ago I was in Aceh as part of the humanitarian emergency response for the
devastating 2004 tsunami. Last week I returned with CBM Chair Board, Mick
across Aceh and East Java, Indonesia, to witness the life-changing work CBM supports
for people living with disabilities.
It’s been a
very powerful and emotional journey seeing the difference CBM and our partners are
making by focusing on inclusive livelihoods and employment for people with
East Java has
a very high occurrence of preventable blindness so it was also extremely
important for us to assess the impact of the I-SEE program that is enabling thousands of people to be screened
for eye conditions including cataracts.
really filled us with joy was seeing the Disabled People’s Organisation representatives
and Self Help Groups. We met Fira, an amazing woman with cerebral palsy and
founder of Orbit, a Disabled People’s Organisation. Orbit has 60 members and as
Fira told me, “We can support each other.”
It was obvious
that Fira benefited from CBM training on disability rights and inclusion when
she said, “Our presence as people with a disability is seen.”
statements on disability rights and inclusion! And it only grew from there.
In a small
village in Pidie, Java, we joined a lively Self Help Group of 22 people that
really inspired us.
proud of our journey and particularly grasping the concept of disability and
inclusion,” said one of the women. “Before this group, the members caring for people
with disabilities were ashamed and now they feel the same as everyone else.”
members have started successful businesses because of the savings and loan
system the group set up, which means they can buy medicine for their children,
meet school needs and help other members of the community.
The Head of
the Village spoke about the vital role the Self Help Group now plays. “We would
see people with disabilities but didn’t know how to help,” said the Head of the
Village. “This group has made the community stronger.”
The Head of
the Village then announced that the group would receive government funding at
the local level to increase their impact. A great outcome that sums up the catalytic
role CBM plays, leveraging funds contributed by the Australian community and
the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australian NGO Cooperation
As I reflect,
I’m very grateful for local partners who work alongside us to implement
life-changing projects and programs, and for the local Disabled People’s
Organisations and Self Help Groups who advocate on behalf of people with
One of the
most touching aspects of the trip for me personally, was witnessing the
development in Aceh since the 2004 tsunami. It was incredibly poignant to see the
resilience of the local people and how much progress has been made in the 14
More so, I‘m
truly grateful for you. It’s your faith, love and compassion for people with
disabilities that enables us to provide inclusive projects, to seek justice for
and with them through a voice with government and business, and to give them
hope for their future.
partnership with CBM is vital in bringing positive change to people’s lives. I
can’t stress enough how transformative this work is. It changes the life of the
individual, their family and their communities in a sustainable way for
generations to come.
So thank you
so much for being part of this extraordinary work.
I want to
leave you an empowering quote from Siti, one of the women from the Self Help
Group who has set up her own business. She says her business is small but: