This video I am posting here is very personal and significant for me. It was filmed during what was the most intense, indescribable 11 days I ever experienced in the 36 years I lived outside North America. Eight days after one of the worst natural disasters to hit our world in the last 100 years, the Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004, I landed with 3 friends in the city worst hit by the tsunami, Banda Aceh, on the westernmost tip of Indonesia. Scientists called it a “once in 700 years” event.
My friends and I lived in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, a 3 hour flight from the capital of Aceh province, Banda Aceh. An earthquake of 9.3 magnitude had hit in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Indonesia, generating a series of waves that not only hit Indonesia but also the beaches of Thailand and reached as far as Sri Lanka and even Africa, 1000’s of miles away.
One of the things that I remember the most was just how I would be at a loss for words to describe what I was seeing and experiencing. The birds chirped, the wind blew, the clouds rolled by as they always had. But all around was devastation and loss on a scale that really could only be compared to a large atomic explosion, without radiation.
My friends and I went there to do what we could, whatever that might be. We found that actually there was a lot we could do. But with this post I am not really going to be describing so much. Instead I want to make available some film footage I was able take while I was there.
We had received backing from people in Jakarta as well as in the States to help us do what we were doing. The filming was to help those folks know what we were able to do and where their support had gone. I personally ended up being very involved in doing recognizance at the innumerable refugee sites that sprang up throughout that area.
We’d go to one after the other, get info on what conditions were and what they needed, and then get in contact with much larger international organizations. They had quickly filled warehouses with food and resources with physical and medical supplies but they didn’t have the workers on the ground to know the individual local needs. That was the part I was able to play.
My other friends all spoke Indonesian and English so much of their work was in translating for foreign doctors in the camps, doing trauma counseling and just being available and ready to help with whatever the need was.
But if a picture is worth a 1000 words, as they say, then perhaps this film footage will give you an idea of what it is like to be in a place where an almost indescribable destruction and loss of life has occurred. And hopefully how a handful of individuals can try to do what they can.