ABOUT ME: ZATIN ABDULLAH ICBRR OFFICER FROM ACEH BESAR

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Zatin (me)
This Story written by Dewi Nursanti (CRC Media) 

Zatin looked quite busy when we met in Meunasah Kulam village, Aceh Besar on July 1st 2009. The Canadian Red Cross ICBRR officer Aceh Besar Field Office was conducting the training on First Aid for the members of Community Based Action Team (CBAT) in the village on that day, which was facilitated by PMI volunteers.  
Her hometown is Nisam village near Lhoksemauwe, North of Aceh, but she has been living in Banda Aceh since 1995, when she entered the high school. She was determined to be schooled away from her family because her older brother said that the provincial city has better quality of education than the ones in her hometown. In Banda Aceh she insisted to live on her own although she has many relatives here. Her reason was, “because I would like to be independent. I also love challenges and am keen to try something new.” In 1998 she entered IAIN Ar-Raniry, majoring in Teaching. At that time she had never heard of humanitarian organization, although sometimes she wanted to join the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), but she was concentrating to finish her study in IAIN Ar - Raniry, Banda Aceh, majoring in Teaching. 
Tsunami in 2005 brought a difference to her life. That morning, just barely finishing her morning prayer she felt the big earthquake. Zatin and all the other girls who rented the house together got out of the house and ran to an open field. A biker shouted, telling them that the biggest supermarket in the city was brought down by the earthquake, and that the sea had arisen. She recalled, “We decided to find shelter in Darussalam mosque. We were terribly confused and scared as none of us had ever witnessed this kind of happening. From the minaret there we watched water flowed into the city, swept everything that stood in its way. Along with many others we stayed in the mosque. On the second day we went out and tried to give help. After walking quite far from the mosque, people shouted that the sea was rising again, and my friends and I climbed up the nearest trees, and waited for hours until we were sure that it was safe to go down.” 
One week after the disaster she returned to her hometown to assure the parents that she was saved. Not waiting for too long she got back to Banda Aceh to volunteer for the Nangroe Aceh Darussalam PMI. She was assigned to do the assessment of victims and distribution of aid. Sometimes she helped the evacuation team too. Zatin stayed one year as PMI volunteer, and was accepted to be a staff for their Emergency Response until 2007. She had her first training in ICBRR program for 10 days in Jakarta, 2005, and had to travel to other area like Simeulue Island to share the knowledge. She was even being sent to have a Search and Rescue training in Taiwan in 2006. “I stayed there for one month, and I was so happy. I think that was the best moment for me so far. The people there were very discipline. There was no traffic jam, and the streets were clean,” she smiled. 
In April 2007, she was accepted by the British Red Cross as Disaster Risk Reduction Officer until May 2008. With those experiences, in June 2008, Zatin applied to an open vacancy for Integrated Community Based Risk Reduction Program from the Canadian Red Cross. “I like working for the CRC. The colleagues and supervisors are supportive. People are open to new ideas and willing to hear from sub ordinates. I learnt a lot from every place I have ever been involved with. The time I was working for PMI, I learnt on how to strengthen myself, and it is very useful in dealing with the community,” she explained. Under the coordination that she made with PMI and the community, so far four villages in Aceh Besar sub – district of Meunasah Mon, Meunasah Kulam, Suleu, and Mireuk Lamreudeup have already had their risk Reduction Plan. Zatin said that the achievements are due to the involvement of CBAT members. She added, “Sometimes the community are slow to response to programs, and I felt challenged to change their behaviour. But if the slow pace was due to internal villages’ issue, I try to maintain a neutral attitude, and make the approach through CBAT members.” 
As a person who wanted to be independent since early teens, she regretted the lack of initiative that she often faced in the villages. Zatin remembered that Acehnese were more independent before tsunami and she realized that aid and donation are not enough to build a brighter future for any community in anywhere. She hoped that behavioural changes will happen in the community. “Transfer of knowledge will be very important to build a strong community and developmental effort. Take reading, for instance,” she said. “There are not many libraries in Banda Aceh, let alone in the villages. The school library used to be filled with old textbooks only, and I guess the number will be lesser now. Not many people are fond of reading, while it is a way to improve your knowledge and be creative as it is also enrich the imagination. How can a community be strong if they do not even have the means to broaden their mind?” she asked. Her interest in learning about new and positive things to build her capacity was one of her reason to continue her study, besides her dreams to travel around the world. She was very keen in learning about people and different culture. She smiled and said that, “I would be very happy if somehow I can get other chances to attend some more training in other parts of Indonesia, and/or overseas, as different areas have their own behavioral and geographical characteristics. I am sure that no one would want to experience any disaster, be it man made or natural occurrence. I only try to be realistic in saying that there were so many inevitable events happened caused by many factors that may bring loss to life, and that we have to be better prepared in facing it.”


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