Friday December 19, 2008
Sitting outside her new home in the small Indonesian township of Ladong near Banda Aceh, nine-year-old Ocha speaks of finally being able to 'move on'. Having a proper new home, she says, is like the last step.
It must seem a lifetime ago that the devastating events of Devember 26, 2004 changed Ocha's life forever.
After both her parents died in the tsunami, Ocha was rescued by a neighbour and kept safe until her uncle, who had walked ten days to reach Banda Aceh, found her after several days of searching. Now she shares a home with her guardians and new 'little brother' Alol, and says life is finally settling down.
'The house is very good,' she says, 'and I am going to a new school. I have made lots more friends, and we walk together to school. It is not that far.'
Ocha and her family live in one of 160 houses in Ladong built by Australian Red Cross.
They are some of the 1,800 permanent homes Australian Red Cross has built for people affected by the disaster, more than 1,400 in Indonesia alone.
'It has been a privilege for us to help local communities rebuild their lives, livelihoods and economies' says Chris Staines, General manager of the Tsunami Response for Red Cross. 'From the outset we said that recovery would take at least five years, and we are on track to complete all major reconstructions in Indonesia by early next year.'
'We have also provided clean drinking water for these communities and livelihoods assistance to thousands of people across Indonesia and Sri Lanka, which is crucial for their longer term recovery.'
'We've been committed to helping people affected by the tsunami for the long haul' continues Mr Staines. This has not been a quick fix approach because we have been rebuilding communities and lives, not just houses.'
'I'm immensely proud of our work. In Indonesia for example, we have not only built more than 1,400 earthquake resistant homes, we've made sure they meet quality building standards and are culturally appropriate and we've advocated for people to have equal rights to ownership to secure their future long term,' he said.
Collectively, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has built more than 41,000 permanent houses with a further 12,000 under construction. Red Cross has provided more than 500,000 people with improved access to fresh water, and over 370,000 have been reached by community based first aid services.