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For immediate release
22 January 2005

Father Chrysostomos Manalu (left) and
OP Director Christopher Ebe (third from left)
meet with Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) officials
at their headquarters in Medan to
discuss relief coordination.

Hong Kong (OP) - With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas, OP Director Christopher Ebe met with Indonesian Orthodox clergy and a Europe-based International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) representative in Medan last week to identify gaps in the current relief efforts and find ways to forge partnerships with existing efforts. The Needs Assessment Team traveled to the hardest hit Indonesian province of Aceh, where nearly 170,000 people have perished, to meet with humanitarian agency representatives, survey the devastation and determine how best to administer additional relief.

The team met first with the Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI - Indonesian Red Cross) in Medan to obtain information on the Indonesian national relief effort. The PMI expressed an interest in partnering with the Orthodox Church on its Aceh relief projects. The team also met with the coordinator of logistics at the Medan International airport. This airport now serves as the main entry point for international relief headed towards Aceh, and has seen its daily activity soar 500% to 120 landings daily, far beyond its capacity.

The team spent time discussing the ongoing work being done by the Orthodox Community in Medan. Under the direction of Father Chrysostomos Manalu, an Indonesian Orthodox priest who has parochial responsibility for the stricken area, the Metropolitanate has been making 20-ton "truck runs" weekly from Medan to some of the neglected communities in Aceh. Deliveries include items such as rice, dried noodles, and lanterns. Upcoming shipments will include traditional Indonesian clothing, personal hygiene items, and local baby food. These deliveries are unique in that they specifically target neglected areas with solicited goods. Affected people receive exactly what they need to survive.

A view of a once congested part of
the coastal city of Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
Very few structures remain standing
and a large amount of debris remains underwater,
due to the massive tsunami and daily heavy rain.

The Needs Assessment Team then went to Banda Aceh to assess the devastation and meet with additional humanitarian relief organizations. "The damage within three kilometers of the coast can only be described as apocalyptic," commented OP Director Christopher Ebe, "there was nothing left except endless piles of debris."

The IOCC/OMHKSEA partnership has been supporting Church World Service (CWS) on its relief effort in Aceh. As a result of the direct financial and material support of the IOCC/OMHKSEA partnership, CWS has been distributing hygiene kits (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc.) to displaced people in some small camps and within host families — both are places not targeted by larger aid organizations. CWS also runs a mobile health clinic and conducts psychological/social/mental health missions. The Needs Assessment Team was invited to participate in a hygiene kit distribution and on a mobile clinic mission during its visit.

In the coming weeks, the Needs Assessment Team will be constructing a detailed report. IOCC and the OMHKSEA will tailor their additional relief accordingly. In the meantime, the OMHKSEA will continue to support the efficient targeted "truck runs" made by the Orthodox Community in Medan, and will seek further ways to strengthen ties with other Medan-based relief organizations.

The "Asian Orthodox Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund", established by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas immediately after the disaster, has already distributed thousands of dollars to help affected people in India, Indonesia and Thailand. To make a donation to the OMHKSEA relief fund, please make out a check to: "Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia" and send it to our main office (address in header above). On the memo line of the check or elsewhere, please mention "Earthquake and Tsunami Fund" so that your contribution can be allocated appropriately. All contributions will be receipted by the OMHKSEA.

The OP currently coordinates and supports projects and partnerships in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand. For more information on this relief effort or our other project sites in the region, please contact OP headquarters via phone at + 852 2573 8328 or email at


For media inquiries, please contact OP Director Christopher Ebe via phone at +852 2573 8328 or email at

Both photos should be credited to: Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia