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Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh
December 26th 2005
Published: December 26th 2005
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Proud owner of a new bicycleProud owner of a new bicycleProud owner of a new bicycle

IRC delivered bikes to children living in temporary barracks so they could travel to the closest school.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the tsunami. It's been an emotional time for many of our local staff, and there's been quite a few that have gotten sick the past couple of weeks. Some of our employees lost their entire families, some lost their parents and some are still living in temporary shelters (tents).

I've been here for 2 months but the scale and horror of the tsunami is still difficult to comprehend. When driving around, you can see enormous boats and other things that were carried inland by the waves but are too big to remove now. Every few kilometers there's a patch of land about the size of a basketball court with a fence around it and a sign that says "mass graves." In Calang, a coastal village the IRC works in, only 10% of the population survived.

Just some general facts: The earthquake that triggered the tsunami was between 9.1-9.3, one of the largest ever recorded. It lasted 10 minutes. The tsunami that followed was not one wave, but a succession of waves that continually came ashore for 1.5hrs. Friends say that the third large wave was the most powerful, carrying some of them for over a mile.

The recovery here is slow and complicated. Much of the land on the shoreline is now inhabitable, still flooded and marshlike and some just plain underwater. Property deeds were washed away as well as roads and other infrastructure necessary to undertake a massive rebuilding. There are over 200 aid agencies registered here, each one with a specific task as coordinated by the central rebuilding organizaion. Even if they had done everything right this past year, it wouldn't have been enough.

And yet, humans are amazingly resilient. Despite all the shortcomings, the people here are definitely getting on with their lives. Almost every weekend one of our staff members get married and there are nine staff weddings in January planned so far (engagements are sometimes only a few days, so there may be more). There is also a lot of optimism about the peace accord that was recently signed - possibly the one bit of good out of this entire disaster.

I would love to go on and tell you about how excited I am to be here at this time in Aceh, where there is so much change. But that will have to wait
Tents in the Middle of the CityTents in the Middle of the CityTents in the Middle of the City

The tents are located pretty much smack in the middle of the city, behind the main mosque. The people most likely lived in the 2-story houses that used to make up this neighborhood.
for another blog. For today, please keep the people of Aceh in your prayers.


Additional photos below
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Muhammad Thalal's WeddingMuhammad Thalal's Wedding
Muhammad Thalal's Wedding

The couple has to sit there all day on display, dressed up. Did I mention it's 90 degrees here all the time??
Erica, Jo and Muhammad Thalal's NeighborErica, Jo and Muhammad Thalal's Neighbor
Erica, Jo and Muhammad Thalal's Neighbor

Yes, posing where we shouldn't be.


27th December 2005

bridal gown
is that gold on the bride? if so does that signify a class distinction? very beautiful
27th December 2005

No hook-ups happening at this wedding
i'm still sketchy on the details of weddings/marriages here. this is actually the third ceremony this couple has had - the entire village came to this party..about 300 people. all guests eat/socialize separately (men from women). it was a very colorful and interesting event to attend. all the locals, women especially, were so welcoming and warm to me.
31st December 2005

Hey Erica! I can't believe you've had a blog all this time and I didn't know. Thanks so much for starting it so I can follow your fascinating experiences there. What a poignant picture of tragedy and triumph you've painted so far. I'll be sure to check in regularly and blog you in my next entry of Liquid Logic. Keep up the good work, darling.
6th January 2006

No class distiction at all
Hahaha..truly there was no true gold on the bride. We just use imitation golds which can be found easily and very-very cheap at the local market. All Acehnese(except people in six districts) use this kind of clothes for the wedding. Aceh Province consists of around eight ethnics which have different languages and cultures. I am a part of the biggest ethnic living which dominates Aceh Besar, Banda Aceh, the North Coast except a part of east Aceh, and along the west coast except half of south Aceh. People live in Simeulue island, Central Aceh, and districts in South-East Aceh really have their own cultures and languages.
7th January 2006

for Muhammad Thalal
thank you for your informative comment. Real gold or not you both look wonderful and your bride is very beautiful. i send you congratulations and wishes for a happy life together.

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