31 May 2011

Nias Island

I was born on an island called Nias, the biggest of all islands  on the west cost off Sumatra. Although Nias is surrounding by sea, the Indian Ocean, people of Nias do not like fishing and eating fish very much.

My village sit on one of the mountains in Nias. It is usually covered with clouds, but once the sky is free a stunning view of the landscape comes up. Besides this beautiful view there is nothing spectacular there. People are mainly small scale farmers.

The best memory from my childhood is the hospitality. Many people from far away villages used to pass through my village to go shopping in the Capital Gunungsitoli. And although we did not know them personally, they would always stop to ask for a drink or to spend the night in our house if they came back from the far away capital.

I left the village early and moved to the capital to go to school. The capital is a small and noisy town with around 7000 inhabitants. Soon I left this town too and the island and moved to Sumatra to look for better school. I only visited the island sometimes for a few days .

I never thought that one day I would come back with a big task. Thanks to the good mark at school I got a scholarship to study. After I finished my bachelor's and master's I went to Germany for a post-graduate programme. I studied and worked there for a few years.

In the year 2004 I went back to Indonesia. Three weeks after my arrival in Nias a tsunami hit the island and part of North Sumatra. I quickly found a job in an NGO as relief coordinator. What a stressful job! I had to coordinate a lot of partners while supervising the distribution of aid. Six months later I was promoted to be deputy director and programme manager of the newly created humanitarian and social organisation Caritas Sibolga. As somebody in senior management position I had to be able to work under pressure while exercising great responsibility in decision-making.

During the 4 years I worked there I managed projects with a budget of over 6 Million Euros. Despite the stress I successfully developed and implemented 22 projects.

I was happy to have the chance to contribute to the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort in Nias after the 2004 tsunami and 2005 earthquake disasters.

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