Saturday, January 28, 2006

Lahusa, Teluk Dalam and Coordination Meeting

Bawolato IDPs Camp. LPAM-Nias provided four 4 fishing boats for them.
But because their houses are totally damaged, they can't go anywhere
until their houses are built again. Some of the villagers still live here.

SD Hilidohona Unit 1

SD Hilidohona Unit 2

SD Hilidohona Unit 3

Nias West Coast. It was cool. It always reminds me of Hawai'i

SD Orahili Unit 1

SD Orahili Unit 2
That's the tent as classroom before finishing their school.

I’ve just arrived from Lahusa and Teluk Dalam. Well, it’s supposed to come along with Gallaume from UNOPS but somehow he couldn’t join us. He had a meeting with UNICEF talking about their proposal. So, I, Wilson and Bang Manalu went to Lahusa without him. We left office at 8:30. Arriving there, I talked to my field staff and gladly he admitted that there was something wrong in his job and he promised to improve it. Prior to that, I’d cross checked what happened there with the workers. It’s about the worker’s payment. What I saw was Budi, the staff, was honest to tell the truth. That’s a good credit to keep him keep staying on his job. After discussing the progress and the materials they need for the next week’s plan, we headed to Teluk Dalam. Soon I arrived in the school site, Orahili Fau, I briefly checked what’s going on there so far and then left it for Education Coordination Meeting in Teluk Dalam.

Amson from UNICEF was already there when I arrived. The meeting was interesting. There were UNICEF, Save the Children, WFP, Pusaka, PKPA, BRR, Spain Red Cross, PPK and of course LPAM-Nias itself attended by me and two of my staffs. The language in the coordination meeting was Bahasa Indonesia instead of English like yesterdays’ meeting. Most of the INGO sent their Indonesian staffs.

The interesting point was I found that we are the only that has started the reconstruction of the schools and even almost completed. Then, PPK has very good data base of the schools there but still in compilation. UNICEF plans to distribute school kits for all the students in Nias. We are thinking of having cooperation with Save the Children as they only provide mobiler for schools while they don’t have any plan to reconstruct the schools. We are still find any schools to build because for this 2006, we plan to build 5 more schools.

We went back at 10 p.m It’s great day…!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Coordination Meetings Started Today

This morning I canceled the visit for Teluk Dalam and Lahusa. I met the Field Officer of UNOPS; Gallaume. He needed the information how we handled the works down there and I explained the details. Little bit surprising him as the details were little bit complicated but that’s the way we handled the works on the ground. We did village meetings very often prior to the reconstruction stage ensuring that all parts were involved and heard their voices. Well, actually, there were “inside information” of the organization he asked but I just let him know. As long as he has intention to work for the people and that’s just fine. And it’s a pleasure to share our experiences as well. He then wants to visit our school project site tomorrow and we agreed to go together tomorrow morning at 8.

Today, I started attending the coordination meetings again. The coordination meeting held at UNORC was interesting. At least we shared information and I saw the possibility to cooperate with others. Just like Yunus from FIRC offered to have a cooperation with watsan and others things especially for fulfilling the non-food need of IDPs. For me that’s a good sign as we plan to build the Hiliganöwö village and we need more other humanitarian agencies there so that the people can be helped as much as possible so that they can build their lives as soon as possible. The meeting offered the possibility of cooperation and information about the other meetings; sectoral meeting. Tomorrow I have to attend education coordination meeting at Teluk Dalam as well after the field visit.

By the way, surprising, I met Axel, the Melteser contact person when we worked for the tsunami in Aceh. But now he works for Help Germany. I met Vougel and Catharina, who supposed to be volunteers for Walhi Sumut when I was there. We contacted each other through emails and never meet before until I met them in the meetings. It’s surprising.

On the way back, I tried BRR hot spot and it worked good. I can access the hub there but I just wonder how come I can’t access the hub by first class with the telkomnet instant access. I don’t know. But I think if I have time tomorrow then I’ll just go to BRR hot spot service.

One of my staff has just returned from the field and report about the providing electric generator program. It’s little bit complicated there as one of our field staff we trusted to bridge us and the villager didn’t work well. Even, his approach was really unsatisfied. Tomorrow after coming back from the field, I need to talk to him.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Down There

Road Access. It's not easy but challenging. One of my technical staff
was making sure that we could pass the road. Most of the road
on the east coast of Nias just like this.

One of the schools. Here's in Tuhemberua, Lölömatua.
The progress is still 80%. It will take 3 more weeks
to complete this building.
Today we went to Alasa not Alaska, me, Wilson and Bang Malau. It’s glad to find that there was a good progress for the reconstruction of the school in comparison with the progress when I did the visit of the last two months when I came to Nias. We plan to complete the reconstruction in the beginning of the February. Hopefully, there is no any delay with the plan. Some need to be fixed of course especially the working management. But seems like it’s not real a big deal of it.

Tomorrow we are heading for Lölömatua and Lölöwau and going straight to Teluk Dalam through east coast. Then from Teluk Dalam to Lahusa and will be back to Gunungsitoli on Saturday.

We arrived in Lölömatua and found that the work was little bit late due to the lateness of materials arrival. On the way, it took a couple hours to fix the car. Finally we arrived in Lölöwau at night and stopped over night in one of the local suppliers’ house there. In the early morning we went to visit the school in Lölöwau. There were a little bit problems there but finally I could fix it. The owner of the land who granted the land and school committee were in different perspective on the land. But after applying my negociation skill, we agree on things. Well, what I learnt here was that he needed someone who listened to him and fortunately, I spent my almost two hours to listen to him. There is a unique way how to approach him.

These two weeks I’ve spent my days going to the working field area seeing how things goin on there and I found that the works were little bit slow due to the materials and the weather. It rains a lot and the access never been easy. But it's a challenge for me. I like it. Other things I found were the staff and the workers were little bit relax doing things. I found even one of my field staffs instead of staying there, he rarely showed off. I heard that he was busy for his business with BRR. I need to talk to him tomorrow. I actually was thinking of firing him. But then I changed my mind. I dont' think that's a good decision. Instead of firing him, I prefer to talk to him if there is any way to fix his working performance.

Other interesting thing was that when I tried to identify the problem there, I found that my technical teams had problem in communication with the workers there. Well, they are not Nias people and they do not speak Nias language. At the same time my workers most of them speak only Nias language. I fixed couple things; pointing new field staffs and order them to complete the building as soon as possible. We can’t go anywhere since the school reconstruction takes our energy and mind. Actually, we plan to start the housing reconstruction in the first week of the February but seem that it won’t work. Well, there will a little bit delay for that.

Well, I enjoy the working though…. Actually, I plan to go back to Medan this week for writing the new proposal and talk to my finance staff but I can’t. Perhaps in the beginning of the month of February only I can do it. There are a lot meetings that I have to attend here as well. Hmm...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Home Again

Home Again
Home again. What a wonderful day! Arriving here this morning at 10:25 and well,. Cleaning my room was waiting for me and washing all the clothes. Finally, home.. I really love it. After the meal and then business as usual started working. I have a meeting tomorrow with Peter CA and hopefully I got the air ticket for Nias the day after tomorrow. I have to prepare the financial report today and send it to TdH this afternoon hopefully before 2 p.m.

Home again.. I love it and I checked my hub found Emilio and Jinli online. Emilio sent me message from the web but my first class doesn’t work. I still can access the hub from the first class in Bangkok but not here now. I don’t know why. Well…

Here's still pics from Cambodia

Chamroen with Cambodia's Flag

Thousands of Visitors of Angkor Wat every day. This is very
potential income resource for Cambodia except that the issue
of the corrupted government can't make it real income for the country.

Picture of Building Angkor Wat in ancient time.

Budha with his smiling face

A Baby and The Angkor


Real Goodbye and stuck in Malaysia

Real Goodbye and stuck in Malaysia

Getting up very early this morning at 4 a.m. Monique gave me wake up call. Here things when the feeling of good bye really hurt. I hurried to get all my belongings to the bus and then I found others were in the bus already and some were in the hotel entrance. I could not say much. Giving them hugs and we knew that it’s not easy. Some left and some still there. Adriana, Safiq, Zarina, Denny, Catherine, Nick and others still there. Adriana didn’t have my own Slovakia currency with her and yup. That must mean that she will send it to me at home. Again it’s not easy. The bus was leaving and all the way we did not talk much. I tried to look back but I could not. Sad faces around. It’s never been like that before when we were in the bus. Everybody’s minds were kind of empty. I really want to cry but I could not. I tried to convince myself that that’s life; there is a time to say hello and there is a time to say good bye; but still I felt sad.

Arriving in the airport, again we separated. I went to Terminal 1 while others were in Terminal 2 because we had different flight and different time to fly. All now really different. That really showed how we have own our destiny. I gave them hugs again and that’s it. Could not speak much.

I then check in and was little bit confused as my ticket was issued by Malaysian Airways but I checked in through Thai Airways. But yeah, finally we board at 9:05 in which supposed to be 8:15. We departed at 10 in which should be 8:55. An hour late and that’s what made me stuck here in Kuala Lumpur. I could not catch other flight to Medan at 2:45. I was late and then I stay over night here in Kuala Lumpur. Tomorrow I’ll fly at 9:25 in which I should be there at least at 7:00 a.m for check in.

And here in Concord inn. I’m little bit tired and hungry. Time to have meal.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Angkor, Poverty and Democracy

Angkor, Poverty and Democracy
A Very Brief Portrait of Cambodia




Angkor Wat

Arriving at Phonm Penh Airport

The gang on the top of the boat

Phonm Penh
January 1,
We arrived in Phonm Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Slightly, first impression was just like other countries that were under developed, the country fighting for its development. We stayed at Sunway Hotel downtown across from US Ambassy. The city has the central park precisely in the downtown of the city and it’s only couple meters from the Sunway. I, Sou Yan, Adriana and Aleyama went there and soon I found that Buddhism and poverty at the same time showed their faces.

In the afternoon, we traveled on the Mekong River by boat. It was beautiful to see the sunset there. It’s likely the travel was time for reflection; to be down to earth of the issues we talked in classes. Then we went to the Chamroen’s temple. The master of the temple explained more about the religious organization. Majority of the Cambodian people are buddhist. The religious organization takes role for education and of course the key role for teaching budhism to its people.

Then we went back to hotel. First surprising for me was when I had dinner in one of the local restaurants closed to the hotel. While I was waiting for my meal, there was a child selling cricket. I first saw that and I could not believe it when the local people ate the cricket as just like other snacks. Man.. I was completely surprised. To fulfill my surprise, I bought four the fried crickets to show to others.

Peter, my roomate, was not surprised at all. He’s been in Thailand and other countries surrounded and vistied Cambodia couple times so that didn’t surprised him. But still I could not believe that. The next morning, he tried to take it down when we had breakfast and it surprised some of the fellows.

January 2,
I sarted to know Cambodia. The meeting was attended by Kol Pheng, Ministry of Education, Cambodian Center for Human Right, Panhavuth Long; Cambodia Justice Initiative, Jeff Daigle; Representative of US Ambassador and Senator Thacth Sitha. I found what’s going on here then. First fact was that the Director of the Human Right Comssion, Kem Sokha, was arrested by the Hun Sen’s Government. It was a big news here and surprising. This fact is enough to show the life of the democracy of Cambodia. He was arrested for alleging that he was responsible for the one of the writings in the banner they supported. Someone wrote that is unpleasant the government. And then he was put in jail for that. Simple as that. But from this, you can have something in mind what the democracy looks like here.

Other interesting one was the documentary film entitled Deacon of Death. Chan Theary is a Cambodian’s NGO activist. The film was about the peaceful conflict resolution after the Kmer Roug killing millions of people under the revolution movement led by Pol Pot. The point there was about the reconsiliation of the people of the countries. She was involved in the documentray film as one of the player and it was huge encourage to do that job. I really appreciated what she did.

Night’s Discovery
The night time was for discovery, to find out the life of Cambodian people. Peter knew the corner of the places and then took me to the bars. We passed two bars there and I saw the facts of night life there. Very young women were every where. We took some beers, hanging around for a while and went back to hotel. I was thinking of those facts and its relationship with education and poverty. I never saw these facts on the roundtable. This really opened my eyes the real meaning of lack education, poverty, prostitute involving very young girl, the families living on the street and at the same time tourism.

The next day, we departed from Phonm Phen to Siem Riep over the land. We saw and witness the poverty there. We stopped by the bridge built on almost 900 years old. A contradictory of history of a nation. Cambodian might be proud of the bridge. It showed that once it was a great country.

Siem Riep
Siem Riep was like an urban girl making up. It’s tourism industry is growing. One of the most popular destination was the temple or angkor. Angkor means capital. The most famous was Angkor Wat which was built in the Jayavarman the 2nd. This angkor was huge. I can imagine how big this kingdom was. And actually, this kingdom was once very powerful in past and yet occupied almost all the regions surrounding from Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and so on. Tragically, Cambodia now was a small country of those and was left behind than the other countries surroundings.

Other interesting fact was Cambodia has its floating villages. It was interesting how the nature phenomenon built the society. The houses or village built was very dependable on the water (lake). It’s amazing. And at the same time, again, poverty showed its real face there.

Again actualy, Cambodia has its huge potential. Tourism could make the country prosperous. Thousands of visitors every day to the temple and to Phonm Penh. Scott said it’s kind of oil in the middle east. It can be a source of income of the country without sacrificing much. Somehow, as I always believe that sometimes the problem is not because the country has its own resource or not but how to utilize the source for the benefit of its people. Very often, what happen with the under developed countries were the corrupted government that take rid of the all potential for their vested interested, for their groups. To be rich as quick as possible by sacrificing the welfare of its people. Hun Sen government showed that.

There was a question when we had reflection by the pool last night. What economy model is suitable for Cambodia? Free market or non-free market? I obviously opposed the idea of free market in Cambodia. Simple reason is free market with the corrupted government, without transparancy, democracy and respect on human right will be a disaster. When people are banned to have freedom expression, even if they can build jungle of building, it will only be a bubble economy. It’s fake and sooner or later in such situation, the economy can collapse easily. I think what Indonesia experienced under Soeharto Regime showing that.

At the reflection, I think we only understand the very complex of the real problems when we talked about poverty, power and leadership), bubble economy, tourism and things in classess. This study tour revealed the complexity. And we also understand that no any change over night. Chamroen kept explaining what happen as he saw it different now. Again, there is always that can be done. There is always. Perhaps not a spectacular and very sophisticated thing but at least there is always. I suggested to give more scholarship to Cambodian people in the next year or trying to figure out any project in cooperation with other NGOs here or with the governments. And the very positive thing is that we have already started good network with Prince of Cambodia, Norodom Sirivudh. So? Yup, the only thing to do now is to figure out the plans and do it. I think EWC-APLP has capacity and capability to raise the fund for whatever program it might support there. Yes Nick, do it.

From Siem Riep we headed Khon Kaen stopped over in Bangkok.