HOMEStrategies for building awareness for the potential of peace education in Cameroon Ben Oru Mforndip
Has Democracy Enhanced Development in Africa? Conrad John Masabo
Permanent Emergency Powers in France: The ‘Law to Strengthen Internal Security and the Fight Against Terrorism’ and the Protection of Human Rights Lena Muhs
Women’s Political Representation in Sri Lanka: Leading towards Prosperity or Peril Pujika Rathnayake
Lack of empathy as a threat to peace Victoria Scheyer
The death of democracy in Honduras Daniel Bagheri S.
The Persons Who Changed the Lives of Terrorists and Criminals Surya Nath Prasad
RECENT ARTICLES Teaching Peace from Tales of the City: Peace Education through the Memoryscapes of Nagasaki Patporn Phoothong
Reflections of Refugees in Africa Wyclife Ong'eta Mose
Challenges and prospects of AU to implement the Ezulwini Consensus: The case of collective security and the use of force Tunamsifu Shirambere Philippe
The Right to Food Shant Melkonian
Freedom of Expression Under Threat in Zambia Mariateresa Garrido
Douglas Janoff on LGBTQIA Human Rights Luciana Téllez
Common Things: Communication, Community, Communal Peacebuilding Lina Patricia Forero Martínez
The political Crisis of the 2017 Honduran Election Daniel Bagheri S.
Water Security in the Sixaola River Basin Adrián Martinez Blanco and Diana Ubico Durán
Reborn Arunima Chouguley
An Open Letter to the American People: Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age Richard Falk, David Krieger, and Robert Laney
Last Updated: 09/16/2005Helping Out
The earthquake on December 26, 2004 that measured at least 9.0 in magnitude and the catastrophic tsunami that followed fifteen minutes later affected nine countries bordering the Indian Ocean and took at least 22,000 lives across south
The earthquake’s epicenter and the area hardest hit was the western part of the Aceh province and the islands near it, which were devastated. Many villages that thrived before the water came were reduced to rubble and twisted metal. Because of a separatist insurgency, martial law had been enforced in the Aceh province, sealing it off from the rest of the nation and the world. But two days after the tsunami, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono canceled the rules that prohibited outsiders from visiting Aceh, enabling United Nations agencies, foreign aid groups and troops to hurry in and offer help.
So Dody left his home in Java to serve his neighbors. Since he had worked in Aceh with the World Health Organization offering workshops on the ways in which healthcare could serve as a bridge to peace, Dody had many friends in the medical community there. Sadly, when he tried to communicate with his friends, he found that some of them were missing or they had perished.
Thousands of Achenese were homeless, without adequate food or water. Time Magazine reported that one woman lost 7 of her 8 children and 38 members of her extended family. Most of the infrastructure in the region had been destroyed, so Dody and his colleagues, who specialize in education, focused on what they knew best. They worked with UNICEF and other international NGOs to train volunteer teachers who could work to revive the schools. They gathered writing utensils, books and other school supplies to replace what had been destroyed. They brought volunteers from Java and trained them as teachers, and prepared the educators to handle emergency situations and work in stressful environments dealing with post-traumatic symptoms.
Dody and his colleagues also brought nonviolence skills to the teachers in the Aceh province. According to MSNBC News, mediators persuaded the Indonesian government and Aceh rebels to meet for negotiations on a cease-fire, trying to forge peace out of the tsunami tragedy. Since long-term conflict over separatism created a culture of violence in the region, educators considered physical punishment an acceptable part of academic life. Some Aceh teachers punished students using physical abuse. So Dody’s team encouraged teachers to use nonviolent teaching tactics.
At the Kindergarten through high school levels, Dody and his colleagues made a difference in Indonesia by providing essential equipment and rebuilding the education system in Aceh. While they worked, the volunteers of Education for Aceh and North Sumatra cultivated relationships with members of the community and made sure they weren’t perceived as outsiders. The helpers lived in the community among the tsunami survivors. Dody and his team provided facilitation and support, helping the victims of devastation recover by asking, “What is best for you?” Teachers from Aceh were encouraged to be the owners of the rebuilding project. Step by step, they put their schools back together.
“We encouraged them to live again, in a new situation,” says Dody. “It is a lot, actually.”
Sabrina Sideris is a Master's Candidate at the University for Peace, studying Peace Education.