UW News

April 7, 2005

UW community gives nearly $3,500 to tsunami relief

The University community and others have contributed nearly $3,500 to a relief fund to assist Indonesian students affected by last winter’s killer earthquake-tsunami, which ravaged the Indian Ocean basin.

Contributions still can be made to the Aceh Student Assistance Fund to help students at Bogor Agricultural University, an institution with which the UW has had a cooperative program since 1991, according to Randall Kyes, who launched the fund.

Kyes, who is a research associate professor of psychology and head of the division of international programs at the UW’s National Primate Research Center, said contributions will be used to cover tuition, room and board and other miscellaneous expenses of Indonesian students.

Those students, he said, are expected to play key leadership roles over the next 10 years in rebuilding Aceh province, which was at the epicenter of the dual disasters. Local communities in Indonesia lost significant numbers of government officials and professionals such as schoolteachers and hospital workers, according to Kyes.

The Dec. 26 magnitude 9 quake triggered the huge tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean at the speed of a passenger jet, killed more than 174,000 people and left another 106,000 who are still classified as missing.

In addition to cash donations, Kyes said, there is a need among Indonesian clinicians for updated textbooks and manuals that deal with treating psychological disorders and mental health issues.

Kyes, who does field work in Indonesia and in a cooperative program between the UW and Bogor Agricultural University, participated in relief efforts in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province and plans to return there in May. During his previous visit, he worked with several Indonesian relief groups to set up an emergency psychology trauma center in Banda Aceh and in recovering bodies.

After returning from Indonesia he warned of an impending mental health crisis among survivors, particularly children, trying to cope with few resources after losing their families.

Members of the campus community who would like to make contributions to the Aceh Student Assistance Fund may send checks care of Kyes at Box 357330 on campus. Questions about the fund may be directed to Lauren Jorelle, program coordinator at the primate research center, at 206-685-7159.