After the Asian tsunami hit Aceh, mobile phones became lifelines. Landlines were down and communications very difficult. Targeting this need, Family Care Foundation purchased mobile phones to be given away to select individuals helping many others in the region.
These mobile phones were to establish lifelines, not lifestyle. The questions we faced were: "Who was deserving?", "Who would be able to maintain the monthly payments?"; "How could we avoid people feeling left out?"
We first handpicked breadwinners.Then we came across some outstanding teachers who had lost everything, and were living on the floor of simple, spartan school buildings having resolved to continue their teaching. Among other things, this act alone provided security and normalcy to the pupils, including many newly orphaned children.
Then we met Sri, Rizal, Agus, Cut Cinta, Hasan, Indra, Fitri and their friends – all volunteers with the local branch of the Red Cross (PMI). “They are true volunteers,” said their supervisor. “They work around the clock. They receive no salary – only food a couple times a day. It has been a demanding situation. We all live in tents. We are refugees ourselves."
Sri, previously a student at the teachers college, told how she miraculously escaped the waves. Her rented room, computer, her assignments, textbooks and newly completed thesis, were all wiped out.
Months later, when her workload as a Red Cross volunteer was less, she returned to college. But there were obstacles: The library was gone! She had to rent computer time in a small noisy public place. She has no home or belongings, only the clothes she wore.
Nevertheless, Sri has a radiant personality and strong faith that God would provide. We can only say that our lives and mindsets have been forever altered by the interactions we have been blessed to have with the brave people we have met here – not just survivors, but overcomers!