5 February 2005: Eddie
Our efforts here are becoming more and more tied into other government
and NGO projects, people and officials... just getting out to restricted areas
that have been rebel separatists strong holds for the last couple of years
requires a police permit, and these are only being given out to legitimate
relief organizations. Sunday morning I am meeting with the Minister of
Peoples Affairs, Professor Alwi Shihab, who will first and foremost ask me
who I am with before he gives me any information on how to identify village
Sea Commanders. So, Aaron, the main man on our team who has been
laid up in Jakarta recovering from a hernia operation - pulled in transit while
hauling around 30 water filtration systems - has been at work drawing up our
own organization. He has been working with contacts back state-side to
develop a web site, and just yesterday delivered to us here in Banda Aceh
business cards and letter-head stationary. We are now: Austin International
Rescue & Relief Operations, AIRO! We got a real kick out of creating it all
and it certainly has lifted our spirits quite a bit. Unfortunately the business
cards do not come with a salary, so, I am hanging on to my day job and will
be back as planned, at work by March 1. In short, the org is just to give us
more legitimacy in the trenches here.
Since many have asked how they can contribute, we have included in the
web site the means for individuals to help off-set our out of pocket expenses.
This does continue to be 100% self-funded operation, and on top of that, I
am also giving up a month's worth of paid leave. In that we are not
incorporated, nor have we formalized ourselves into a 501(c)3 non-profit,
contributions are NOT tax deductible. They are just the same very much
appreciated, should anyone feel so inclined.
I am ok receiving emails at my current firstname.lastname@example.org address as we
have gotten email going from our office and it is far less cumbersome.
Email me anytime (please), just do it one on one to me and try to keep me off
any mass distribution lists serves.
More Work Detail News...
Otherwise, all is well. We will spend the weekend trying to piece together the
hierarchical authority structures currently in place around the fishing villages
so that when we go to deliver fishing boats, we are assured to be handing
them off to the appropriate leaders, elders, or what they call Village Sea
Commanders. Aceh had been home to around 63,000 fishermen, but some
15,000 of them died in the disaster! According to Muhammad Adli Abdullah,
the head of the province's sea commanders, there were 173 sea
commanders in Aceh before the tsunami hit. But in the disaster, 41 of them
died, mostly those living in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar. While the
government wants to resettle the fisherman to higher areas that were spared
the catastrophe, the fishing families strongly prefer to return and rebuild and
go back to what they know... fishing. Our hope is to afford them some means
of doing just that.
Love to all,
Eddie in Aceh