Indonesia: Life after the tsunami

JANTHO, Indonesia - At Tzu Chi's temporary tent community in Jantho Indonesia, residents were forced to build a fence to keep out unwanted guests; guests with four legs. They are actually livestock owned by some of the residents in the tent community. Unfortunately, the livestock created a sanitation problem at this temporary shelter. Meanwhile, Tzu Chi is preparing to build a permanent community, called Great Love Village, for tsunami victims just 14 kilometers east of Aceh. Besides housing, this future community, like all other Tzu Chi Great Love Villages, will have a school, a prayer hall of the local religion, and a free clinic center.

One of the Tzu Chi volunteers, Rozak, expressed that "Many tent residents have domesticated animals, including water buffalos. Their urine and feces often get into our tents. Not only that, they also eat the vegetables that these people have planted."

Even though the tents are temporary housing, residents treasure them like their real homes. To protect themselves from the free-roaming animals, residents have been searching for lumber in the woods to build a fence with. Tzu Chi volunteers, concerned about the potential health threats caused by the free-roaming animals, began sanitizing the entire tent community by spraying the area twice a month.

Moving to the Tzu Chi shelter

In Baiturrahman, Indonesia, residents have been loading their belongings into the tents provided by Tzu Chi Foundation. Samsul Bahri is a former tricycle taxi driver. He lived in a refugee center with his family of nine after the tsunami disaster. Recently, Samsul's family moved along with several other tsunami victims to Tzu Chi's tent community in Jantho. When Samsul and his family arrived at the community, they were given three tents to live in, which provided much-needed room and comfort for this family of nine. Since moving into their new shelter, Samsul's family has been using the opportunity to improve their future. Tzu Chi volunteers have been helping them however they can, hoping they can have a better tomorrow.

Building a Great Love Village

Tzu Chi's Indonesia branch has helped local residents with recovery efforts since the tsunami struck. In order to provide permanent housing for those left homeless, Tzu Chi volunteers searched high and low to find land to build a Great Love Village. After searching for several months, they found a location in Neuhen Village in Mesjid Raya County, 14 kilometers east of Aceh. After securing a location, Tzu Chi volunteers in Medan immediately began surveying the land.

The Great Love Village will provide more than housing for its residents. Construction plans also include Muslim prayer halls, a free clinic and other public facilities. Covering an area of 100 hectares, it is hoped the Great Love village will offer more than just another home for those recovering from this tragic disaster. The goal is to restore life to normal for the tsunami victims.

Peace in the Koran

Benny, a 12 year-old tsunami victim, is attending a class specially designed for the children in the tent community. In order to create a better learning environment, everyone helps clean the makeshift "classroom" before each lecture. Reading the Koran is one of the many activities that children do here. Other activities include creating positive relationships with each other, which is especially important in these trying times.

Sulaeman is a Koran teacher who lived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. His house was destroyed by the tsunami. Luckily, he and his family survived the disaster. Now they all live in the Tzu Chi shelter. When Sulaeman saw that children had nothing to do, he decided to set up a Koran class for them. Sulaeman expressed "When I saw children running around doing nothing, I decided to invite all the parents to do something about it. A Koran reading class can keep the children busy for a while."

Benny was swept for several meters by the tsunami. Although the tsunami spared his life, it took away his beloved father. He expressed "I will always remember the tsunami and now, I am just afraid of the wave."

By reading the Koran everyday, it could help children deal with painful memories and find some peace. Most of the residents share the same fate of having lost their loved ones. But life goes on and a strong faith may be the foundation to start over again.

Facing challenge with courage

Every morning, a group of students gather in front of Tzu Chi's tent community and set off for the Seventh Elementary School.Rain or shine, the children remain undeterred. Laughter could be heard as they walked to school two kilometers away. The long walk doesn't wear them out one bit. In fact, they usually play soccer for a little while before class begins.

Since the completion of Tzu Chi's tent community, the number of students attending the Seventh Elementary School has been increasing steadily. Of the 250 students, half of them lost their homes in the recent tsunami.

Edi is one of the many children who lost his home and family to the tsunami. He recently moved into the Tzu Chi tent community with his relatives. Although the move meant Edi would have to walk farther to school, Edi didn't mind.

Edi lost most of his clothes to the tsunami. Edi can only attend school wearing whatever he has left. Instead of being embarrassed by his worn-out clothing, Edi remains eager to learn and attend school.

Edi expressed that "I lost two boy scout uniforms and three school uniforms to the tsunami." But rather than dwelling in sorrow and self-pity, Edi decided to face his new future with a positive attitude. His courage and wisdom has set an example for others to follow.


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