Indonesia: Single parents supported in post-tsunami Aceh

from World Vision
Published on 22 Dec 2005
Survivors of last year's tsunami included many parents who had lost a spouse, leaving many widows and widowers with the responsibility of caring for their children on their own.

To address this problem, a Single Parents workshop for tsunami widows and widowers was organised by World Vision recently in the Lhoong district of Aceh, Indonesia.

For survivors, the tsunami disaster has had a tremendous impact on the basic unit of society -- the family structure. There are many families that are now either headed by only one parent, or in the case where both parents died, have become child-headed-households.

"We decided to carry out this workshop because several surveys have shown that there is a high rate of single parent families in Banda Aceh post tsunami, and the impact of parenting alone is very stressful for both male and female. However for males in this culture it is more challenging," said World Vision Protection and Advocacy Manager, Patricio Cuevas-Parra.

He then continued: "One of our aims is to show them that everybody can be a great mother or father, despite the cultural conditioning that exist in most male-dominated societies. We have the conviction that the stability and quality of role models are more important than the gender."

Several issues are covered in these workshops, such as good parenting, children's rights, single parents' duties according to Islamic law, and economic development for single parents.

Abdullah, 38, a tsunami widower who lives with his 12-year-old son, attended the workshop looking for solutions to his new situation. Abdullah plans to remarry yet he is thinking of his son.

"I have lost my everything, including my wife and son, and now I have to raise my son alone. This workshop is really helpful for me to know what my child needs and how to build good communication with him," he said.

Patricio Cuevas-Parra continued, "Single parents need to learn how they can deal with the special needs of raising children alone. Also with this training, we are seeking to benefit children, because when we build positive roles for single parents, that also means that we are providing a safer, more loving and caring environment for children."

He added that besides the plan for follow-up training, the team is also planning to hold the workshop every month in each of World Vision's program areas.