The 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia left more than 250,000 people dead and five million people homeless facing the huge challenge of piecing back together their shattered lives. One of the worst hit regions was Indonesia’s Aceh Province, the area closest to the epicentre of the earthquake. Formidable obstacles faced those seeking to provide aid and restore services to the devastated region.
Suffering on such massive scale brought together a huge variety of organisations and individuals in an unprecedented international humanitarian response, raising about US$7 billion to fund relief efforts. A donation from UK pop group, Duran Duran, kick-started our 2005 tsunami appeal, which was followed by donations from the US public via GlobalGiving, the Internet giving site, and from long-term US supporter, C. Crane Company. Their generosity enabled us to provide more than 1,250 radios to support recovery programmes by Mercy Corps, International Medical Corps and Oxfam, which have worked in the region since the tsunami and continue to rebuild devastated communities.
These organisations identified radio beneficiaries and radio listening groups to receive news, information, advice and support. Radios were distributed to youth and sports organisations of villages and hamlets, and to community prayer houses, called meunasahs, that double as community centres. As up to 40 can listen to the radio at any one time, more than 50,000 people could tune in to regular, current and accurate information.
Mercy Corps praised the contribution that our radios made. Its solar/wind-up feature added flexibility to their distribution, enabling them to distribute radios to communities that had access to electricity, but no radios, and to those without electricity.