Wednesday, 1 July 2009

New water supply and a Kiwi cop in Aceh

"We have clean water in our village now," says a young boy in Calang.

Last week I spent time in Aceh province where the Red Cross has completed almost 40,000 houses. Most of the houses have high quality water and santitations systems.
Children from Calang showing an interest in the workings of the pumping station. Photo: American Red Cross
One of the main reasons for going to Aceh was to inaugurate the Calang City Integrated water supply and sanitation system built by the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross has been working with communities and the municipal authorities in Calang City to construct a new water supply and sanitation system. Calang was almost wiped off the map when the boxing day Tsunami hit in 2004 and few people were left alive.

One of the many islands that dot the coastline of Aceh province, Indonesia. Photo: Bob McKerrow

We flew from Banda Aceh to Calang in a Cessna 206 last Thursday morning and were delighted to be able to inspect the water supply and sanitation system that benefits 1,440 families and supports the water needs of over 6,000 people living there. I talked to a number of householders and they were thrilled to have not only a new Red Cross built house, but excellent water and sanitation systems.

Inspecting the holding tanks and pumping station of the American Red Cross water system in Calang, Photo: American Red Cross

The project has involved constructing a brand new water supply system channeling water from Alue Sundak stream direct to homes and expanding an existing water treatment plant at Krueng Sabee River to accommodate the water needs of the entire city.
Shaking hands with the Bupati (district chief) at the inauguration of the American Red Cross integrated water supply system in Calang. Pak Iyang Sukandar secretary general of Indonesian Red Cross (l) and myself centre in the dark shirt. Photo: American Red Cross

I have about 100 foreign and nearly 1600 Indonesian staff working for me here in Indonesia and nearly all are hard working and highly committed. I am very proud of the work we are collectively achieving. One person and am very proud of is Jodye, a NZ policewoman who is in charge of security. Here is an article about Jodye Tomalin from the Waikato Times:

Daily kidnap threats are just part and parcel of the job for Tokoroa policewoman Jodye Tomalin, now based in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

Miss Tomalin, who took up a 12-month position as security co-ordinator for the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement (IFRC) in April, said her staff had to always be on high alert.

"Banda is quite good at the moment, but you have always got to be aware," she said.

She has to oversee the security of 1600 staff, making sure she knows where they are at all times and the risks associated with travelling to certain areas.

"You can't let your guard down because we get daily reports of kidnappings. Things can happen at any time. So I have to try to keep an eye on everyone."

Banda Aceh is the capital city of the Aceh province which had been ravaged by 30 years of civil war before the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami hit, killing more than 100,000 Acehnese.

A peace agreement was signed months after the disaster and things have been relatively quiet ever since.

"(The Acehnese) are an amazing group of people and are just so positive about the future."

Miss Tomalin, who has been a constable in the New Zealand police force for 11 years and was serving in Rotorua before she shipped out, said working for the Red Cross was very different to policing. "Here it's more about education and making the staff aware of their own security."

This is the first time Miss Tomalin has worked for the Red Cross.

She was inspired to get involved with the organisation after a six-month deployment in East Timor with the New Zealand police in 2007.

"It was a fantastic experience. Our contingent was so well respected. The Timorese had a bit more respect for us as Kiwis than they did the Australians. I think because the way we come across is different to other countries.

"I just loved the whole living in a developing country thing."

Head of Delegation for the IFRC in Indonesia, Kiwi Bob McKerrow, said Miss Tomalin was doing a great job.

"She's good. Really good. I had to fight to get her though because people said 'she can't work in Aceh because she's a woman and it's a Muslim society'.

"But Jodye has gone in and done a good job. She's a tough Kiwi policewoman."

Miss Tomalin grew up in Tokoroa and started her policing career there. She also worked for 18 months in Putaruru and six months in Motueka, before working in Rotorua.

Thanks to NICOLA BRENNAN - Waikato Times for permission to use this article.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
To read of results like this, of peoples hard word, dedication and effort paying off is so fantastic. These are the the stories we should be reading and seeing in our various media. We instead get Micheal Jackson and Sarah Palin.
I am enjoying a wee dram in honour of my country and the 4th of July, a quiet reflective dram for my troubled homeland.
I realize you no doubt have a full agenda for your coming trip to Aotearoa, but should your travels bring you to the lower north island you are most welcome here Bob. Wouldn't it be great to organize an evening with Pohangina Pete and Jamie! In any case have a great weekend and thanks as always for your wonderful place here. Kia kaha Bob.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Robb

You should be very proud of the work of the American Red Cross in Indonesia. They are doing outstanding work. All the more being July 4th, something to celebrate. Have a great day Robb.


Marja said...

I am impressed again and again Bob of all the work you,this policewoman from New zealand and all the others do. You have 1700 people work for you
That's amazing It never sank in how important you where. You must be a New Zealnder to still stay so down to earth

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

No one is important in this world Marja unless you want to make them that. I am not mourning for Michael Jackson but I am mourning for the 30,000 children dying every day in the world, the women and children being raped and then killed in Dafur, the situation in Palestine, the millions of displaced people in Pakistan trying to stay alive. Their plight is IMPORTANT, URGENT, and yet most turn away.

Jodye, the policewoman from NZ is someone we can make important because she took the plunge believing she can make a difference.

Thanks Marja, I apprecuate your feedback.


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Hey Robb! Kia Ora.
I forgot to reply to your invite to come down your way when I am in NZ. It's so tempting to meet up with you, Jamie and Pete. That would be a 'three bottle night' of the best Single Malt. What yarns we could spin !

Lia Kaha


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Yes indeed it would be an evening to remember, and I would love to see your smiling face and twinkling eyes. If its possible just let me know.

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