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Asia

German Red Cross Completes Aceh Project

The German Red Cross has completed its biggest re-construction project in Indonesia's Aceh province after the December 2004 tsunami left a trail of destruction. In co-operation with the Indonesian Red Cross almost 1,500 houses, several health care centres and more than 30 schools have been constructed.

Acehnese men building a new house in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Acehnese men building a new house in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

The pupils of the newly built high school in Sabang are greeting the German guests by singing the national anthem of Germany. Sabang is in the centre of the Indonesian island of Pulau Weh, just a few kilometres away from Banda Aceh -- capitol of the Aceh province in Western Sumatra.

The high school in Sabang is one of 30 schools which have been re-built by the German Red Cross after the 2004 tsunami devastated the town. The old school was situated just 150 metres away from the beach when the giant waves destroyed the building.

All the construction work has been carried out by local builders, even the classroom furniture was build locally, as Azhari Ilyas, the project co-coordinator recalls: "We employed local workers, who had lost their work after the tsunami. We trained them as carpenters and the materials we used to rebuild the classrooms were flotsam which the waves left behind. Many of the desks and chairs may earlier have been doors or doorframes."

Haunting memories

Besides the presence everywhere of material which the tsunami left behind which has since been reused, regular emergency drills keep the memory of the catastrophe alive. The Indonesian Red Cross trains teachers and pupils how to react to a major natural disaster. Mutiara, one of the pupils, explains the drill: "We learn what to do in case of a disaster, for example what we should do when people are injured."

In Banda Aceh pupils of a primary school rebuilt by the German Red Cross are participating in an earthquake drill. The drill starts in the classroom when the teacher shouts: Quake! Quake! All pupils hide under their desks. Once the quake stops all pupils line up and leave the classroom under the guidance of their teacher. Books and bags are carried above the head to protect against falling debris.

The teacher takes a last look at the classroom to see whether anyone has been left behind or was injured. Within a few minutes the drill is over and the children start playing in the school yard. Most of them feel prepared for an emergency, but the older children -- who still remember the tsunami -- are wary.

Hopes for the future

Perhaps they feel like Mutiara, the high school student in Sabang: "We now all know what to do but none of us wants to experience the tsunami again."

Hopefully this generation will be spared from another disaster in their lifetime.

  • Date 22.10.2008
  • Author Ziphora Robina (tgb) 22/10/08
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  • Date 22.10.2008
  • Author Ziphora Robina (tgb) 22/10/08
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsAz