Table of Contents

News 15 Feb 2009

The rocket stoves are all complete now. Amir, Sabaruddin, Marti, Mislan, Mislan’s father and I all have rocket stoves drying now. Pak Ali from Bustanul Fakri, an orphanage in Langsa, is a brick maker, so Jamie let Ali lead the kiln building and firing. We started firing when things began to cool off in the afternoon. As the evening wore on, Jamie and I kept trying to get Ali to pick up the fire. At 11:30, Jamie and I finally jumped in. We drug five huge piles of dry palm branches to the kiln and loaded them on. The fire went from red to blue to white. We piled enough on top to get a solid foot of ash to close the top then we closed the air vents for it to fire for the rest of the night. We probably picked the fire up from 330 degrees centigrade to 600 or 650. Pak Ali was shocked. In the morning I tried to get Pak Ali to help me open it up. Jamie was sound asleep. Pak Ali told the other Indonesians it would be three days before we could open it up. So I went down and began pulling the ash off the top to let the heat out. Slowly we lifted the bricks off the top and set them out. The bricks were great! Light, orange, strong…perfect! Everyone was shocked again. Their firings are basically just drying out the clay, not actually firing as we would think of it. We made 350+ insulated bricks to contain the fire box and heat chambers in six rocket stoves. Then we went from house to house and made enough cob for each house from clay in their yards, sand from the river and dry grass from the fields. We then did drawings, laid up the stoves one by one, set the cob, cut and prepared bamboo chimneys and built metal racks for the fire box, pot skirts for the pots and chimney tops to keep the rain out. We were all filthy for a week and people were shocked to see foreigners working in the mud! Everyone in the families from the toddlers to the great grandparents all helped.

Marti has used his to boil and fry and says it works great. I’m waiting to see what his wife says after using it for a week or two. Mislan is having some trouble with his so we’ll have to tinker with it. The others are still waiting the three to five days for the cob to dry a bit before using it. The men are very pleased and tell great stories about the stoves in the coffee shop. We’ll see what the wives think once they’ve used them a bit. (Men and women cook here, but the women do most of the cooking.)

Jav sent three web addresses for Grameen type banks functioning in Indonesia, one in Bali partners with Kiva, one is part of the ministry of Finance and one partners directly with Grameen. You can take a look yourselves at:  (affiliated with Unitus) (affiliated with Opportunity International/ KIVA)  (affiliated with the Grameen Foundation)

The latter, Nasruddin from the Forum for the Poorest of the Poor has written to request information about training. On the website it appears as if they have been functioning for a couple years and have offered training in July and October.

Jamie, Ali and I were able to visit Bagok, Each Aceh for a few days. They said it was an amazing education. Aceh is clearly rebuilding. Small brick factories litter the main highway. Houses are going up. Rice fields are reappearing. Household industries are apparent. People are open, friendly and curious. At the same time, restrictions for my travel to Aceh have increased, two gigantic posts—one for the marines and one for the army—are being built, the Bureau for Reconstruction that has coordinated foreign aid in Aceh is closing in April, and several times military or intelligence workers stopped to talk to me. It was friendly talk, but it’s been a couple years since they’ve made their presence to clear to me. The national elections will be held in April and people can feel the government gearing up for confrontations. There have been some isolated, targeted fatalities of key military personnel, which will provoke harsh responses from the government when the opportunity presents itself. But for now, people are active and pleased with their current peace and freedom.

We stayed at Dahlan’s house with his new wife and mother. His father passed  away a few years ago and left the house and fish farm to Dahlan. During the conflict it was not safe to go to the pools. Now he does not have the capital to restart them. Jamie really wanted to raise the funds to help him, so I fronted $400 for him to seed, fertilize and flood three pools. He was so excited he stayed up most of the night organizing three guys to help him and within 24 hours three pools were underway. The joy and relief is a beautiful site. Dahlan said that he did not want a hand out. He wanted to borrow the funds. When his pools are productive he wants to pay the funds back into an AVP account to use to loan to others who are struggling for peace in the area. I told him it would be an interest free loan for one year—three harvest cycles.

Dahlan is 30 years old and an amazing man. He just got married this year. His father was a highly respected village mayor before. Now, Dahlan helps everyone he can in his county. Since the peace accord in 2005, he has gotten everyone in his county legal land claims. They are shocked that he did not take some land for himself. He said that was okay, he had the farm from his father. Then he got the government to give them 10,0000 seedlings for reforestation. Again the villagers were shocked that he did not take a plot for himself. They said that they have designated an area in honor of him that everyone has agreed will be cared for collaboratively by the villagers and be ready for harvest when Dahlan’s children need to go to school. He is the one that has organized the legal case against Exxon Mobil’s collusion with the Indonesian military. With the current village mayor, he erected signs along the beach that this beach belongs to the village of Bagok and organized local residents to maintain the beach. This will hopefully protect them from any corporation that decides to move in and take over, which is happening frequently. I affirmed that if we as the people do not exercise and invest in our rights they are much easier to lose. In the U.S. we take our right so for granted it’s easy to forget and lose many of them.

The majority of people we met introduced themselves by name and how long / how many times they had been kidnapped, tortured, shot or raped. It’s a strange environment. In the refugee camp, traces of the war were left behind. But the side of Dahlan’s house is still riddled with automatic weapons fire, landmarks provoke “That’s the ditch we jumped into when we got caught in crossfire that day I was late, remember?” Jamie and Ali got to meet these people: male, female, young, old, mother, grandmother, grandchild, friend, lover, spouse… They also got to try to process the fact that the U.S. was the major instigator and organizer of the coup in 1965 that led to this war and the primary funder through military aid of thirty years of terror and autrocity for these people. Clearly today just changing U.S. policy won’t resolve the situation after decades of violence and revenge, but if you could be present with these people, paying U.S. military taxes would break your heart to the point you’d have to do something. I have chosen poverty because it would truly rip my heart from my chest to know even one dollar of mine was used in the way I see our aid used here.

Dahlan right now is spending most days at the Myanmar refugee camp. Nasruddin and Dahlan asked me to go to the camp. There are 198 men 13 – 57 years old. When their ethnic group lost the election, they were severely oppressed. Eventually they were told that they had to convert to Hindduism and leave Islam. They did not want to, so they left on a boat to Singapore for black market work. The Thia police picked them up. They report being tortured for three weeks and hen the Thai police released them on their boat at the boarder of Burma and Myanmar. The boat drifted to Aceh instead over the coarse of nearly one month. Twenty-three men died at sea. When they arrived most of them were hospitalized. After five days only six men were left at the hospital. I told Dahlan he was a refugee expert—having been a refugee himself and then every time I’ve come to see him he has a new group of refugees—tsunami, war, returnees, flood, and now international political asylum seekers. Dahlan is watch dogging the refugee camp, which has been set up behind the county head’s office. The UN and international NGOs are still talking, but not taking any action. The Jesuit Relief Service provided kits with bathroom supplies, underwear and such. The government of Indonesia has finally released rice and some basic supplies, but no one was offering to cover the water. The water tank was sitting outside and they did not have water to cook the rice. Nasruddin gave them his driver’s license and said, “Here, I take responsibility for the water. Drive it in.” When I arrived, they were discussing who would sell their motorcycle to cover the cost of the water to get Nas’ license back. So, I gave them $400 to cover the water until I get back, asking them that if they find a water donor, they return the balance. This will cover their cooking, drinking and bathing water for twenty-two days. There have been problems with supplies going missing out of the county office, so they are working hard to create tighter oversight. They only take enough for one or two days, rather than trying to store things there. Local residents have been incredibly generous with food supplies (fish, vegetables, …), clothing and their time to cook, clean, and so forth. The government says they are sending them back, but the local residents say they can’t be sent back because they will be enslaved or killed. Dahlan, Nasruddin, Feri and others are working to try to get them international political asylum letters.

One man spoke some English. Jamie and he discovered they both liked soccer, so the next day the organized a game of Indonesia vs. Myanmar – Jamie played for Myanmar. Then Indonesian were very proud that they won. I told them Myanmar won. When they went to correct me I interrupted. They have been tortured, starved and hospitalized for the past two months. That they are alive, standing upright, making you run and holding their own makes them the winners. Everyone laughed.

When I took Jamie and Ali to Medan to see them off, Pak Jannes came to find me. He is a long-time activist in North Sumatra, but I have never met him before. He said that a corporation has come in and stripped the mangroves off a large area of the north coast of North Sumatra to put in fish farms. Since then, the ocean has been flooding and local people are losing crops, water supplies and suffering greatly. They feel this probably violates Indonesia’s agreements in international carbon credits, but they cannot get information in Indonesia about this. There is a group of four to eight of them hoping that I can help them get to this information. They also work in the forest and were extremely greatful to have an official reference for a map. It was a real eye opener for them as well. One of the men in this group is a leading defense attorney for people’s land and water rights and the maps will be incredibly helpful in defending these cases and probably in forming new cases.

Our core of friends is growing clearer, more stable and tight as a working group, including Ririn receiving a scholarship and coordinating AVP and Mislan and Amir from Barak Induk Refugee Camp from North Sumatra, as well as Nasruddin and Ferry from the Forum for the Poorest of the Poor and Dahlan. They have requested that we sit down in a couple weeks to discuss the clearer administration and division of roles here.

I met Manti again! I have not seen him for a couple years. He has return home to Idi Rayeuk, East Aceh, with his organization the Children’s Media Center. He just got married. His wife works with Tengku Syarwani who opened Al-Husni Pre-school in Bagok. He’s the same old Manti. I went to his office on a Sunday and there must have been forty young children hanging out and fifty or sixty teens practicing the Trash Band, dancing, painting, drama. He gave me some videos of them so I can show them when I get home. I invited him to Jaring Halus with the conflict refugees to learn about developmentally appropriate activities for young children. He said, “YES! I’ll bring twenty people with me!” That’s silly since the transportation and food costs for that would do a workshop and outfit two preschools! So I figured out the schedule and did a three-day workshop with them and the Forum for the Poorest of the Poor. For a day and a half we went shopping for what they considered the oddest collection of things. Then for a day and a half thirty of us made our own paint, finger paint, playdough, ubleck, dolls, doll house and town on a sand table and then played with them and water, sand, unhusked rice, blocks, Legos, beads, sissors, rulers, paper, crayons, and much more. Dahlan’s family offered to cook for the whole group for the week. It was a blast! All the supplies are going to Aneuk Bangsa Pre-school in Idi Rayeuk. This is wonderful since Idi saw some of the worst fighting and the kids could use a LOT of attention. I only spent under $50 for all the supplies. He has one other, somewhat larger pre-school he would like to provide supplies to as well. Teachers from both of these preschools joined us for this training. Now the only issue is looking into how much it will cost to get them each a set of preschool blocks, Legos and wooden beads. My source for blocks passed away again (the second source I’ve been able to develop over the past twenty years!). Wismi says there’s a place in Jakarta that is trying to fill that gap. They are not as good as the old ones but they will do she says. I can use all the Legos people can collect. The beads I once got a company in Indonesia to make beads, but I looked and they have gone to making all the round ones orange, all the square ones blue etc… so they have lost their value. Simplier to make of course. I will have to purchase them from Kaplan in the U.S. and bring them with me. Kaplan also has great dolls etc.. for the blocks and plastic animals for the sand table that have a lot of real detail and come in appropriate families. It would be nice to bring some of them. We also need to figure out how to get books. They would like to make books of their stories. They said they would translate from Acehnese to Indonesian and I could translate to English. If kids in the U.S. wanted to do the same, that would be great!

We have planned one more Activities for Young Children workshop in Jaring Halus, over the ocean, to bring people from Barak Induk Refugee Camp to learn from the teachers we having been sending to college. That will be next week and then I will buy supplies to take up to the camp to use there.

We have planned a basic AVP workshop for people from the Children’s Media Center, Society for Health, Education, Environment and Peace, the People’s Crisis Center, and a group of famers from an area with ethnic tension between Acehnese and Javanese. Then we will do a second level AVP workshop. Both of these will be at Dahlan’s house. Then we will do an AVP training for facilitators at the Bustanul Fakri Orphanage / School. After that we will do a Trauma Healing workshop in Barak Induk Refugee Camp. I will leave directly after that to go to Pati, Central Java to do a Activities for Young Children workshop and an AVP training for facilitators. That will leave me a couple days to go visit Al-Falah School before leaving for LA.

As soon as I solve the distilled water problem, we can begin production of <b>colloidal silver</b>. The hospitals don’t even use distilled water. The only source we could find was battery water, but the bottles are small and the quality control is terrible. So we will have to distill our own water. Keeping it clean in the process will be the challenge. We are planning a box with a sloped glass top of 100 cm x 70 cm encased in black plastic with a PVC pipe with a section cut out to form a gutter on the lower side of the glass that is tilted to run into a water jug that has a lid that can be closed after distillation. We made the water distiller on a very hot day, but as soon as we set it out, the temperature dropped and it began to rain. After it rained, I wondered if we could use the distiller in the open to catch clear rainwater. I brought a water tester, so I’ll try that.

We are so grateful to recent donors and to Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting for providing additional funds at this critical time. The generosity has been incredible. We were beginning to discuss which activities we would not do, but the Friends Peace Teams administrator reported that she is transferring $7,000. This means we can do all our activities and proceed with setting up a training to explore a Grameen Bank Branch.