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Operasi Ya'ahowu 2005 -2008

Child's Play 2005

This expedition began in response to the tsunami of Dec 26, 2004 that hit the west coast of Nias, an island off the west of Sumatra, Indonesia.  This was the first time Raleigh was in a post-disaster region. We had sent recce teams over to Nias to work out a proposed freshwater distribution system for the villagers of Sirombu. Our local partners were PKPA (Pusa Kajian & Perlindungan Anak, Centre for Study and Child Protection; www.pkpa.com.id) and YAKKUM Emergency Unit (http://www.yeu.or.id) for the local reconstruction efforts.

In March 2005, a earthquake in the region, killing 1300 people mostly on Nias, and levelling most of the capital Gunung Sitoli’s built infrastructe. The plans for the water sanitation project were thrown into disarray. Undeterred, Raleigh Society volunteers participated in project ‘Child’s Play’ (from March to July 2005) to help the affected children cope with post-trauma symptoms. Three Child’s Play teams – who stayed in very tough post-quake camp conditions – brought cheer to the children staying at Internally Displaced People’s Camps (IDPCs). Volunteers helped to organise recreational sessions for the children, as well as getting them interested in their studies again by conducting academic sessions in English, Mathematics and Health Education in tandem with our local partner, PKPA.  


Article by Volunteer Laurien Lee

12 am. Mar 29, 2005
Our phones started to ring furiously away as each of us slowly grappled with the facts provided from our counterpart volunteers - an earthquake with an 8.2 magnitude had just hit our intended project site at Nias Island on the west coast of Sumatra.  

Overnight, the pictures on the newspapers and the TV images told us more than we wished to know. “There was heavy, heavy shaking which lasted a length of 3 minutes … Death toll is estimated at 2,000 people… Between 500 and 1,000 homes were destroyed, and the island's public market was ablaze… As many as 10,000 - 15,000 people ran to hilltops for safety and feared to having to go through again another attack of the tsunami…”  

With such a magnitude of the earthquake, the experts would have predicted another tsunami. But this time round, at least the locals were spared from reviving the recent memories of their pain and loss.  

Raleigh Society had sent 2 recce teams in late Jan and mid Feb 2005 to access the situation at Desa Sirombu, Pulau Nias and to work out the details of a proposed freshwater distribution system project. Since the Dec 2004 tsunami attacks, the locals’ priority need had been the supply of fresh clean water for their daily living. A team of Raleigh volunteers started to actively putting together funding proposals to relevant organisations and to seek engineering advice on the project.  

Raleigh Society was also working with local NGO partners, PKPA (Pusat Kajian & Perlindungan Anak, Centre for Study and Child Protection and YAKKUM Emergency Unit for the local reconstruction efforts. 

Since the news of the earthquake, we tried all ways and means to reach our local volunteers who had set up their base at Sirombu. The phone lines were not working and other local volunteers located at Medan lost all contact with their counterparts.  

It was only till the late afternoon that we heard from them. Their trembling voices told us volumes. We were told that the house at the base grounds where we stayed during the recce trips was completely destroyed. A local medical worker whom we had known could not escape in time as the hospital building collapsed below him. The markets and the bazaar areas were all gone. Roads were inaccessible and rubble was everywhere. During our recce trips, we also met up with a Singaporean pastor from the organization of Tomorrow’s Hope who shifted to Nias Island to look after an orphanage during our recce trip. Fortunately all the children and the pastor himself were safe.

It would not be possible for us to fully comprehend the shock and the after-effects that the locals at Nias Island were facing at this very moment. But what surely stand true with a stronger conviction – the locals need our help and we would be there.

Operasi Ya’ahowu: 2007- 2008

Following the Child’s Play project, Raleigh began to work on a health and hygiene outreach programme in a school.


The project aimed to establish a health and hygiene “prefect” for SD Bouse. This is akin to the prefectorial scheme in Singapore schools, but instead of the prefects monitoring the adherence to school rules of their schoolmates, the “Doktor Kecil” will monitor adherence to hygiene standards instead.
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