22 February 2005 - Eric

While waiting for boat building materials to arrive in Krueng Raya, I have spent
most of the last few days doing mostly nothing but spending time with the
Acehnese. Walking the streets, learning the language, dodging the motorcycles,
smoking Sam Soe’s, buying fruit from the vendors calling mister, how are you?,
waving. And if I had a horn on my backpack you can bet I’d be honking it. They
seem united in teaching me perfect Indonesian and its Acehnese equivalent
within the next month or so.

Spending a week in Jakarta before getting here was enough to help me recognize
they are different. The Acehnese are strong, proud of their culture, their coffee,
proud to speak their Acehnese, polite enough to translate it. The more I get to
know them the more I realize that only now could I begin to grieve with them.

20 February 2005 - Eric

Yesterday, we walked tired, having been awakened by earthquakes several nights
running. Earthquakes are common here but locals say they have increased in
magnitude and frequency since the tsunami. Our living at one end of the third floor
with narrow exit at the other makes it an ordeal when we charge down the narrow
stairwell half asleep. This reinforced concrete building made it through a nine-O,
so unless god falls asleep on the repent button I am sure it will continue to survive
medium quakes regularly. Still.

While Aaron and Eddie spent yesterday preparing final reports of Livelihood
Recovery in Fishing Boat Construction, I met with Tarsis Kodrat, Koordinator
Hublu/Instansi at the Pendopo. The Department of Immigrasi sent me to him to
get a letter recommending the extension of my visa. He is a very gracious and kind
man whom Aaron, Eddie and I spoke to a week or two ago while researching the
fishing industry in Aceh. Among many topics, we discussed wanting an easier
way to renew visas so we could keep working without leaving the country every
thirty days. He mentioned how there was something different about Americans
who had traveled. He told us of a journalist who recently walked into the Media
Center here and broke up a half dozen conversations by asking loudly, “Does
anyone here speak English?”

Pak Tarsis asked me to hand write a request for my visa’s extension. He took it
and then swung around his own laptop and asked me to review and edit a letter
he was writing to the UN. They were beginning a new visa extension program and
asking the UN to please have their people and those working under them get
special ID’s from the Pendopo and to display them properly while doing volunteer
work in Aceh. I was the first volunteer in Aceh to receive this special ID showing
my visa status. Pak Tarsis said he would include a copy of my written request with
his directional letter as a model for the UN. Though it was mostly through random
timing that I did these things, I found it ironic but fitting that I edited letters aimed at
streamlining the visa renewal process for an agency we’ve thought a little
cumbersome for our particular goals.

Yet, streamlining the process to get things done is consistent with the spirit of our
work, and really, the limited time available to us demanded it. The arrow in AIRO’s
logo means and the mindset of us three is; do what is needed and get it right the
first time for everyone. Because of this we have local craftsmen building boats in
Krueng Raya while the news trickling out of the media is that Aceh’s fishing
industry needs rebuilding. This project was partly possible because of the village
structure in Aceh. Our going forward with the project is with trust in the local
leaders who have given us every reason to believe they will be fair.

Aaron and Eddie are on the plane headed to Medan, Jakarta, then home. They
made sacrifices much greater than mine in order to travel here and did not want to
leave. But I am sure they have an incredible satisfaction knowing that our
successes were worth that sacrifice and the hard work enduring the many
obstacles thrown at us. This morning Aaron and Eddie bid farewell to a special
family that felt the same way. “Thanks for helping the people of Aceh,” they’ve said,
“maybe some day we can help you in return.”
Journal Entries - Click to
Read:

16 April 2006 - Eddie

22 January 2006 - Eric

27 September 2005 - Eric

6 September 2005 - Eddie

1 August 2005 - Eddie

28 July 2005 - Eddie

4 July 2005 - Aaron

16 June 2005 - Aaron

19 May 2005 – Eric

18 May 2005 - Aaron

24 April 2005 – Aaron

14 April 2005 – Eric

29 March 2005 – Eric

28 March 2005 - IM-Aaron/Eric

26 March 2005 – Eric

25 March 2005 – Eric

15 March 2005 – Aaron

16 March 2005 – Eric

11 March 2005 – Eric

3 March 2005 – Eric

27 February 2005 – Eric

23 February 2005 – Aaron

23 February 2005 – Eric

20-22 February 2005 – Eric

18 February 2005 – Eddie

18 February 2005 – Eric

16 February 2005 – Eddie

10-12 February 2005 – Eric

12 February 2005 – Eddie

11 February 2005 – Aaron

10 February 2005 – Eddie

9 February 2005 – Eddie

7 February 2005 – Eddie

5 February 2005 – Eddie

5 February 2005 – Part 2 –
Eddie

4 February 2005 – Eddie

2 February 2005 – Aaron

1 February 2005 – Eddie

30 January 2005 – Eric
Journal Entries
Journal Entries