News Archives

After tsunami, UMCOR builds houses, livelihoods in Indonesia

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Michelle R. Scott, UMCOR

Men mix concrete for the houses UMCOR is building in Bireuen Province, Indonesia.
June 5, 2006

By Michelle R. Scott*

BIREUEN, Indonesia (UMNS) — Zulkifi believes the houses built by the United Methodist Committee on Relief are the best.

Sitting in the living room of his new UMCOR-built house, he likes to compare it to the other homes being built in the area. He then apologizes that his house is empty. It is, save for a straw mat on the floor and the fishing net he is working on to earn some income for his family.

“The house is empty because I have no job,” he says.

UMCOR is not only helping Zulkifi and people in four other villages in the Bireuen district with housing, it is also helping them restore their livelihoods, as the region continues to recover from the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami.

Zulkifi is one of 292 people who participated in recent training sessions. The livelihoods program includes a 16-hour course in small-business startup and management, followed by an application process through which Zulkifi and his neighbors can request the supplies and equipment they need to start a new business or restart the one they lost in the tsunami.

Providing support

A local government official, Amir Adli, lists jobs as one of the top needs for people in his community. He explains that people want to work, but they lack the support. “Now they have a good house,” he says. “But they lost everything.”

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Michelle R. Scott, UMCOR

Many women plan to open sewing businesses as a source of income for their families.
At a community gathering near Pineung Siribee Village, dozens of people living in temporary barracks-style housing talk about their future. This village is one of the five where UMCOR is assisting tsunami survivors.

Many of the people gathered here have already attended the weeklong livelihood training session and have either submitted or are planning to submit an application to receive assistance in starting up a small business.

Common interests are fishing, setting up fishponds, operating small stores, chicken farming, supplying well parts, sewing and making cakes. Most are picking up where they left off before the tsunami. Some, mostly fishermen, are choosing to change their occupation.

Giving and receiving

Syarifa is one of the more than 500 people who submitted an application and a business plan for a cake-making business to UMCOR. In the plan, she says she needs an oven, a way to purchase ingredients, and something to transport the cakes she makes to nearby shops where people buy snacks.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Michelle R. Scott, UMCOR

For one family, this new UMCOR home replaces the battered house in the background.
This is what she did before the tsunami took her home, her husband and her only means of income. “Everything was gone except me,” she says.

In her application, Syarifa explains how she will give back to the community. Those who receive livelihood assistance will be obliged to return to the community 25 percent of the value of what they received from UMCOR.

The return payment is not expected to be in cash. Instead, beneficiaries can provide free or reduced cost services to their community, hire additional employees or use other creative ways to give back some of what they received.

UMCOR plans to provide at least half of the applicants with material assistance in the form of equipment and other support that will allow them to start new or restart businesses lost in the tsunami.

More information on the work in Indonesia and other parts of the world can be found at, the UMCOR Web site.

*Scott, an UMCOR staff member in New York, visited Indonesia this spring.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

Related Articles

Tsunami recovery includes school replacement

UMCOR makes grants to Asian projects, Sudan

A year later, tsunami relief efforts are just beginning

Tsunami-battered Aceh Province searches for security, hope

Indonesia?s tsunami recovery comes with complications



NPR: Tsunami