BANDA ACEH: The Malaysian Red Crescent is shocked at the derelict state of the orphanage it built in Pidie here after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami.
Its national executive board member James Kon said he didn’t expect to see the orphanage in such poor condition having had raised funds to build the 2ha orphanage 12-years ago. Walking around the premises, pieces of ceiling and roof could be seen in a state of collapsing, with paint peeling off the walls and trash littered around the premises.
Various outdoor facilities and furniture were damaged.
“The building requires some maintenance. There are some leaks, and some ceiling repairs has to be done,” Kon said. “But I think more importantly, it’s the children’s living conditions – their beds, mattresses they sleep on are 12 years old and require replacing,” he added.
Kon said the damage caused by the earthquake would be assessed, including the orphanage, and “we will most likely be calling on the Malaysian public to raise funds very soon.” The Star Online was accompanying the MRC to assess the damage caused by the Dec 7 earthquake at Pidie Jaya and to check on the orphanage in nearby Pidie. The orphanage’s caretaker, Tunku Rusne, said that the district’s annual floods were responsible for some of the building’s wear and tear.
“The floods happen every year and it can reach waist level, around three feet deep,” he said.
Rusne, also the orphanage’s religious teacher and cleaner, said that the floods would submerge the bottom bunks at the dormitory.
“The children would sometimes have to climb to the top bunk to escape the waters and wait until the floods recede,” he said.
Rusne said despite the sprawling grounds, the orphanage only homes 25 children at present.
“Back when we had funding, we would home 200 children. But now we lack the funding, what can we do?
“We house them, teach them and feed them three times a day. We don’t have the money to take on more kids.
“I hope we will get more help to run this home,” said Rusne.
When asked if the children were affected by the Dec 7 earthquake with 6.7 magnitude, Rusne said they felt tremors but the home did not sustain any damage.
“All the children ran outside when the ground started shaking and stayed there until the tremors stopped,” he said.
At the time of visit, the children were not at the home, having gone back to their villages for a two-week school holiday.