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Published: November 8th 2005
OK, this is where things get REALLY interesting. My primary reason for coming to Aceh was to find some volunteer relief work to help people who were affected by the tsunami. It has been quite an adventure. I will be putting daily updates to cover everything, if you're still interested!
After getting off my flight from KL, I easily enough caught an overnight bus to Banda Aceh.
Arriving in Banda Aceh was one of most challenging parts of my trip so far. The section in the Lonely Planet or Aceh is rather concise, plus I really wanted to find some volunteer work.
After finding my basic bearings and some very basic accommodation, I went for a walk around the city.
The part of the city that I'd arrived in, and that I was staying weren't heavily damaged by the Tsunami, although a couple of buildings around my hotel were in various stages of collapse.
As i walked around the wastelands I began to see the extent of the damage. Washed out ruins, baron foundations, bent concrete pillars, boats on buildings, people living in tents, small shacks built out of the rumble.
I expected to feel more emotion seeing all
This veiw stretches for kilometers
the devastation. Maybe I have been conditioned, by the television coverage, by the state of dis-repair of most Indonesian towns, by the flood damage in Bukit Lawang.
Or maybe it was because the people were so friendly. Most people smiled at me, or greeted me, and welcomed me to join them, so they could share what little English they knew. Their warm outshone the physical damage to their city.
I exhausted all of the contacts I had for volunteer work, but to no avail. So what did I do? I went and knocked on the door of the Red Cross and asked for a job. This was one of the hardest things that I've done in a long time. I think it was because I was in a totally unfamiliar environment, out of my profession and totally out of my comfort zone. Also i haven't really had to ask for a job for over five years.
I ended up talking to a Kiwi guy, who was in charge of the building projects, who said he might have something for me. I also spoke to the IT Department, and they thought they might be able to use me. I haven't
heard anything definite yet, but things look promising!
Before I left I got a security briefing from another kiwi guy. The basic dos and don'ts for a conservative Muslim area, pretty much common sense. But it was interesting to hear about Red Cross Policy: Midnight Curfew. If you become involved with a local you have to marry them!
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