Dear Friends,

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster, Aceh-based non-profit organisations, the Children’s Media Centre and The Geutanyoe Foundation, in partnership with the InSIGHT Out! project, are working with children and youth survivors to launch an education campaign for Aceh’s orphans and underprivileged children and organise a special exhibition of children’s photos.

We ask you to remember to honour the victims and celebrate their future by supporting our “Through the Eyes of A Child: Loss and Hope After the Tsunami” campaign

The Impact of the Tsunami on Aceh’s Children

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami left over 275,000 people dead and missing worldwide. More than 160,000 people were killed or rendered missing in Aceh alone, two-thirds were children. The massive disaster left hundreds of thousands of orphans in Aceh, and had a devastating impact on Aceh’s education system. Over 40,000 students and 2,500 teachers and education personnel were killed, and around 2,135 schools were damaged, including kindergartens, primary, junior and senior high schools, technical and vocational schools and universities. 150,000 students lost access to proper education facilities.

Banda Aceh, Indonesia. “Ulee Lheue beach in Banda Aceh… where the tsunami came in.”

Education Challenges Remain

Today, 10 years on, Aceh has come a long way and many schools have been reconstructed. As someone who has worked with Acehnese communities for more than 15 years, including on tsunami recovery and reconstruction, I am proud to see how far Aceh has come. But I also know that Aceh’s peace and progress remain fragile and that Aceh’s children still face multiple education challenges.

Aside from the tsunami, the province’s 30-year conflict also affected millions of children in the province, leaving thousands orphaned or without guardians. Aceh’s school drop-out rate of 26% is one of the highest in the country, and orphans from poor backgrounds are the single largest group among drop-outs. In addition, in 2013/2014, Aceh had the highest number of secondary students who failed the national exams.

Aceh also remains one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia, continues to be highly vulnerable to disasters ranging from landslides to floods and earthquakes, and many rural communities still lack access to basic services and infrastructure. Daily life is still a struggle for many, and some children have to travel hours by boat to reach the nearest school.

Our organisations have been working with Aceh’s vulnerable children for many years, and we continue to explore innovative ways to support and empower the agents of change on the ground— local communities, local organisations, and, most of all, the generation of the future.  Photography and web-based communities are powerful and rapidly evolving educational tools that can empower and connect underprivileged children to the wider world. And we are adapting too– some of our team members are currently tutoring students in isolated areas through social media, in both Indonesian and English.

Photo by Lilianne Fan, 2010. Conflict orphans in a remote village in Southeast Aceh.

Photo by Lilianne Fan, 2010. Conflict orphans in a remote village in Southeast Aceh.

The Campaign: Through the Eyes of A Child

To mark the 10th anniversary of the tsunami, we are organising a special exhibition in Banda Aceh, Indonesia from 25-31 December 2014, and will launch an education campaign for Aceh’s least fortunate children, especially those who do not have proper access to education or whose families are too poor to pay for their children’s schooling.

Exhibition: In the aftermath of the tsunami, we worked with child survivors, many of them orphans, to record their daily lives and moments of loss, beauty and meaning, as a way to help them recover from trauma and regain their sense of hope and confidence. In the run up to the 10 year anniversary, these orphans asked us to help them show their photographs to the world.  We need your support to help us bring these moving visions to life.

Education campaign: In conjunction with the exhibition, we will launch an education campaign, to be lead by orphans and children themselves, to highlight education needs across the province and mobilise more attention to impoverished and isolated regions of the province. The campaign will support the development of education initiatives with the involvement of the children themselves, and in close partnership with local orphanages and the local government.

What the Acehnese pride themselves on above all else is being self-reliant. Thus, helping them invest in education and in innovative partnerships for the future is the best way to show your support and solidarity.

We hope that you will join us in honouring the survivors of the tsunami by showing your support for Aceh’s children and their future.

 Thanking you in advance.

 Yours truly,

Lilianne Fan

Co-Founder and International Director

The Geutanyoe Foundation

Banda Aceh

About the organisers:

The Children’s Media Centre (CMC)  An Acehnese organisation working to protect children’s rights and promote the role of children in peace-building since 2005. Formerly supported by UNICEF, American Friends Service Committee, Terre des Hommes Germany and others.

Geutanyoe Foundation (Acehnese for “Our Foundation”) An Aceh-based organisation working to protect, rejuvenate and promote Aceh’s rich social, cultural, historical and ecological heritage and diversity through educational and cultural initiatives with local communities.

InSIGHT OUT! Established by a group of international photojournalists in the aftermath of the tsunami to train children to express themselves through photographs and stories to promote trauma healing and empower their voices in their communities. The photographs to be exhibited were taken through workshops conducted by InSIGHT Out! in post-tsunami Aceh and Thailand.