Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Letter Shaped Buildings on Google Map

Introducing geoGreeting.

What this website does is allows you to type greetings and see them transformed into letter-shaped building with images from Google Map. See a screenshot of my nickname above.

You can send the greetings by E-card or send an email with the link generated.

My Humanitarian Work...A Reflection

[Update] This post won the 3rd price in the World Vision Blog Action Day Competition. Thanks...http://learnaboutpoverty.org/]
[Update 2] Here is the link: http://learnaboutpoverty.org/2008/10/22/winners-learn-about-poverty-blog-action-day-competition/

I don't know about you but there is a different sensation when duty calls you to work in emergency situation post disasters man-made or natural. And wow...Indonesia has many of those disasters.

Post referendum violence in East Timor, Indonesia led to large exodus of East Timorese to West Timor. I have just graduated from my bachelor studies and joined OXFAM GB on a water project in a resettlement village.

Then came the bad news no one wanted to hear. Several UN staff were killed by angry mob of thousands in Atambua, Indonesia. All humanitarian organisation left the area as UN slapped the highest security level - Level 5 on the whole West Timor area. Fortunately after a few years later most NGOs returned. The UN however had a limited presence due to the Security Level restrictions. This is when I joined UN OCHA that facilitates coordination of humanitarian activities.

As a junior staff I went to natural disaster emergencies such as Alor Earthquake and Eruption of Mt. Egon in Flores. But the most shocking event that affected the whole nation and the world was coming soon. It was the Asian Tsunami Disaster on Boxing Day 2004. My experience in Aceh will be the theme of this post.

A couple of days after the large earthquake that led to the tsunami on Boxing Day 04, I received a call from the UN OCHA Chief of Staff in Jakarta requesting my support in Aceh. As a junior staff, it was a dream call plus the opportunity to help others in need during emergency...The adrenalin rush!

I arrived in Aceh on 6 January 2005, almost 2 weeks after the disaster. My main task was to support the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), usually the first UN team on the ground for any emergency. Our line of work is coordination. Although still could be considered a junior staff in the UN system, because I was the longest serving Indonesian field staff working with UNDAC I was considered as senior by my work colleagues. Another great thing was that I worked with some of the best UN staff from all over the world. How about working hours? 07:oo AM - 11:00 PM for 2 months....Crazy isn't it? But it felt good working under pressure. My main task was coordination with Indonesian Government and help establish the humanitarian air service -originally called UN-Joint Logistics Centre (JLC) and later UN-Humanitarian Air Service (HAS). I got to see and experience rides on different helicopters and planes.

And when you think the emergency phase is over and you can relax......boom in March a big earthquake shook Nias and Simeulue Islands. I am off to Simeulue to support the coordination activities and from what was originally a 1 week deployment turned into a total of 3 months posting. Living in tents once again together with survivors of the earthquake was nothing new.

After returning to Banda Aceh we hear the news about the appointment of Bill Clinton as the UN special envoy for tsunami recovery. He visited Aceh 4 times, 3 of them with the capacity as special envoy. I didn't realise preparing for his visit was a big job, a month of preparation for a half day visit.
From My Pictures

By 2006 there was an opportunity to have a post with more responsibility in a small city called Calang. It was completely devastated during the tsunami and only 2 buildings were left standing. It turned out to be my most memorable moments in Aceh. I was trusted to become the head of the field office leading a small team of enthusiastic staff and to be trusted as the UN Deputy Area Security Coordinator for the Calang area (unofficially - mentioned in the UN Security Plan but no official appointment from the UN Country Representative) was a big deal for me.

After 2.5 years in Aceh, I decided it was time for me to leave...Fortunately a study opportunity arise with a scholarship from AusAID and here I am in Sydney.

BUT...when you thought there was no more emergency...one came up in the form of flooding in Aceh Tamiang. It happened during the Christmas holiday period. I was called up by the UN Coordinator to support as the Logistics Manager (where are all those fine UN WFP staff when you need them?) So as some people celebrated the Christmas Day....I was on a helicopter with a couple of tonnes of food supplies for the affected area. After a month in the disaster area it was time for me to leave as more staff have returned from their Christmas and New Year break.

I flew out of Aceh with great memories and experience. I enjoyed the adrenalin rush working in emergencies. Some people call us "disaster junkies" and there's even a Facebook Group. I will certainly do this type of work again in the future...

OK enough reflection....back to uni study.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Floriade 2008 Canberra Day Trip

Thank God it's the mid season break and the fasting month has ended for some of my friends. That means it's traveling time. This time is to Canberra...and it was Friday, 3 October 2008.

While the idea behind the trip is to see the Floriade 2008, the largest flower show in the southern hemisphere, but come one....a bunch of guys going to see flowers. Most are in the trip just to get away from Sydney for a day. The girls in the trip were excited and so they should. There were flowers everywhere.
From Canberra Spring 2008

For me it's just about nostalgia. Going back to a city I called home 15 years ago

Arriving in Canberra just in time for Friday prayers for our Moslem friends.
From Canberra Spring 2008

Followed by lunch in Civic. The Civic has changed a lot since the last time I was there...We had locals guiding us...Firman and Zadat????

We went to the Parliament House for photo op. Some friends did the "Jetstar" style photo with yours trully as the photographer. I was using my friend's Nikon D80. Damn...I have to get one of those DSLRs....
From Canberra Spring 2008

After that we went to Mt. Ainslie for a quick look at Canberra from the Lookout. Nice but I was getting windy and cold....so back down to the War Memorial...
From Canberra Spring 2008

From Canberra Spring 2008

From Canberra Spring 2008

Our day in Canberra ended with dinner at a small Turkish restaurant in Yarralumla. After that we went back to Sydney.

At the end of the day, the cost for car rent and fuel is $31/person. Cheaper than by bus...GREAT DEAL!!!

All photos courtesy of Aji, Valen and Adhi

Kupang Waypoints/PoIs in Google Map

Just made a small collection of PoI (Points of Intrerest) for Kupang, NTT, Indonesia that can be viewed in Google Map
See the preview below

View Larger Map

The points can be downloaded in KML format and used in Google Earth or your favourite GIS software

Wordle....Fun with Text

With Wordle you can have fun with text
(disable No Script because it works on JavaScript)

You can see paste a bunch of texts or put you blog and see how it turns out.

The image below is from generated from this blog.