Lampageu, Aceh - Indonesia, December 2006
The location of these pictures is one of the hardest hit spots around the city of Banda Aceh. Tiny rises of city buildings lie behind the distant palm trees and my imagination conjures up scenes of the 100 foot wave crashing down onto the coast, flooding the city and carrying the villages that would have once been in these photos out to sea. I see this scene every time I visit this village where we train women to weave rattan as an income generation activity.
Along my drive out to other project sites, I often marvel at the beautiful scenery around me and think, "And this is work?" The pristine beaches, aqua blue ocean, swelling waves and sparkling sand against a backdrop of tropical forest where the locals claim to spot tigers. The Western or sometimes referred to as Southern (confusion due to its South/West orientation) coastline is rugged. Surf is always up and the beaches ladened with shells - a surfer's and beach comber's paradise. I'm grateful to experience the purity but selfishly hope it never succumbs to the ravages of tourism. This euphoria over working in paradise lasts a pleasurable two minutes as my daydream fades into reality...
The stony footprints of crushed houses peaking through the underbrush of beach bushes, the dead trunks of coconut trees snapped in half, the rows of temporary shelter barracks, and the scattered boxy, cement houses built by NGO's all remind me that this place is not exactly paradise lost, but rather devastation found.