Indonesia: Handicrafts business brings hope and new enterprise to Aceh community

News and Press Release
Originally published
Dedek Syahrizal, 40, is the owner of Jaroe handicraft shop in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. His business is booming once again, five years after the tsunami destroyed everything he owned.

Dedek now works with 53 locals and his goods appear at expos around the country. Dedek combines traditional Acehnese patterns with modern designs, transforming them into beautiful embroidered wallets, purses, sandals or handbags.

He started his handicrafts business in 1986 and once employed more than 200 people. He even exported his products to Brazil, Australia, Malaysia and the Middle East. He was about to expand his shop right before the 2004 tsunami flattened his home and production facilities. Eight of his family members died, including his mother and sisters. Some of his staff were also killed.

It was World Vision that provided him with support post-tsunami. He received assistance to restart his business which has reinvented itself as a cooperative enterprise. "With the new machine from World Vision, I taught people how to sew."

"I used the machine to train the people in barracks (transitional shelters). For those who were willing to learn, I provided lunch for free. That was the first time I returned back to the embroidery business (after the tsunami). At first we started with seven people."

Dedek was motivated to improve his business, which also became the main source of income for his cooperative members. "I learned that many organizations were willing to help Aceh. I started to be proactive in seeking support, to create programs, and research."

He did not stop there. Dedek contacted some organizations to support his group with equipment, trainings, and facilities. In 2007, the cooperative had at least 170 members from 46 villages in Aceh province.

This year, Dedek becomes one of four candidates across Indonesia to receive the Upakarti Award, the President's most-prestigious award in appreciation for those who have served and brought an impact on society.

Dedek is excited about developing Aceh. "To develop Aceh, we should have our own production. Currently we still lack the entrepreneurship skills. We even have to get the eggs or tomatoes from Medan (the neighboring province of North Sumatra)," he said.

"We should live to bring benefit to other people," he said, "by teaching and sharing others our knowledge so that they (the tsunami survivors) could work and get an income."

"Ninety nine percent of my employees are mothers. Through this job, they can send their children to school; they could have a TV and motorbike. That is the biggest satisfaction that I get," he said.

World Vision's tsunami relief projects are now complete. Through a new "Aceh Development Programme", World Vision is now implementing a range of programmes focused on livelihoods, health and education. Disaster Risk Reduction activities are underway in 20 villages, including identifying risks, vulnerabilities and community capacity in responding to disasters, forming of village teams, mitigation training, facilitating the development of a disaster action plan, community awareness-raising and teaching materials for primary schools. On the island of Nias, which was devastated by a strong earthquake shortly after the tsunami, World Vision is now operating two Area Development Programmes with more than 4,000 sponsored children.