Aceh Charity

I visited Meulaboh from June 20-23 with two friends of mine: a Frenchman, Michael, my architect in Bali, Zaeni, and myself. Michael is the founder and chairman of Indo Actions (an NGO that helps Indonesians), which can be accessed on the web at Currently the website is only in French but hopefully it will be available in Indonesian and English soon.

On June 20 we took the Sabang Merauke Air Charter from Medan to Meulaboh. It took 1 hour and 10 minutes to arrive in Meulaboh. The plane was small, holding only 16 passengers.

Once we arrived in Meulaboh, we took a public car to see the Camat (Meulaboh regency head official). After we discussed several things we checked in to the Mouligo hotel (there is only one hotel in Meulaboh). We then went to a fishing village to check the boats that needed to be repaired.

We were sponsoring the repair of ten boats and the construction of two small shops (warung). We explored the town and area devastated by the tsunami (which reaches inland to five kilometers from the coastline). It's all been completely FLATTENED. You just can't imagine it if you don't see it for yourself.

 During our exploration, we met many Acehnese and were struck by how beautiful the Acehnese women are (not all of course) but many! :) For dinner we ate a mix of Acehnese and Padang food'. yummy. But guess what!! No alcohol in Meulaboh. There is no 'Bir Bintang'!!!

On June 21, we bought supplies for the fishermen from boat and building shops. We didn't give the fishermen money directly except to pay 'tukang' (handymen). This was given in three payments through the Camat's office.

In the afternoon we visited four camps for the tsunami victims. I read that 17,000 people still live in the camps! Food and water are no problem as these are supplied by NGOs. There are about 28 NGOs in Aceh. I think the biggest is CRS (Catholic Relief Services), which plans to build 7,000 houses in Meulaboh! Other big NGOs include CWS (Church World Service) and OXFAM.

The most sophisticated NGO camp is the UN's of course. It offers free internet and even a Hotspot (wireless internet for laptops). Unbelievable that in the middle of nowhere we could use the internet for free!!! The UN camp was very clean, neat and professional looking.

During our visit to the camps for the tsunami victims, we found out that they still need sanitary kits: tooth brushes, tooth paste, soap, shampoo, underwear, bras, detergent, cotton buds and anti-mosquito lotion. I propose that we all contribute these items in one package, costing about Rp.50,000 each. This way everyone can contribute by just mentioning how many packages they want to sponsor.

On June 22, we went to the Camat office to meet with the fishermen to make sure that everything they need for repairing their boats was delivered by the shops. We reiterated that they should repair the boats as soon as possible so they can go fishing again. After the meeting we went to the fishing village again and took more pictures with the fishermen and their boats.

On June 23, we flew back to Medan via Simeulue Island.

On the way back I thought about how I could contribute to help the victims. I might not be able to do much, but I believe that if we cooperate and lend our hands together we can help them! I thought about how lucky we all are compared to the tsunami victims! So let's share our 'luck' with them!

May God Bless Us!