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

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About Aceh Relief Fund

Our History

In the morning of December 26th, in South-East Asia, the Indian Ocean had opened its maw; swallowing islands and people, and taking away lives that neither expected nor acknowledged what they were seeing. Within minutes, hundreds of thousands of lives is forever altered in unfathomable ways, including one of Ithaca’s own. Within four hours, eleven countries had a percentage of their population stripped off the demographic databank.

In Ithaca, New York, more than ten thousand miles away from the nearest ruins left in the wake of the tsunami, Saiful Mahdi, a 36-years-old Cornell University graduate student from Aceh - Indonesia, scrambled to find out news of his and his wife’s immediate family members.
It took days before he could wind up with any information, but what he found was nonetheless heartbreaking: Saiful’s grandmother, sister, brother and their families were missing. Mahdi had to return to Banda Aceh to find and rescue his family.

Concerned friends of Saiful then spread the news to personal contacts, pleading for financial help so Mahdi could return to Aceh with the necessary funds and proper relief equipments. The information was distributed through the internet and more traditional word-of-mouth. The results were more than what they had expected.

Overwhelmed by the number of donations pledged and declared through phone calls and e-mails, it soon dawned on Saiful’s friends that they had the means to go beyond just helping Saiful’s family. They initiate Aceh Relief Fund.

Aceh Relief Fund (ARF) is a direct front in response to the catastrophe in South-East Asia with the aim to fund Saiful and other volunteers in their quest of providing emergency relief to the victims of the tsunami in Aceh. ARF is about people – people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of thousands of victims of the tsunami in Aceh, especially those who are most vulnerable, namely children and women. Headquartered in Ithaca New, York, ARF is fortunate to have networks of active volunteers in Aceh and in the United States.

Our Uniqueness

» We utilized local network of volunteers and experts

Aceh Relief Fund relies upon and utilizes local networks in Aceh that are best able to deliver assistance in a culturally respectful manner. Our nature of work is fast and effective due in part to our close affiliation with local Acehnese groups and volunteers, who speak the language, accustom with the culture, and familiar with the place. In addition, since the majority of the volunteers are also victims of the tsunami, they are highly committed to the voluntary works as they are directly helping their own family and community.

In addition, ARF depends on the expertise of local Aceh professionals to make assessments and carry out prospective projects. Our representative in Aceh, who themselves are Acehnese are not only embedded within the network of volunteers and activists, but more crucially, provides leadership in selected activities of the network. Our direct involvements within these networks help to ensure the disbursement of fund reaching the victims of the tsunami, in a timely manner with minimal bureaucracy.

» We focus on the most vulnerable (children and women) in areas most needed by them (health and education)

ARF strives to service Acehnese who are most vulnerable, namely women and children and other Internally Displaced Persons . Most of our activities are concentrated in two areas namely, health and education. Access to the IDPs by ARF is made possible through its local network of voluntary organizations which have been collecting appropriate database on tsunami victims who do not live in camps and shelters, and thus, often being overlooked by major relief agencies. The IDPs are being visited by ARF’s volunteers on a regular basis to ensure adequate and continuous access to relief supplies.

» We plan for flexible immediate and long term initiatives

Besides providing relief in the immediate term, ARF has a longer term vision to promote programs that will eventually become part of the normal infrastructure of daily life in Aceh. Continuous update of the situations and needs on the ground are transmitted and evaluated collaboratively between ARF and its local partners. The information is used to develop new programs or as feedback to strengthen existing programs.

ARF commitment to facilitate active involvement of local Acehnese in relief and rebuilding works will enable them to develop necessary capacities to lead their community to become less dependent on external assistance in the future. Training programs will be developed and implemented by ARF and its affiliates to further harness leadership skills among local Acehnese.

» We stress on futuristic aspect of the assistance

ARF programs are very visionary as it stresses on the futuristic aspect of the re-development of Aceh. We believe that quick revitalization of local economy is essential to quicken the pace of the recovery, both among the people and the Province of Aceh (NAD). Many of our programs are geared towards facilitating to spur the local economy. In addition, besides focusing on schooling fro children, we also stress on educating adult members of the community to encourage them to play active roles in reshaping the future of Aceh.