UMCOR / Our Work / UMCOR Field Offices / NGO News / archives2006 / indonesia_3

A Place to Learn (Part 2)

by Michelle R. Scott

Young girls climb on a small wooden tower near the highway. Boys run alongside a strip of sloping grass that sits between the road and their primary school. Their play areas are limited because the yard at their school is not a good place for them to play.

Four small primary schools sit on low-lying ground below a major highway in Banda Aceh Town. The small buildings are positioned in a rectangle facing a shared yard that is dry today, but more often than not is filled with mud. The sounds of children learning can be heard from all directions in the yard. The buildings are dilapidated and show water marks about four feet up on the walls. First the earthquake cracked the walls and foundations of these classrooms and then the tsunami flooded them. Unfortunately the tsunami was neither the first nor the last flood for these classrooms. The low ground on which the schools are built coupled with runoff from the highway makes for frequent floods when it rains. The children and teachers often have to conduct their daily business in wet classrooms.

The tsunami and earthquakes wiped out 176 of 278 primary schools in the Banda Aceh district. While the 750 students at these four primary schools are fortunate to have a school at all following the tsunami, the condition of the buildings does not make for good places to grow and learn.

UMCOR is working with the local government in Banda Aceh to build a new primary school that will replace these four structures. The ground will be raised and will have good drainage to prevent future flooding. The new two story structure will come equipped with new desks, chalkboards, and other classroom items children need to learn. Outside will be a safe area for children to play away from the road and with equipment for games.

UMCOR is working on assisting displaced people in Indonesia and other places in South Asia to rebuild their lives and return to farming, fishing, or other work. United Methodists can get involved in ministries like these through giving to UMCOR Advance #982450, International Disaster Response. United Methodist Committee on Relief is a 501(c)(3) charity and all contributions are fully tax deductible. Checks may be mailed to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10187-9068. Donors using a credit card may call toll free 800-554-8583.