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Re: Fw: Dallas Morning News - 8.22.05 -- Texans help revive an Aceh tradition

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  • Brynne Sissom
    Ed, I was inspired by this story too. I ve been in touch with Aaron by email already. If we wanted to sponsor a boat, they say it s around $3000. I figure a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 24, 2005
      Ed, I was inspired by this story too. I've been in
      touch with Aaron by email already. If we wanted to
      sponsor a boat, they say it's around $3000. I figure a
      few groups together could raise that for a boat. Maybe
      it could be christened with a name that unites
      Americans and Indonesians together.

      --- Ed Hromatka <hromatka@...> wrote:

      > From
      > This major DMN story began on the front page on
      > Monday's paper and continued inside and had more
      > photos than just this one here. Ed Bloom is a
      > former Texas DDS Administrator of Social Security in
      > Austin and a Returned Peace Corps
      > Volunteer/Afganistan.
      > Texans help revive an Aceh tradition
      > 3 men get Indonesian fishermen back into waters
      > after tsunami
      > 10:01 PM CDT on Sunday, August 21, 2005
      > By LENNOX SAMUELS / The Dallas Morning News
      > BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - In January, three Texans
      > from Austin came to this crippled city determined to
      > make a difference in the lives of area residents,
      > who suffered the worst damage in last year's tsunami
      > that had devastated chunks of Asia the day after
      > Christmas.
      > From left: Eddie Bloom, Aaron Lyman and Eric Lyman
      > founded Austin International Rescue Operations in
      > Indonesia's Aceh province shortly after arriving in
      > January. The nonprofit agency acts as a broker to
      > build boats, helping local fishermen return to work.
      > When Eddie Bloom and brothers Aaron and Eric Lyman
      > arrived, human bodies and submerged fishing boats
      > still clogged Aceh River, the city's key artery.
      > Thousands of people were living on the foundations
      > of their former homes, and mountains of debris
      > inundated streets, properties and the riverbank.
      > The tsunami ended up killing about 235,000 people,
      > demolished some 800,000 homes and erased 600,000
      > livelihoods.
      > But now people all over Aceh province are clambering
      > back onto their feet, despite bureaucratic inertia
      > in the capital, Jakarta, and the departure of many
      > Western relief agencies. Aceh residents are ready to
      > get back to work.
      > They just need some help.
      > "We had a lot of organizations rushing in here,"
      > said Andrew Sobey, operations officer with the
      > United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
      > "Many NGO's brought in a lot of money but did not
      > have the expertise, didn't know how to spend it."
      > Mr. Bloom and his colleagues are practical, hands-on
      > relief workers who know how to spend money. Their
      > organization, Austin International Rescue
      > Operations, or AIRO, has staked out a position as a
      > leading broker in boat-building, a critical
      > enterprise for Acehnese, most of whom are fishermen.
      > The tsunami destroyed hundreds of fishing vessels,
      > leaving many workers unemployed and dependent on
      > government handouts.
      > Six months ago, AIRO did not even exist. Mr. Bloom
      > and the Lymans were just three Austinites who showed
      > up with no plan other than to help.
      > They were an unlikely trio. Aaron Lyman, 46, AIRO's
      > president, has held several high-tech management
      > jobs, most recently vice president for worldwide
      > sales with SigmaTel, a leading Austin-based computer
      > chip supplier. He was involved in charity work in
      > Indonesia from 1978 to 1980. His brother, Eric, 45,
      > is a world-record bungee jumper and "extreme
      > adventurer" who has traveled extensively in South
      > America and has 20 years of experience in the
      > construction industry. Mr. Bloom, 50, is a former
      > deputy commissioner with the Texas Rehabilitation
      > Commission who served with the Peace Corps in
      > Afghanistan.
      > Modest motto
      > "Our message, since Day One of this great adventure,
      > has been consistent: We simply hope people will help
      > each other in whatever way they can, and have fun
      > doing it," Aaron Lyman said from Austin. "Within
      > families, across the street or across the world, we
      > can all make a difference to help ease suffering and
      > sadness."
      > The men could have donated money but instead decided
      > to fly to Indonesia for direct involvement.
      > "We didn't know what we were going to do when we
      > came here, whether we'd be pulling out dead bodies
      > from rubble," Mr. Bloom said. "I started doing
      > research and found this area was the center of
      > fishing, that many people had lost their
      > livelihoods."
      > So that was the direction in which the men went.
      > Shortly after arriving, they incorporated as AIRO, a
      > nonprofit agency, because, "We needed to be
      > somebody," Mr. Bloom said. "We were not going to get
      > anywhere telling people we are three guys from
      > Austin."
      > The lean operation soon began to be noticed because,
      > in a gargantuan relief process tangled up in red
      > tape and politics, it was getting things done fast.
      > "Because of our efficiency, our use of local
      > craftsmen and materials and sensitivity to local
      > cultures, we are getting outside funding for almost
      > 200 boats in-process now, with hundreds more still
      > in need," Aaron Lyman said.
      > Now, from a rented, three-story building, AIRO is
      > helping whole villages and towns get back to the
      > business of making a living.
      > Building boats
      > AIRO already has placed 10 boats in the water, is
      > under contract to build 56 more and has submitted to
      > prospective funding agencies one proposal for a
      > 100-boat project and another for 11 boats, including
      > a 23-meter (about 76 feet) behemoth.
      > While the three men paid for their first 10 boats
      > mostly out of pocket, they have since settled into
      > the role of broker. Needy fishermen's co-ops seek
      > them out for help, and the men convert those
      > requests into professional proposals, with relevant
      > specs and budgets, that they then submit to funding
      > agencies, including the U.N. and the Mormon Church.
      > "They're looking for clean, pre- and post-tsunami
      > data, commitment from surviving boat craftsmen and a
      > team of workers we've assembled, approval from local
      > authorities including landlords, mayors and sea
      > commanders, reliable suppliers and, of course,
      > quality work," Mr. Bloom said.
      > AIRO's headquarters, which the men are renovating,
      > is a hive of activity because of workmen hammering
      > and caulking the space into livability and due to
      > the parade of village elders arriving with proposals
      > for funding.
      > AIRO will not deal with individuals or families. Any
      > request must arrive vetted and approved by the
      > yayasan, or community organization, and signed off
      > on by village elders, including the geuchik, or
      > mayor, and the panglima laot, or top fisheries
      > official.
      > "That way we know that we are helping the people
      > most in need and as many people as we can and with
      > the blessing of all the local authorities," Mr.
      > Bloom said.
      > Help wanted
      > To a back office, with rubble and sunken boats still
      > visible through the window, supplicants come with
      > stamped paperwork and eager faces.
      > "The economy is destroyed. We don't have money or
      > boats," explained Abdulhadi, 48, the ketua, or
      > chief, of one yayasan. He had driven six hours from
      > Lhokseumawe to make the case for 100 boats to be
      > shared by two towns, six villages and four co-ops.
      > "Ninety percent of our 140 boats were destroyed. If
      > we get this project, we can help people who don't
      > have work now return to the sea," said Abdulhadi,
      > who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name.
      > Minutes later, Mr. Bloom heard a proposal from
      > 32-year-old Ayi Yusrizal from Lampulo and two other
      > men from Mulia, two villages that had united to
      > appeal for help. They were seeking 10 11-meter boats
      > and a 23-meter vessel. The latter boat would have a
      > 1,200-meter fish-netting system that alone would
      > cost
      === message truncated ===

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