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HFH Indonesia Celebrates 1,500th House Under Tsunami Reconstruction In Meulaboh

Habitat Also Completes More Than 1,000 Houses For Earthquake-Affected Families In Yogyakarta

MEULABOH/YOGYAKARTA, 6th July 2007: Habitat for Humanity Indonesia celebrated double joy when it marked its 1,500th house built in Meulaboh and more than 1,000 homes completed in Yogyakarta recently.

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Thankfulness: HFH Singapore national director Yong Teck Meng (second from left) presenting a pictorial book on the 1,500 families housed on Meulaboh to Singapore Red Cross council member Tee Tua Ba (left).

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Durable: The houses in Meulaboh feature an earthquake-resistant design.

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Rejoicing: Peter J Coleman (right), president and general manager of ExxonMobil Oil Indonesia cutting the rice cake, symbolizing blessings during the Yogyakarta dedication ceremony.

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Fresh start: With her home repaired, Vereansisca and her family can move on with their lives after the floods.

Since October 2005, HFH Indonesia has been partnering with HFH Singapore under Operation Hands United to undertake tsunami reconstruction in badly affected Meulaboh on the west coast of Sumatra. About S$14.3 million of the total funds of S$88 million donated by the people of Singapore to the Singapore Red Cross Tidal Waves Fund, went towards funding the majority of Habitat’s tsunami project in Meulaboh. The Indonesian province was one of the worst-affected areas following the December 2004 Asian tsunami.

The dedication ceremony for the 1,500th house completed in Meulaboh was held recently in Kuala Tuha village in the Nagan Raya district. A traditional welcome and dance greeted the Indonesian government representatives such as Ramli MS, chairman of Aceh Barat district; M. Kasem Ibrahim, vice-chairman of Nagan Raya district; and Chairani, chaiman of the government’s Urban and Housing Department who attended the event on behalf of the governor of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province. Other guests included Yong Teck Meng, HFH national director; Rick Hathaway, HFH Asia-Pacific area office’s regional program director; Rene Indiarto of HFH Indonesia’s national board of trustees; and Tee Tua Ba, Singapore Red Cross’ council member.

At the ceremony, Kasem called on the community to take an active role in future development. He said: “Habitat for Humanity Singapore and Indonesia has provided housing support for tsunami casualties in Nagan Raya and Aceh Barat districts. This is the time for community to actively participate in continuing the development.”

Thankful for the close cooperation, Habitat home partner Juni Junaidi said: “I appreciate the partnership between Habitat and this community. We are satisfied because what Habitat has done in this community is in accordance with the community-based approach.”

After the presentation of symbolic keys to five family representatives, the day continued with traditional games with tug of war and “gunny” sack race.

In Meulaboh, Habitat served families in 14 badly affected villages by providing 45 sq. m. houses of a permanent, earthquake-resistant design, each comprising two rooms and a toilet.

Over in Yogyakarta province on the Indonesian island of Java, Habitat and its partners shared in the joy of more than 1,000 families whose homes were reconstructed following the May 2006 earthquake.

Two separate ceremonies were held for the symbolic handover of 1,095 houses to Habitat home partners in Yogyakarta. At the first ceremony conducted at the Yogyakarta governor’s office, representatives from Habitat’s corporate donors such as Dow Indonesia, ExxonMobil, ABN-Amro and Unilever, and Catholic aid agency Caritas Germany, and YAKKUM Christian Foundation for Public Health, were present to hear the Yogyakarta sultan’s speech being read out. Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who is Yogyakarta’s governor, said: “We realize the support from many parties played an important role in strengthening the victims’ spirit to rebuild their lives. Moreover, what has been done by the donors who worked with Habitat for Humanity Indonesia is very beneficial for the victims.”

The donors also recognized the long-term benefits of a safe and decent Habitat house. Urai Rogers, president director of Dow Indonesia, said: “Nowadays, corporates aren’t working just for the benefit of the company, but it has larger social responsibilities. When we build houses for the victims, it’s not just about putting a roof above someone’s head, but to build the life of the family inside it.”

The guests then proceeded to the second ceremony which took place in Gupolo village, Prambanan district on central Java. Traditional dance amd music greeted the guests and tumpeng (rice wrapped in leaves) was cut, symbolizing gratefulness and blessings in the Javanese culture.

Ragil Subagyo, who represented home partners from Muruh village, said: “The sincerity and the house aid from Habitat and its partner have touched the hearts of the home partners. Therefore we feel more spirited to rise from our sorrow.”

Another home partner Sayid said: “I like Habitat’s program because it encourages gotong royong. If I had to hire construction labor, I may not be able to rebuild my house, neither will others. Gotong royong helps to revive a community spirit that has long been forgotten.”

In Yogyakarta, Habitat is still involved in the construction of a community center and kindergarten at Canden village in the hard-hit Bantul district.

Meanwhile, in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, 1,000 families who are affected by the February 2007 floods can look forward to starting anew in their homes that were repaired by HFH Indonesia. The three-month Jakarta flood disaster response project concentrated on the worst affected areas where a lot of low-income families live. These areas are Tanjung Priok and Teluk Gong in North Jakarta and Sukakarya in North Bekasi. Repairs included door or windows replacement, or building concrete brick walls to replace the old bamboo walls. Volunteers who helped with repairs included those from private Indonesian broadcasting station Pundi Amal SCTV, schools such as Sekolah Mentari and Jakarta International School, business corporations like ABN Amro and individuals.

In addition to repairs, HFH Indonesia also partnered with HOPE worldwide Indonesia to provide free health treatment for the affected villagers in Sukakarya. Habitat also supported its partners such as Chevrolet Club Indonesia in distribution of food, with General Electric to give out mattresses, light bulbs and medicine.

Among the families whose homes were repaired, Vereansisca, a 38-year-old housewife, was especially thankful. Her whole family had to take refuge in a school for 10 days when flood waters damaged her house. She helped to mix cement to repair her kitchen’s roof and walls. Poverty compelled her to leave her two youngest sons in an orphanage that pays for their education while her two other children stay with her. Being a sailor, her husband James only returned home once a month. Despite the separation from her two sons, Vereansisca sought to keep their relationship intact by bringing the children back home for short stays. In the midst of trials, Vereansisca was still able to give thanks: “God is so good to me.”