Table of Contents

News 14 Jan 2009

Layers and layers of politics determine recognized land rights in Indonesia—traditional, colonial, provincial and national impositions of power reign to varying degrees in various places at various times. Without recognized land claims, the fruits of one’s labor and survival becomes tenuous. Short-term returns replace longer-term strategies. Yet who exactly has the power to decide is not always clear either. I am working closely with the leaders of all the camp’s divisions to write a statement from them. We have looked at the requirements for lodging complaints/requests with the United Nations and for requesting advocacy through Global Response, an international environmental network. With these in mind they are trying to put on paper their voice. Once we have that, I have offered to send it to QUNO Geneva and to Global Response to ask them to review it, send questions or suggestions, and direct us to any steps they could take to secure rights to land. This in complicated since they live on the edge of the international bioreserve, Leuser Ecosystem. We are making headway and they are honored and pleased at our support in framing their voice in writing and translating it.

One of our main partners in the refugee camp is Mislan, who travels through surrounding villages selling Jamu, traditional Javanese medicine. I brought with me all the supplies to make colloidal silver. We have already started to use some and fungal infections some of them have had for years, which have been resistant to the medicines they have access to, are already healing. We will go shopping for bottles to distribute it in and have drafted a label that we can print to put on the bottles.

The water filter team is ready to produce filters, but the quality clay was purchased en masse by a company, so we only have access to low quality clay which requires extensive processing before it can be used. We are waiting on the clay. As soon as it is ready, they will produce 250 filters. I will bring a dozen or so to the refugee camp to set up here and give them time to do a trial. The key leaders of the camp trust us and are anxious to get the filters and begin using them. If they work (and we all don’t get sick!) distribution may be very quick.

Jamie Carestio, a potter from western New York, and his friend Ali will be arriving January 26, 2009. They will go to Jogjakarta for three days to visit the potteries and stove production sites there. Hopefully they can pick up the filters and bring them to us. We will then take a week or more to produce rocket stoves. I have talked to the women and they are excited about having stoves that take the smoke out of the kitchen and keep the kitchen and their pots clean. The men are excited that they can point to the use of filters and rocket stoves as evidence that they can live on the edge of the forest without destroying the forest.

I have received permission to go to Aceh, so tomorrow I will be able to meet the Acehnese and beginning planning. There are already requests to do a follow up to the trauma healing workshop, which we will do a group—Acehnese, North Sumatrans and the Javanese refugees. There are also requests for an AVP Advanced, which as yet has not been translated into Indonesia. I will incorporate our experience from the last trauma workshop into the manual and then translate the AVP Advanced manual. This means that we will not be able to do as many workshops on this trip, but focus more on this new development.

They are able to do basic workshops on their own, but funding for AVP workshops is still an issue. We are talking through how to do workshops that don’t cost them anything in their respective home bases. We all feel this is hard, but worthwhile in the long run. We are specifying also that there are workshops that we want to do in conflict areas that are not our own homes and that these may need funding. At present, since the houses are often just tents or weak structures, there is not room for a group and if a group goes inside the place falls down. Traveling to another place and renting a space is costly. So we are trying to figure out two models—one without funds in home bases and one in places that we want to reach out to but can do on a reasonable cost basis. Many of the costs are necessary, but many of them are expectations created by other international charity programs. For instance, people often receive travel money or “smoking” money, they eat A LOT rather than what they usually eat and they expect medicine to be provided and rather than take one or two tablets they take a whole package to take home, and so forth. Without clear expectations and tight controls, this can double, even quadruple the cost of a workshop. We are discussing how to communicate and create a culture that we all understand and agree on, but this is very hard when we enter new areas, especially where there are still frequent fatalities over conflicts.

In the refugee camp, we are building a house to use for guests, workshops and storage for the filter and stove production. It may also be a place that we can do some activities to support the development of young children and store the necessary supplies for that. It may also serve as a “safe house” where people suffering from traumatic responses can come and get some stabilization. It will cost us $1,000 – $1,500. It is located across the street from Mislan’s house in the center of a sort of family compound where his parents, in-laws and married children also live. This ensures support and services that we can control the quality and cost of and security of the storage. It is very central, but just out of the center enough to be quiet and a bit separated from the main bustle. I have allowed them to feel that it belongs to them to use as they see fit for housing guests and community gatherings as well as for our purposes. This will greatly facilitate workshops in the refugee camp.

The funds are adequate, but I could use another $2,000 – $3,000 quite comfortably right now. In addition, I would like to build another building in a central part of rural East Aceh, in Bagok, like we are doing in the refugee camp. It would cost us a bit more, however, probably about $2,000 – 3,000. If anyone knows a donor that would like to build a pre-school, please let me know immediately. If we don’t raise any more than we have now, I will have to do less with the pre-schools and the young children. But, with what we have now, there is already tremendous improvement in the health, aspirations, security and peace of the people here. They are very grateful and inspired by our call to simplicity, honesty, hard work and community.