Thursday, 24 July 2008

Opening our eyes

We are about 25 miles down the west coast of northern
Sumatra. We are doing short hops into little bays as the
wind is howling and right where we want to go. This is the
area most affected by the tsunami in 2004, now four years on
we see still the destruction and the rebuilding. We anchored
in a small lagoon of Seudu and were welcomed with open arms
by the fisherman and their families.
Moonwalker became a meeting place and a focal point as they
all had incredibly built catamaran fishing platforms
themselves and about the same size. Equipped with our indo
dictionary we spent many hours sitting with groups of guys
on board, drinking tea, just talking. I think the most
incredible thing so far was when one of the group asked us
if the people in New Zealand knew that they had a tsunami
here a few years ago. They wanted the world to know they
were still here and they talked to us openly about the wave.
We assured them that all the world knew about Aceh and the
people here. There were some very sad moments on the boat as
they showed us where the wave came from, how it washed
around the semi-circular hillside, whitewater and rocks 80
to 100ft high. It took the entire village, even the asphalt
from the street , the complete fishing fleet, most of the
families and washed it all into a whirlpool in the middle of
the lagoon where we are now anchored.
International aid is evident everywhere. They supply the
materials and management, locals are rebuilding. For example
Singapore Red cross donated timber to Seudu village to build
5 new catamaran fishing platforms, the last one just being
completed and anchored in front of us. Oxfam built 50 new
houses for the 724 residents left and roading funded by US
AID continues. A massive job that I would not have believed,
if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
I think the village was happy we came and as always we wish
we could carry more and do more. Maybe having everyone on
board just to take their minds off everything else, share a
coffee for an hour or two was a start.


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