Tsunami response – Aceh

Photo credit: Ian Woolverton

Too many bodies by Ian Woolverton in The Guardian
Hit by the aftershock by Ian Woolverton in The Guardian
A welcome deluge by Ian Woolverton in The Guardian
Precious water flows in Meulaboh by Ian Woolverton
A cruel sea leaves little to salvage by Ian Woolverton
A chance to say goodbye by Ian Woolverton
A beacon of light in remote Aceh by Ian Woolverton
Taking care of the family by Ian Woolverton
Red Cross steps up aid efforts in Aceh by Ian Woolverton
Permaculture takes root in Aceh by Ian Woolverton
Returning to Aceh by Ian Woolverton
Women's rights take centre stage by Ian Woolverton
Oxfam turns on water by Ian Woolverton


My biggest challenge was reporting for International Red Cross from tsunami-affected Aceh.

I arrived in Banda Aceh days after the tsunami claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and left many more homeless.  My role, through writing stories and giving interviews, was to inform the world's media and public about Red Cross Red Crescent activities to assist the people affected by the disaster.


During a 5-week deployment I travelled the length and breadth of the province. I interviewed dozens of tsunami survivors as well as Red Cross Red Crescent aid workers and filed stories for newspapers including The Guardian & The Sunday Times.

I journeyed with CNN & BBC news crews on light planes, helicopters and even landed on USS Abraham Lincoln – an aircraft carrier stationed off Aceh’s coast.

I met people who cried on my shoulder and pleaded for food. I was airlifted by Chinook from a remote airstrip outside Meulaboh, dealt with unscrupulous journalists who shoved cameras into the faces of dying children, gave dozens of media interviews, lost a lot of weight and gained a new life perspective.

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami I've returned to Aceh many times to report on the progress of reconstruction and rebuilding for Red Cross and Oxfam.