terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Meulaboh, Part 3

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Day 1 Baker
The drive through the town to the school we've been assigned to, only about 1.5 km from the shore in actuality, was done in silence. Each of us was lost in our own thoughts as we watched the destruction up close. The banter that had developed during our enforced confinement and gradual building of camaraderie onboard the RSS Endeavour was missing for the moment.


Meulaboh Town #1
Originally uploaded by Terz.


Our eyes took in the flattened and burnt-out buildings and the scores of listless people wandering the dusty streets, at a loss for where, perhaps, to begin helping out. Mentally, I was not prepared for what I was seeing.


Meulaboh Town #2
Originally uploaded by Terz.


I recall the pre-arrival briefing by the CMR (Civilian-Military Relations) personnel from the SAF and I think: someone lied. Someone said that the critical phase was over and that rebuilding will begin shortly. Someone didn't say anything about the smell; the heavy feeling in the air; the bright orange body bags that are still being filled when we arrived; the flags fluttering weakly in the breeze, each signifying a body found because of its smell, but, without heavy equipment, would remain buried underneath rubble, rotting; someone didn't see the bloated disfigured husks that used to be human being dragged out from under debris and torn vegetation, almost a month after the tsunamis changed the lives of these people forever.

Before we left the shoreline, we were told by someone from the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) that further along the coast from where we were, on a peninsula, were mass graves being dug in preparation for the bodies yet to be recovered. The latest one to be filled, had contained up to 5,000 bodies.


Meulaboh Town #3
Originally uploaded by Terz.


Looking at the town around us, we finally begin to understand the scale of what we're facing.

(To be continued)

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