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Volume 9, No. 2FALL 2006

Indonesia’s Unexpected Tsunami Benefits

Nias Island, Indonesia (IOCC) — Villagers of the northern Sumatra island of Nias, who endured the 2004 tsunami and a major earthquake the following March, enjoyed a day of celebration on July 18 at the dedication of the first new clinic to open in the devastated community. It was an especially gratifying day for Father Chrysostomos P. Manalu, an Indonesian Orthodox priest who has spearheaded the building of the clinic under His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and in cooperation with IOCC and the Orthodox Church of Indonesia.

Along with supporting the building of the clinic, IOCC shipped $325,400 of new medical supplies and equipment. Part of IOCC’s Phase Two development work in Indonesia, the clinic is just one example of how far the multiple projects that are being sponsored by IOCC on Nias have come in just one year.

Photo: Dirk Van Gorp, IOCC-Indonesia

In the Nias communities of Tugala and Desa Fodoro, IOCC’s partnership with Church World Service (CWS) to support an integrated village recovery program also came to fruition this summer. The program will eventually build 100 new homes, half of which are funded by IOCC, and has installed water supply systems and sanitation facilities. The houses, which were designed with input from the villagers, are made with reinforced vertical concrete columns to guard against future earthquakes. Each home employs about 3-4 villagers as construction laborers. “Some organizations have a ‘build and leave’ approach,” says IOCC’s Dirk Van Gorp. “What sets this program apart is that it is a participatory community-based integrated approach that provides for all aspects of village life — homes, livelihood, infrastructure and the psycho-social needs of children.”

Just across from housing settlements are farming cooperatives that employ about 75 people working 2 hectars of land. Farmers grow kasabo, pole beans, maze and peanuts. In partnership with CWS, IOCC provided farmers with tools, materials, equipment and training. An IOCC donation of $30,000 in seeds is planned for the future. “In the past, most Nias farmers had very limited means, growing only rubber and cocoa,” said Leo Sambo, Team Leader for CWS in Nias. Farmer Amir Saleh Hia expressed his appreciation to visiting IOCC staff: “Before we were fishermen, but now we are learning a new skill of farming along with fishing in order to be able to support our families ... Now, can you give us some advice on growing watermelon?”

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