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Work continues in Southeast Asia

Woven into Indonesias landscapes are powerful reminders of the tsunami that devastated the area 17 months ago.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsChurch members gather outside Banda Aceh Indonesia at construction yard where concrete panels for houses are manufactured. From left tsunami director William Reynolds; Elder Subandriyo Area Seventy; Ron Felt project contractor; Sutarno local contractor; and Hendro and Bertha Indonesia public affairs discuss Church project.
In a neighborhood of Banda Aceh — about a half a mile from the ocean — a large fishing boat sits atop a home. On the east coast of Aceh Province a grandmother and granddaughter stand near remains of what was once their home; the shells of neighbors homes are not far away. Miles after miles of the countrys coast still reveal empty foundations where villages once stood.
For months after the tsunami the coast around Banda Aceh was like a barren wasteland said William Reynolds director of Church tsunami relief. Today he said most of the debris has been cleaned up and grass and plants are growing again. But there is still evidence of the destructive force that changed this and other nations of Southeast Asia on Dec. 26 2004.
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.
More than a year after that relief effort began the Church is still there. After offering emergency response LDS Humanitarian Services began working with community based organizations to provide longer-term aid and development. Today the Church continues to partner with major humanitarian organizations. Working with Islamic Relief Worldwide the International Organization for Migration the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and International Relief and Development the Church is constructing homes schools health clinics and water and sanitation systems in Indonesia.
The Churchs work in the area is the organizations most significant humanitarian effort to date — fueled by the fast offerings of members and contributions from others in responding to a request from the First Presidency and marking the first time the organization has offered long-term assistance after a disaster.
Photo by William ReynoldsThe Church is partnering with Austin International Relief Organization to build boats in the seaside village of Krueng Raya — located about an hour from Banda Aceh Indonesia and devastated by the tsunami Dec. 26 2004. The boat-building project is one of dozens of current Church projects in Southeast Asia.
The Churchs current projects in Indonesia include:
Building 10 schools and three health clinics with Islamic Relief Worldwide a Muslim humanitarian organization headquartered in England.
Building approximately 1000 permanent houses in the Bireuen Pidie and Aceh Utara districts of Indonesia with the International Organization for Migration headquartered in Switzerland.
Building six schools coupled with training for teachers in partnership with Adventist Development and Relief Agency with headquarters in Silver Spring Md.
Building water and sanitation systems for 20 villages including sustainability training with International Relief and Development headquartered in Washington D.C.
We are focused on doing the right thing the right way said Brother Reynolds. We want to build good houses and good schools. Partnering with well-known and proven organizations greatly facilitates that effort and ultimately increases our ability to bless peoples lives.
As with all the Churchs humanitarian efforts the principles of self-reliance are woven into tsunami projects as much as is possible said Brother Reynolds.
For example the Churchs home-building project includes hiring community members to do much of the labor. They will help in building their own home and the homes of fellow villagers thereby boosting the local economy as we draw on a labor force that is invested in the project.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsLatter-day Saint Charities staff in Ampara District Sri Lanka inspect a finished fishing boat ready to go to sea. The boat fiberglass with a fisherman-constructed outrigger is a good example of one of the types of boats funded by the Church.
In addition Church and partner representatives meet with the village community before construction begins so they understand what will happen. The Church will provide materials and opportunity to build a community center if the residents provide the labor. Brother Reynolds said the Church believes this effort will draw the community together as they are involved in the project.
Finally recipients of new homes will choose the color of paint for their homes and paint the homes themselves.
We are here not just to help people but to help people help themselves said Brother Reynolds. We want to develop a program where we not only meet an immediate need but also develop long-term capacity in individuals families and the community.
In addition to these projects in Indonesia the Church is continuing to complete community projects in the other tsunami-affected countries of Sri Lanka and Thailand. For example in Sri Lanka the Church is building 650 boats. Also in Sri Lanka small micro-credit loans are being issued to hundreds of women formed into groups of five to support each other in various livelihood efforts.
Brother Reynolds said We always tell recipients about the sacred funds that make the Churchs efforts possible. We tell them a living prophet asked Church members to fast and pray for tsunami victims. The funds are sacred because they are free-will donations entrusted to the Church to help those in great need.
In Indonesia the predominately Muslim community members receiving assistance understand the law of the fast he added. It resonates with these people when we explain the principles behind the contributions that allow us to be in their village doing this good. I am very grateful for this and other principles that Islam and the restored gospel share in common allowing us to bless one anothers lives.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsBoat remains on home — located more than half a mile from the sea — in Banda Aceh 17 months after tsunami.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsBoat builder in Bireuen Indonesia works in yard where local laborers construct boats.
The Church is funding 80 boats in the areas as part of livelihood project for local fisherman.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsRepresentative model home is the same type and construction that will be used in Churchs humanitarian project to build approximately 1000 homes in Indonesia.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsMedical Rehabilitation Center funded by the Church.
Photo courtesy William ReynoldsPatient at Kesdam Military Hospital tries on artificial leg at Medical Rehabilitation Center funded by the Church.
E-mail to: sarah@desnews.com

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