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The Australia-Indonesia Partnership - Pariaman, and Padang with the Australia Indonesia Partnership and USAID - September 2010

Saturday morning and off to far-away Sumatra for one the last KGI Teacher Workshops for 2010. To get to Padang takes about 3 hours flying time and with an hour or so in transit in Jkt that makes it a 6 hour journey. I arrived in Padang around 1pm local time to be met by members of the Pariaman MGMP Organizing committee – Pak Hendra Masdi, a long, long time friend of KGI (since 1993 believe it or not) and Pak Hazairin Head of the Committee. We were quickly on our way to Pariaman for nasi ‘sek’ and preparations for the workshop the following day.

We had nasi 'sek' just near the railway station in Pariaman – that’s right, Pariaman has a railway station and the railway line runs between Pariaman and Padang. This is very unusual in Sumatra and I was quite surprised by that. The train runs several times a day and is especially busy on weekends. So for nasi ‘sek’ – it was interesting and the food that came with it was fantastic – hot and spicy and yum.

After checking the venue of the workshop and a tour around town it was time to take a rest from travel and enjoy my hotel. However the travel around Pariaman was quite disturbing as many of the houses I saw were damaged by the earthquake in 2009. The damage was till visible and in some cases, people were still living in dangerous conditions. Although some help has arrived since the day it happened, a lot more help is needed to make people really safe.

Workshop day saw 85 teachers give up their day off to attend the KGI Teacher Workshop. It was an interesting workshop for me because many of the participants had never met a bule before and many of them had never attended a workshop either. It took a while for some of the teachers to pay attention and concentrate on the activities I was giving them. Problems with the sound system also slowed things up a bit. The rain poured down outside while we all worked hard inside. The workshop finally started at 10.00 and was all finished by 15.00.

At 15.30 about 60 high school students came to meet me and to have a chat. The session started slowly but it didn’t take long for the students to really enjoy asking questions and interacting with me. The questions were terrific ranging from questions about IELTS and TOEFL, how to learn English easily and the reasons why KGI is in Indonesia. It was fun. All students who asked a question received a KGI (t-shirt) Gift Pack and the remaining students were given a standard KGI Gift Pack. Everyone left smiling and happy and of course lots of photos were snapped before departure.

On my way back to Padang we dropped into visit Radio DHARAH in Pariaman. The station broadcasts KGI every Sunday morning at 9.00 and we want to thank Pak Martin (far right) and his team for their support in the area. 

After meeting so many students and teachers earlier in the day I now hope that many students will now listen to KGI on Radio Parah every week - each Sunday at 9.00am.

To remember the first anniversary of last year's devastating West Sumatra earthquake, Australia's Chargé d'Affaires to Indonesia, Paul Robilliard, visited Padang on September 27th. Kang Guru was there at SDN19 Padang to watch the festivities and to see the happy students and staff of that school being built with support from AusAID and US AID. Their school was destroyed in the 2009 earthquake and now i ti sbeing rebuilt.

In Padang, Mr Robilliard and US Ambassador to Indonesia, Scot Marciel, visited one of 39 damaged schools, SDN 19 Padang, that the two countries are helping Indonesia rebuild. Together they signed a plaque at the school in Kampung Olo to mark their countries' commitment to help Indonesia's children return to formal education.

"Working together, our three countries can help about 6,500 children return to safer schools which will meet Indonesia's earthquake-resistant standards," Mr Robilliard said.

Mr Robilliard also visited Lubuk Kilangan village where he talked to locals who have been trained to build safer homes through a joint Indonesia-Australia public awareness campaign. The 'Earthquake Safe Housing' campaign taught communities across West Sumatra that building safer houses can save lives during an earthquake. Mr Robilliard also launched www.rumahamangempa.net the online version of the campaign. The new campaign will use popular social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to post updated resources and information (see below).

Overall, Australia has provided $15 million in assistance following last year's 30 September earthquake, including support for emergency, recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Later in the day KGI attended the opening of the online services from www.rumahamangempa.net from the Australia Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reducation (AIFDR) - an AusAID project in Indonesia.

This new campaign will use popular social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to post updated resources and information.

“By putting these materials online, many more Indonesians in vulnerable regions across the country and beyond West Sumatra will be able to access this important information,” Mr Robilliard said.“Australia is committed to helping Indonesia reduce the human and economic toll of natural disasters which are a serious risk here,” he said.

Australia will also train Indonesian builders to construct earthquake-resilient buildings through a regional training and logistics centre. This will include a competition challenging builders, engineers and architects to design houses using techniques that minimise damage in earthquakes. Australia is also rebuilding eight health facilities across Padang Pariaman district to help communities regain access to improved health services.