To mark the ten-year anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, Islamic Relief attended a three-day expo organised by the Government of Aceh.
The event, which had a theme of Reflection-Appreciation-Awakening, was attended by high ranking government officials, diplomats, and representatives of the aid agencies who responded to the disaster.
Islamic Relief, one of the first to respond to the disaster and amongst the few to still work in the area, was awarded with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Governor of Aceh.
The expo began with a prayer ceremony led by the Vice President of Indonesia, Mr Yusu Kalla. Scenes from the tsunami were on display in the background, and brought tears to the eyes of the participants.
Syed Abdul Razak, country director of Islamic Relief Indonesia, said: “It took us back in time to when the disaster actually hit Aceh. We saw people running for their lives while looking for their nearest and dearest.
“We also saw a man carrying three little children on his shoulders looking for high ground while braving the ruthless waves. This was too painful and most of us burst into tears.”
After the prayer ceremony, the Vice President visited the expo where UN and NGOs held their booths to showcase their work in post-tsunami Aceh. He took special interest in Islamic Relief’s work in rebuilding housing, healthcare and education infrastructure, and appreciated Islamic Relief’s continued support for tsunami orphans.
Syed Abdul Razak added: “We received the certificate of appreciation on the last day and were also honoured by the arrival of foreign diplomats including H.E Moazzam Malik, the British Ambassador to Indonesia, Timor Leste and ASEAN. Mr Malik highly appreciated Islamic Relief’s work while also lauding the agency’s efforts to continue supporting the tsunami victims.
“There are obvious results from a massive reconstruction effort but a lot more needs to be done. If you take a quick tour of the affected areas, you would be impressed by the quality of transport, healthcare and education infrastructure. Improved roads network provides better access to markets but this would be more beneficial if smallholder farmers had surplus produce to sell.
“Similarly, the dilapidated school buildings have been replaced by earthquake resistant structures. Children, however, need better learning material and most importantly, their parents need adequate resources so that their children remain enrolled in schools and eventually pursue higher education.”
Islamic Relief continues to work in Indonesia. In the last three years, our projects have included school-based disaster preparedness, a mushroom cultivation project, and sustainable agricultural farming and seas fisheries activities.