terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Meulaboh, Part 11


Day 3 Actual
In the morning after we step off the FCU, we gather for a quick meeting at our usual corner of the landing point. Samuel's debrief for the previous day had gone on late into the night and he didn't come back to the Mess till after even I had gone to sleep.

It's one hour before the vehicle arrives to take us to the school. Scuttlebutt has it that today would our last day. The SAF's work in Aceh is nearly done and we are to leave as soon as they're ready to pull out. Samuel tells us to expect another group of volunteers to come to our school in the mid-afternoon: the hand over ceremony by the Singapore Red Cross to their Indonesian counterparts is taking place in the morning at one of the DPCs (Displaced People Centres) and by 3 in the afternoon, there will be nothing for the other two groups to do.

We feel our proprietary instincts kick in, along with some sense of violated propriety, and are outraged. We protest loudly, though we know that there is nothing that Samuel can do about it. After a while, all protestations cease and we get down to deciding what would be most meaningful to us, and Pak Ali, to complete before the other group arrived. One priority is the sighboard of the school, toppled over from its concrete base by the force of the tsunamis. Everything else, we would share.


We also decide to bring along more cartons of bottled water for the people in the neighbourhood, using the school as a distribution point. Since the SAF is pulling out, it seems appropriate that we give of a part of the massive supply of bottled water to the people who would need it most than to leave it in the depot, for who knows what purpose.

As we arrive, we notice that the TNI has turned up in full force today. They are next door in the orphanage, clearing up the mess and removing bodies from the heaped mud. Also on site were Dr Fatimah and rest of the medical team sent by Mercy Relief. We take her on a tour and introduce her to Pak Ali: the first step to getting more help for the school and to ensure that people don't soon forget about it or the people of Meulaboh.

Meulaboh, Day 3 #1
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Meulaboh, Day 3 #2
Originally uploaded by Terz.

We muck about for a bit, clearing up more of the courtyard and the mud in the front of the school, then restore the signboard of the school to its proud, rightful place. The second one, though, the one smashed in by the boat, is unrecoverable. Pak Ali tells us that the signboard would cost the school about the equivalent of SGD200 to replace.

Meulaboh, Day 3 #3
Originally uploaded by Terz.

We take note of that.

(To be continued)



  • At 12:19 PM, February 20, 2005, Blogger Pooh said…

    I was very moved by your blog. Your pictures are also very poignant. One can almost feel the heavy hearts and sadness of Meulaboh.

    You are braver than most S'poreans will ever be. While most of us just gave money and supplies, you gave of your time and soul to help these people.

    I salute you.


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