There is now a new integrated boarding school in Banda Aceh, thanks to the generous donations that Singaporeans made in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami.
A collaboration between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and Yayasan Fajar Hidayah (YFH), the Fajar Hidayah Integrated Boarding School (FHIBS) was constructed at a cost of S$5.3 million, funded mostly from the Tidal Waves Asia Fund (TWAF), which is managed by the Tsunami Reconstruction Facilitation Committee (TRFC), headed by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC). About S$5 million came from TWAF while SIF contributed almost S$400,000 from its Tsunami Affected Communities Fund, which was also raised through donations from individuals and companies in Singapore.
The land occupied by the school was jointly contributed by the Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and YFH, while the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) provided administrative support.
The new School is a vast improvement from the tents and barracks that some of the Acehnese children used to stay in, in the immediate period after the tsunami took their homes and families. It provides more stability than the temporary rooms at the Madrasah Ulumul Quran (a local Islamic boarding school) that they occupied between January 2005 and March 2007.
Stretching across 2.1 hectares of land, the new School is located five minutes from the Blang Bintang airport. It can provide schooling and housing for 600 boarding students; in addition, it can provide day schooling for another 600 students aged from 6 to 18 years . There are seven buildings - dormitories for students and teachers, a classroom building, a training centre, information and resource centre, an office and a multi-purpose hall/canteen. The School is strategically located within an area earmarked by the BRR for development as an education hub for the districts of Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar.
The Fajar Hidayah Integrated Boarding School was jointly opened on 6 November 2007 by Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. George Yeo and Indonesia's Minister of Education, Prof. Dr. Bambang Soedibyo, and witnessed by the Governor of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Dr. Irwandi Yusuf. To mark the spirit of friendship and cooperation between the people of Singapore and Indonesia in this project, the classroom building within the School has been named 'Singapore-Aceh Learning Hub'.
YFH's founder Hj. Draga Rangkuti recounts, "I will always remember the excitement and joy on the children's faces when they first moved into the School, knowing that this is a place they can count on staying in for the rest of their growing up years. For the children, the School represents more than physical security. It also gives them more confidence about the future. We are very grateful for the kind donations from the people of Singapore in helping to provide these Acehnese children with a home to call their own."
SIF's former Chairman Barry Desker, explains the significance of this project, "The Fajar Hidayah Integrated Boarding School is the largest project SIF has carried out in its post-tsunami work, in terms of both budget and scale. SIF could not have done this without the generous donations from the Singapore public through Tidal Waves Asia Fund, as well as the commitment of its volunteers, partners and staff. I hope the School will, in some small way, contribute to the rehabilitation of the community in Aceh."