Day 4 – Kurt Warner and Amani Toomer Visit Indonesia
J. Ethan Medley, NY Giants
February 14, 2005
Today was our final day in Banda Aceh, on the northern coast of Indonesia. It began with a press conference at 10am, where numerous reporters came out to speak with Kurt, Brenda, Amani and Yola, and to hear more about our trip so far. The local media in Indonesia also expressed appreciation for our visit, with the hopes that it will keep America’s attention on the rebuilding effort, which will take years to complete. The town’s Media Center had before-and-after aerial photos of Banda Aceh, which clearly showed the difference in the land since December 26. We also received confirming news that on the unprotected coast, the 20-foot tsunami hit land at an estimated 500 miles an hour. We heard previously that the wave hit with the speed of a plane, but found it hard to believe. Unfortunately, the already enormous death toll continues to rise, as over 1,000 bodies are still being found here each day as the cleanup continues.After the press conference, we hopped into cars and headed over to Darul Ulum, a boarding school for 700 students, where we helped to remove mounds of thick, littered clay from their courtyard. Yola and Brenda went off with the girls and helped them to clean their dorms, which were flooded during the tsunami. After some hard work the kids wanted to play, and Kurt and Amani were glad to oblige, showing them the game of football. The boys were very good and picked up the game quickly. After mastering our sport, they challenged us to master theirs, and a game of 5-on-5 soccer was quickly put together on their concrete court. Today was the hottest day of our trip so far, and everyone was soaked in sweat when we left.
We all needed a shower and a little rest after our visit, considering the most physically demanding part of the day was still to come. Driving about 20 minutes inland with a World Food Program World Vision convoy, we arrived in Ingin Jaya, the site of a camp where 230 remaining members of 11 separate villages moved after the tsunami, afraid to remain anywhere close to the coast. Once there, we sorted and distributed close to two and a half tons of food, including: large bags of rice, canned mackerel, cooking oil, noodles and biscuit mix. Food rations to each tent were divided based on the number of family members living in each. Needless to say, despite the overwhelming heat and humidity, we rejoiced each time we had to make a large delivery. A German medical team also accompanied us to the camp to assess injuries of the villagers. One young woman had to be taken from the camp, as she was suffering from a broken leg that had become infected. Her injury occurred as she was dragged out into the ocean and thrown against the rocks of an island, only to be rescued days later by one of the few remaining sea-worthy boats. She had not sought any medical attention for fear that her swollen leg would need amputation, but after convincing her that medical attention was the only way to prevent that, she allowed them to take her for treatment. While the remaining adults waited to receive their food, many of the kids were out playing and laughing, which is something that we see everywhere we go. It is one of the few things that is enjoyable to witness here, kids being kids.
Our day ended with a flight back to Jakarta, where the group will spend our last night together before heading separate ways. Kurt and Brenda will head back for home tomorrow, as the rest of the group goes on to Sri Lanka, where we will be joined by Tony Richardson, Pro-Bowl fullback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Set-up in 1963, WFP is the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. In 2003, WFP fed 104 million people in 81 countries, including most of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people. Currently, WFP is helping to feed more than 850,000 people in Sri Lanka, with a large logistics network spread throughout the country. For more information on their efforts in Indonesia and throughout the world, please visit www.wfp.org.