Aloha Medical Mission to Return to Indonesia

Manoa (KHNL) - Of all the nations struck by last year's Indian Ocean tsunami, Indonesia has paid the highest human price. The worst devastation occurred in Aceh province.

While the immediate needs of food, shelter and water appear to have been met promptly - the longer term reconstruction is a long way off for many nations, including Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Terry Bigalke, PhD, is a researcher with the East-West Center in Manoa. "There was such enormous destruction it'll take a decade or more to get things back to where they were and better."

A team of Hawaii doctors from the Aloha Medical Mission (AMM) went last January to help- and hopes to return next month. They met with the East-West Center Friday to forge an informal partnership to pool information and resources.

Vernon Ansdell, MD, is an AMM volunteer. "We feel there's an ongoing need there. When we were there before there was an obvious need and we think that by going back and setting up an ongoing presence we can really contribute to the recovery of the area."

If you'd like to help, AMM operates largely on donations. "If people are willing to contribute we can certainly use the funds."

Researchers say this goodwill mission may carry political weight. Dr. Bigalke says for the AMM to "actually try to establish a longer term presence will resonate well. It'll show a commitment that the Achenese will appreciate. That is important with Islamic Asia and the wider Islamic world."

Aloha Medical Mission plans to spend two weeks at the end of March in Aceh.