Dear Lion Edward,
I recently toured tsunami-ravaged areas in Indonesia. The level of destruction, especially in the capital city of Banda Aceh, was astounding. Yet the people remain full of hope that their lives will soon be better.
I will tell you about one scene I witnessed that will help convey the devastating force of the tsunami. Outside the city, a massive barge loaded with coal lay aground far from the ocean shore. Next to it, also strangely ashore, was a battered tugboat. The tsunami had been so powerful that everything in its path, no matter how large or previously immovable, was violently displaced. It made me shudder to think how that same wave bore down on seaside villages and its unsuspecting inhabitants.
We cannot turn back the clock and reverse the damage caused by the tsunami, of course. But we Lions can help people rebuild, as LCIF and Lions in South Asia are doing. Here are some recent rebuilding initiatives:
· In the North Aceh province of Indonesia, local Lions have built 205 homes for tsunami victims. The wooden homes contain two bedrooms and electricity. The homes were paid for by LCIF and by funds mobilized by local Lions. LCIF is believed to be the first non-governmental organization to follow through with its commitment to rebuild in this region. LCIF also is planning to build a school in this area and is considering a plan to fund “economic revival” projects such as fishing boats.
· The mayor of Banda Aceh, previously hesitant to work with foreign non-governmental organizations but impressed by the rebuilding of Lions in North Aceh, has invited LCIF to help rebuild his tattered city. Indonesian Lions and LCIF will collaborate on 150 homes.
· A Lions village with 150 homes will be constructed in Tanah Pasir, Indonesia.
· Lions in Sri Lanka plan to build 3,000 homes. More than 500 are currently under construction. Most of the 550-square-foot homes will be for fishermen and their families.
· LCIF’s most recent disbursal for tsunami relief was US$900,000 for Lions in Thailand to build a Lions village on the devastated Lanta islands. Lions are building 80 single-family homes for the fishermen and rubber farmers on the island.
I need to tell you that rebuilding in South Asia will not be easy or fast. In many regions, political instability is rife. Also problematic is the lack of infrastructure such as sewers and roads. These problems existed before the tsunami. The disaster compounded them.
LCIF and Lions will persevere. Lions are leaders in their communities, and we will deal with these difficulties as we build homes, schools and orphanages in the affected areas that often are being overlooked by other charities. People who lost so much so quickly will find some measure of solace thanks to the extraordinary generosity and service of Lions.
Yours in Service,
Clement F. Kusiak
2005-2006 LCIF Chairperson