A terrible natural disaster and its consequences
SOS Children's Villages helped rebuild the village of Lambada Lhok (photo: S. Posingis)
Banda Aceh is the capital of Aceh Province in north-western Sumatra. After a 30-year civil war had turned the formerly prosperous province into one of the poorest areas of Indonesia, it received another blow in 2004, when it was struck by a tsunami. More than 130,000 Indonesians died, many more lost their homes and thousands of children were separated from their parents. The 200-km coastline between the cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh was the area affected worst. However, the massive outpouring of aid and solidarity, both from inside the country and from abroad, not only provided crucial relief, but also helped transform the political environment, which led to the signing of a peace agreement.
One of the side effects was that the region gained a reputation as an easy place to live where one could get help from international organisations, which has caused an influx of people from all over the country. The number of children without parental care has increased, with many of them living in the streets of the cities and trying to earn money by doing petty jobs. They have no time to attend school because they have to concentrate on surviving, and they easily fall prey to criminals.
Providing relief to areas hit by the tsunami
After the tsunami, SOS Children's Villages provided immediate emergency relief measures to traumatized children and homeless families under most difficult circumstances. We tried to take care of as many children as possible and find their relatives in order to reunite the families. This was followed by the construction of more than 500 private homes and community centres near Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. Generous donations and close cooperation with the local authorities finally made it possible for our organisation to set up three new SOS Children's Villages in Banda Aceh, Medan and Meulaboh.
What we do in Banda Aceh
Sack race (photo: S. Posingis)
In 2005, SOS Children's Villages Indonesia launched its first family strengthening programmes. These programmes are intended to support families at risk of abandoning their children and to encourage families to stay together. SOS Children's Villages works with local authorities and other service providers to support families and enable them to take good care of their children.
In Banda Aceh, an SOS Social Centre has been established which co-ordinates the family strengthening programmes. We offer counselling in various fields, community support and psychological support. The programmes are designed to ensure that children have access to essential services, such as education, health services and psycho-social support. Families are assisted with their income-generating activities. They also receive help when dealing with the authorities. People's parental skills and awareness of children's rights are improved. In addition, the SOS Kindergarten provides day-care. To parents who have to earn a living it is very important to have high-quality day-care for their children, so that they are not forced to leave them alone while they are at work.
For children whose families can no longer take care of them SOS Children's Villages provides a loving home in one of the SOS families at Banda Aceh. The children can attend the SOS Kindergarten, where they mingle with children from local families and make friends. Later they attend schools in the area, which helps them become part of the local community.
Boys usually become part of the SOS Youth Programme when they start vocational training or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified youth workers, the young people develop perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions. They are encouraged to develop team spirit and build up contacts with relatives and friends, as well as with the relevant authorities and potential employers.