sister and her family on a flight to Jakarta this morning. The three kids are still traumatized, they cry continuously.

Saiful is yet to find his missing family members.

Other family members are now staying with his relatives in Sligli.

Saiful's network
Saiful and his network of friends are better coordinated to deliver supplies compare to most other international relief works - especially within the areas where they are operating.

Reason being, their network are made up of Acehnese themselves. They know the area, the people, the language, and even where to get additional supplies.

Saiful's group works with two other groups in Medan and four different groups in Aceh. In Aceh, they have already set a command post which has been functioning very well. His network concentrates on helping those who do not stay in shelters.

Saiful met twice with representatives from two UN agencies. This is part of his plan for access to an alternative back-up system, in case situation on the ground calls for it.

Where your contributions go
Saiful and others who come back with back up funding, rented a pick-up truck and a truck. They bought more supplies in Medan. They donated 1/2 truck of supplies to other groups in Medan which has little or no funding. They are mostly Acehnese students from Indonesian universities.

After being in Aceh for about four days, Saiful can now make better objective assessment of the situation and provide us with feedback on how we can continue assisting the Acehnese effectively. He has already decided to get future supplies in surrounding Aceh itself, instead of Medan. This, he said, will at least help to spur local economy which if badly battered by the tsunami.

So, your contribution is doing doubly good job; provides direct assistance, and spur the local economy. Be sure to continue support Saiful and his mission in Aceh.

Aceh Relief Fund needs your support
.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 07:30 AM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

I am happy to let you know that your contribution is currently flowing right into Aceh. Saiful has been buying more supplies in Lhokseumawe, a nearby town close to Banda Aceh. This is certainly a positive news, since it also indicates that at least some part of Aceh is going back, albeit slowly, to normal.

Back here in Ithaca, our collection continues to grow. As of tonight, total contribution has gone beyond 58K. This certainly surpassed all of our earlier expectations. Even the newly setup PayPal account has netted more than USD1,000 within just a few days.

Aceh Relief Fund is entirely operated by dedicated volunteers. All operating cost is borne by the volunteers themselves. The only reason that keeps them moving is the will to see those who survived the tsunami in Aceh to quickly regain their strength to build a new beginning. The more support we get from you, the more we can do to help the Acehnese.

I have been receiving many queries from members of our community who expressed interest to volunteer in Aceh. Aceh Relief will do all that we could to facilitate for such a trip. We anticipate Saiful will be sending his assessment of the situation in Aceh to us in a couple of days. We will let you know whether such a trip is viable at all. Please do continue to contribute and be part of this initiative.


01/04/05 06:07PM - Supply items donated by generous members of Ithacan community.



01/04/05 06:11PM - More supplies. Saiful managed to bring all of them to Aceh.


 

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Monday, January 10, 2005, 10:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

One of us managed to have a very short phone conversation with Saiful today albeit a very poor connection. It was a one way call, since he could hardly hear us. From whatever little that we could gather, apparently, the situation in Aceh is still very chaotic. However, with his network intact, Saiful is able to be mobile. He managed to visit his village and his house which is still lying in ruin. He plans to return to Medan in several days and will be in contact with us afterward. The trip is to enable him to get more supplies. There is no word yet whether he had seen his sister and her family in Sigli. Nor is there any news about his family members that are still missing.

More checks arrived in Mazalan's mailbox today; and we also received more PayPal donations (through donate@acehrelief.org). The figure has surpassed US$55,000. We will be updating the actual amount on January 11, 2005.

We have began using a catchphrase People to People
◦  Speedy  Direct to reflect the nature of our work. Please let us know, what you think about it.

Meanwhile, do let others know of our initiative. The people in Aceh need our help.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Saturday, January 8th 2005, 11:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

Saiful arrived in Medan on January 7th around 10 am local time. While in transit in Singapore, he bought a satellite phone. Amidst the chaotic situation in Medan, immediately after touching down he managed to call his wife, Dian, very briefly. Saiful's brother and Dian's brother picked him up at the airport. He was yet to meet his surviving sister and her family since they stayed in a safe house in Sigli, a town about two hours from Banda Aceh and more than ten hours away from Medan. We are yet to receive any e-mail update from him.

Late this afternoon, Dian managed to get connected with someone within Saiful's circle. She was informed that Saiful had already left for Banda Aceh with rental truck complete with supplies. However, this information cannot be verified as we are yet to receive any information directly from Saiful.

In the meantime, back in Ithaca, Mazalan keeps receiving donation, thanks to many of you who helped to spread the story about our initiative. Total amount collected now has gone beyond US$53,000. We believed the amount can touch 55K soon, especially after payment through PayPal is made available through this website.

To those who want to donate supplies, you are most welcome to do so. However, please do contact us first to verify whether the supplies are suitable for collection.

We have created a list-serve with yahoo-groups. You can access it at 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/acehrelief/. You can join through the yahoogroups website, or send email to us by clicking the Contact Us button on the left of this page. The list enables donators of Aceh Relief to exchange ideas and share thoughts about the aftermath of the tsunami in the Aceh region, and to discuss how best can we help those affected by it.

Again please remember Saiful and his family in your thoughts and prayers so that he can be strong throughout his relief mission in Aceh. Thank you.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Thursday, January 6th 2005, 6:00 PM EST
By Zevi Azzaino

On behalf of Saiful Mahdi and his family, we want to thank you all for your support; in just a week we have raised over US$ 50,000. Saiful has safely arrived in Singapore (Changi Airport) at 12:30AM local time or 11:30AM EST today. A couple hours later, while he is waiting for his next flight to Medan, he managed to send us his first email!

Below are some digital images taken at Syracuse Airport before he departed.


01/05/05 07:36AM - Checking in: Ticket for Saiful was donated by a Cornell graduate student and his wife.




01/05/05 07:38AM - The family he left behind in Ithaca.




01/05/05 07:46AM - Security check: two luggage and a box full of supplies donated by generous Ithacans.




01/05/05 08:01AM - Words and hugs to his family members, watched by friends who are accompanying him at the airport.




01/05/05 08:09AM - A few encouraging words from Mazalan to Saiful just before his departure.



Again please remember Saiful and his family in your thoughts and prayers so that he can be strong throughout his relief mission in Aceh. Thank you.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Wednesday, January 5th 2005, 3:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

On behalf of Saiful Mahdi and his family, we want to thank you all for your support; he has departed today to Aceh. In just six days, we have raised over USD $46,000 for Saiful to take to the Aceh region.

The money that you have sent to help Saiful and his family has already been working even before he departs: it helps pay for his brother's trip from Jakarta to Banda Aceh to search for their family. As many of you may have already known his brother managed to find one of their sisters along with her husband and their three little children. All of them are traumatized by the calamity, especially the children. They are now taking shelter in a safe home of a relative about two hours away from Banda Aceh.

There have been unconfirmed report of sighting of Saiful's other sister and his youngest brother and, that has given renewed hope for Saiful to try and find them. His grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins remain missing. What is worrying, apparently, being in the midst of this devastated region, having to search bodies after bodies to find his family members is a traumatic experience for Saiful's brother. Let us pray that, with the return of Saiful to his home town to complete the search, he will be able to provide some emotional support for his family, and to offer some relieves to others.

Saiful managed to bring all in-kind supplies that have been donated. He will have an 8-hr stopover in Singapore after a long 24 hr journey from Syracuse. He intends to get more relief supplies in Singapore before flying to Medan, where he will be meeting at least 12 Acehnese graduate students from all over the world who also return home to find their family members. Unlike Saiful, many of these students come home without funding sources. Your donation will also be used to help such students.

It will take a long time for Aceh to return to normality. Ten of thousands of Acehnese need our support in order to rise from the rubble. I am in the process of forming Aceh Relief Fund where all current and future donations will be channeled. Please continue to mobilize your own friends and members of your communities to be part of this initiative.

Please keep Saiful in your thoughts and prayer so that he can be strong throughout his relief mission in Aceh. Thank you.

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Update on Aceh Relief Fund
Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 7:00 PM EST
By Mazalan Kamis

FUND RAISED SO FAR
On behalf of Saiful Mahdi and his family, we want to thank you all for your support; he is busy preparing for his departure tomorrow. In a short time, we have raised over US$40,000 for Saiful to take to the Aceh region. In addition, Saiful and I were recently interviewed by the Ithaca Journal which will likely generate more donations.

The link to Ithaca Journal piece:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/news/stories/20050103/localnews/1819745.html (cached) 

SAIFUL’S PLAN ON THE GROUND
Saiful plans on meeting his brother and other friends in the nearest city (Medan). His objectives are to find his missing family members and provide emergency relief for victims. From Medan, he will rent a truck(s) and buy supplies (water, food, gasoline and antibiotics, etc.) and drive to the Banda Aceh to provide aid and to better assess the damage and the needs of the area. Because there is so little information coming out of this region, it is impossible to know the exact needs. However, after this first load, Saiful hopes to continue making trips into the region with fresh supplies and aid. Saiful plans to be in the region for 2-3 months.

IN-KIND DONATION RAISED AS OF JANUARY 4TH, 6PM

Item

Quantity

1. Personal water purifier  

1 sets

2. Water purification tablets

18 bottles

3. Handy walkie-talkie (brand: Motorola)

6 Sets

4. Reliable back-pack

1

5. Tent (5 adults)

1

6. Light weight boot

1

7. Disposable Overall

1

8. Swiss army knives

1

9. Flashlight

2

10. Batteries for Flashlight

Many dozens

11. Digital Camera (for use by others in the group)

3

12. Memory Card for digital camera               

1

13. Compass 

1

14. Office supplies and all weather writing pad

 

15. Charger kit for car/truck

1

16. Mask (protective gear)

14 box

17. Rechargeable battery kit

1 set

18. Hand gloves/heavy protective gloves

280/1

19. Medical supplies

 

20. Sleeping bag

1

21. Portable power station

1

22. Inflator

1

23. Chlorine detector 1

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