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Tsunami relief aid finished in Indonesia

Walking through the crowded city center of Bireuen Indonesia Ron Taylor and Elder Jim Greding were greeted over and over again by locals who echoed similar sentiment: Thanks mister! they said.
Karlina sits outside Church-constructed home with son Saimuddin who was born the day before the tsunami devastated their country.
They knew we werent there on vacation…. It is a very remote place on the earth said Brother Taylor. They knew the only reason we were there was to help in some way. Even though they didnt know who we represented they wanted to express their appreciation.
Brother Taylor of LDS Philanthropies —the organization that coordinates encourages and facilitates donations to the Church and its various educational and service institutions — was in Indonesia to document the Churchs post-tsunami humanitarian efforts. Elder Greding a Church service missionary had coordinated the last of the Latter-day Saint-funded projects.
The Church went to work in the region after a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 220000 people in a dozen nations including Sri Lanka Indonesia Thailand and India. The disaster also set into motion what the United Nations has called the worlds biggest-ever relief operation.
After offering emergency response LDS Humanitarian Services began working with community-based organizations to provide longer-term aid and development.
The Churchs work in the area is one of the organizations most momentous humanitarian efforts to date — fueled by the donations of Church members and others and marking the first time the organization has offered such long-term assistance after a disaster.
In December 2007 three years after the disaster struck Dec. 26 2004 Church Humanitarian Services completed their projects.
In a working partnership with other major international humanitarian organizations — including Islamic Relief Worldwide the International Organization for Migration the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and International Relief and Development — the Church constructed homes schools health clinics and water and sanitation systems in Indonesia.
Bill Reynolds Church director of tsunami operations along with Elder Greding and his wife Karen and Church-service missionaries Bill and Linda Hamm oversaw much of the Churchs work in the tsunami-devastated region.
Photo RonTaylor/LDS PhilanthropiesA mural on a wall in Indonesia stands today as a reminder of the Dec. 26 2004 disaster that killed more than 220000 people in a dozen nations and set into motion a three-year Church humanitarian effort.
The money that was donated and the organizations that were chosen to help oversee the spending of that money or the construction were chosen wisely and chosen well and we feel very good about what we got for the money that was spent in helping and we feel really proud to have been just a small part of this rebuilding process said Elder Greding voicing a sentiment shared by all involved.
Major Church projects included:
• The construction of 15 schools including the training of new teachers.
• The building of 902 homes. The homes were furnished with a starter kit which included one mattress six plates six glasses 12 spoons one wok and one stove.
• The construction of three community centers.
• The construction of three health clinics and a wing of an existing hospital. Each was fully equipped and doctors and medical staff were trained.
• The completion of 24 village water projects reaching 20000 people.
• The restoration of shrimp and rice farms.
• The building of large and small fishing boats.
• The purchase of sewing machines looms and other self-employment equipment.
The longer-term aid and development in Indonesia followed numerous emergency response efforts including:
• 50 pallets/medical modules.
• 20 pallets/first aid supplies.
• 4 pallets of shoes.
• 345 bales of clothing.
• Food water hand-held communications equipment and a wide range of other supplies and aid.
Photo Ron TaylorElder Jim Greding shakes hands with Adbul Samad who survived tsunami by fleeing on a motorcycle.
Touring the devastated areas in Indonesia Brother Taylor viewed many of the Church projects and talked to the people who were being helped. Many he said were willing to share what they have — mostly what they could grow. We were offered more watermelons than we could eat along with coconut juice and papaya. They genuinely appreciate their new homes and the centers. Many I met moved into their homes in August or September of 2007. Yet they have already planted flowers around the house made curtains to hang in the house cleaned the yard built fences and in general done much to make the home uniquely theirs.
During his trip Brother Taylor talked to numerous people who expressed appreciation for the Church and its humanitarian efforts in Indonesia.
Mohamed Johan a community and religious leader in Calong said his people feel blessed to have their new community center built with Latter-day Saint funds. It is a fine place where they can all meet together he said. It is a place we can pray. It is a place where we can teach the children. It is very useful and will help keep the community together.
Kamaruzzaman (many in Indonesia use only one name) head of the Min Lamteungoh school a Church-constructed school that was built around a Mosque said the building will help students left without hope after many of the classmates and teachers died in the tsunami.
We did not think we would ever have a school this nice he said. They have been going to a temporary building for the schooling; a community hall…. The students now have a better school; more helpful to learning. They now have a more hopeful future.
Health clinics are also making a difference. Before the tsunami the community of Ulee Kareung in the Bireuen district had a small but important health clinic that was destroyed. Since the tsunami the community members had to walk 15 kilometers to receive medical assistance. Because of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed most of the roads and bridges along the coast were severely damaged or destroyed. And because it was difficult to travel anywhere outside the community for anything — the people have struggled for three years.
On behalf of the people in our community many many thanks said community chairman Syarman. God bless you for your help in restoring this service for our use. This is much needed. Our people will be able to get needed medical assistance near their home.
Woman stands outside house constructed with humanitarian funds.
Bireuen mayor Nurdin Abdul Rahman expressed appreciation for the medical centers as well as Church-donated water projects in the area. He said he hopes that this opportunity to work together will help build a bridge of friendship between our two cultures.
Fauziah a woman in the Bireuen District said before the water projects it was hard to get good water and it took a long time to get what there was of it. Now our children will be more healthy and have a better future she said.
Sukardi and his wife Rukiah also found a better future thanks to Church efforts. Sukardi survived the tsunami by climbing to the top of a coconut tree. Their land was lost to the ocean after the disaster. Like others who experienced the tsunami he said it sounded like a large jet plane flying close to the ground.
We thought it was the end of the world Sukardi said. It was unbelievable. Now we start over. But we are alive and we are together and we are happy. We are most grateful for our new home. We thank LDS people for their kindness.
Abdelgadir Galal Ahmed program manager for Islamic Relief said that the partnership with the Church to provide relief in Indonesia was a great experience. The Church he said compared to other projects holds to high standards and good quality work. They have stayed involved from the beginning to the end to ensure their money is used wisely as it was intended.
Photo by Brett BassChurch-service missionaries Bill and Linda Hamm oversee unloading of fishing nets as part of Churchs livelihood restoration efforts.
Even after three years reminders of the tsunami are everywhere. A hand-painted mural on a city wall depicts the disaster. Washed-out roads and bridges have not been re-built. Swamps are left where homes and farms once stood. A rusted ship still stands inland where the giant wave left it. You can read about it or you can hear about it but unless youre there yourself and actually see it with your eyes and feel it with your heart its impossible to be touched as much as we have been touched over the last year and a half that weve been associated with this project said Elder Greding. Ive made the comment to my friends at home that my eyes have seen and my hearts felt things that Ill never be able to describe in words because I just dont have the ability or capacity to share the things that weve felt and the things that weve seen.
Photo by Ron TaylorAfter living in hastily erected temporary barracks with many others in her village for more than two years Syamsidar of Meulaboh Indonesia now has a new home built by Church Humanitarian Services. Three years after a tsunami devastated southeast Asia Dec. 26 2004 the LDS Church has completed humanitarian efforts in the area.
E-mail to: sarah@desnews.com

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