Monday, October 22, 2007

Day 2 on Nias Island

My staff and I are on Nias Island for a week to conduct topographical surveys of 8 school locations spread out over the island. In the past two days, we finished north Nias. One of the locations is in a small town near the northern cape, and one of the most inaccessible spots on the island.

The drive from our office in the capital city (or should I say, town) of Grung Sitoli was three long hours on a severally pot holed dirt road crossing two collapsed bridges. Later, we past a beach where the driver pointed out how the surf moved out 1000ft since the two massive earthquakes two years ago. Is this geological uplifting?

The town of Dahewa felt like a frontier town with its muddy streets and decaying wooden buildings. This town has seen a lot, it was the closest point to the 8.6 Nias Earthquake in March 2005. And it's not that much further from the epicenter of the 9.4 earthquake which triggered the Asian Tsunami three month earlier.

The existing school here is flattened. All that is left is a torn up foundation and a small pile of rumble at the far end in which the school kids like to climb at recess. Classes are currently being held in "phase 2" temperately school buildings, constructed out of small precast concrete columns bolted together and covered with thin plywood. Phase 1 housed the classes in tents, which still stands today. You can still make out the baby blue UNICEF logo on the frayed and weathered tarps.

School kids in northern Nias

Kids love to watch the survey, northern Nias

One of the bridges we had to cross.

Kids climbing the remains of there old school building.

Class being held in the phase 2 temperately school building

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