Peace 20 October 2016 Yayasan SHEEP Indonesia

Village Election in Tanah Karo Simalem

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People’s hope for new leaders

Tuesday, 11 October 2016. Almost all refugee centres are busy. This s not like any other day where only children and the elderly are visible. That day, all people gather to make their choice in the village chief election in Tanah Karo.


Out of six centres, only one is not involved in the election (Kuta Tengah Village, Simpang Empat Sub-district - GPDI Ndokum Siroga Centre). The other five centres are busy wih election (Korpri centre from Kuta Gugung Village, KNPI centre from Suka Nalu Vilage, GBKP Simpang Enam centre from Sigarang-garang Village, Jambur Tongkoh centre from Kuta Rayat Village and Gudang Konco centre from Mardingding Village, Tiganderket Sub-district).

People are enthusiastic about the election, as evident by their sheer number of participation in polling booths. They have waited for this opportunity for a long time. They are eager to select new leader to lead them out of their current problems since eruption six years ago. They feel that the government is too slow in managing the emergency and recovery in Tanah Karo. Many people chose to stay in their old village in order to survive and to earn an income. They work on the land, growing vegetables, oranges and coffee. They open up the forest to set up new agriculture, as old agricultural areas are damaged by the eruption.

Life is uncertain as they intend to stay in their old village while their children have to stay at the camps to pursue their study without parents’ supervision. This is a major concerns for the parents because they could not personally monitor children’s education. But, they have to work on the land in order to meet basic needs of life and pay for children’s education. They do not rely on government handouts, not in the past and not now. Government aids are only trickling to the camps, managed by disaster management team and village officials. And the latter do not always manage wisely. People feel that village government is not entirely transparent about aids, as officials seek personal gain without much concern for people’s welfare.

People hope for the best to come out of the village election. As Nisa from Kuta Gugung Village, Naman Teran Sub-district suggests, the election should showcase the most capable of local leaders. There must be transparency in village fund management, and about aid coming into the village. The same hope is evident in the statement of Mr Ramal from Sigarang-garang Village. He hopes that the new leader will channel their aspiration to the government, particularly about their future. Mr Ramal remains in the village and he is separated from his child who stays in the centre in order to continue his education.

Survivors of Mount Sinabung eruption had to flee many times in the last six years. The last time, they ended up staying for 16 months in temporary camps without any assurance of their future. They did not receive any relocation funds or have any information about future settlements. They long for a leader with a strong vision of the path to personal dignity, and to getting their life together. (Tina & Evi)

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