Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Birth

Thursday 30 June, 2005 1300: Mulia

Today was an exciting day. As my coworker, Barbara, said, we birthed a baby today. That baby was my Cash for Work project. After a lot of discussion with our sister NGO, here in Banda, we wanted to start with a small village and work out any kinks that might develop as a result. Barbara, our finance delegate from Jakarta, came up for the first day of the project and also to work with my finance/admin officer to ensure that all the villagers get the supplies which they need. We went out at 8:00 AM to the site. Mulia is a sub-village inside of Banda Aceh. It was in the direct path of the tsunami. Destroyed houses were everywhere. Before the tsunami, the village had 2000 people. Now it has 800. I came there expecting to watch the first day of signing in. It turns out they wanted to have a small ceremony and I had to give a speech! The village really went to a lot of work to get ready for this ceremony. There were banners and the local Imam had been invited to also speak. After the chief spoke, then the Imam talked for about ten minutes. It was then my turn. I really wasn’t sure what to say, but I talked about the effects of the tsunami and how on the 26th of December, Aceh cried, then the world cried. I tried to stress that I am only here because of the American people and their desire to help the people of Aceh. I know that this is only a small token of gratitude, but if we can clean this one village, and clean it well, then we’ve done something.

The people were very grateful. After the speech, Barbara and I distributed token wheelbarrows and hats to village representatives. It was a bit strange, I felt like the queen of England or something… I almost touched my hair, making sure I wasn’t wearing a flowered hat! After the ceremony, they brought us to a table (almost like a tribunal) where we could watch the rest of the distribution. They had refreshments for us as well. I didn’t want to sit though. I got up and watched as coordinators made ID cards and distributed boots, hoes, wheelbarrows, and gloves. Many NGOs do not provide protective equipment. I’m glad that we made that a policy early on. We also took a small tour of the village and saw some of the devastation. It disturbs me how the devastation doesn’t shock me anymore. I feel almost numbed from it.

I think we got some good press from the event. Our local press officers were there taking snapshots and interviewing villagers. It was really a great feeling to see something develop from inception to implementation. Knowing I must return in mid-August, it pains me to know that I will not be able to be here to see the program’s completion. I’ll be honest, though. I really enjoyed the moment, but it’s something that I never could have done without the volunteers on the ground. We’re finished with planning and are now in the program management stage… let the fun begin!


Blogger amy said...

you are so cool josh!!! how do you put those pictures up?? i am so glad you keep us posted so well!

4:11 AM  
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