AusAID-funded projects visited by Aussie FM
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State visit: Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr (center) talks to local residents during a visit to a public health center in Gedong Tengen,Yogyakarta,on Saturday.(Antara/Noveradika)
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr visited projects funded by the Australian government overseas aid program, AusAID, in Yogyakarta on Saturday as part of his first official visit to Indonesia.
His first stop was Puskesmas Gedongtengen, a community health center in Yogyakarta municipality that provides methadone treatment to drug addicts who are both HIV/AIDS positive and negative.
He was greeted by Indonesian Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti, Yogyakarta Mayor Haryadi Suyuti and the Puskesmas head Tri Kusumo Bawono. Also in the entourage was his wife Helena Carr and Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty.
“I praise the people who run this public health center,” said Carr after inspecting the Puskesmas.
He also expressed pleasure that drug addicts were not seen as criminals but as persons who were in need of medication so they could have a brighter future.
Separately, Deputy Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti expressed gratitude for the Australian aid, saying that the aid had saved the lives of drug addicts.
“Now they have a new life. Thank you for your assistance,” said Ali Ghufron, adding that Indonesia had also learned a lot from Australia in treating people with HIV/AIDS.
AusAID’s HIV program project officer Lea Suganda said that the same aid had also been extended to two other Puskesmas in Yogyakarta, namely Puskesmas Umbulharjo and Puskesmas Depok 3.
“The aid was given to help prevent and reduce the spread of HIV, improve the quality of people living with HIV and to deal with the social and economic impacts of the condition,” she said.
Through the program, according to Lea, the Australian government provides A$100 million for the project over eight years starting from 2008.
The next stop in Carr’s tour to Yogyakarta was Pentingsari village in Umbulharjo subdistrict, Cangkringan, Sleman, to visit a national community empowerment program (PNPM) through a reconstruction and rehabilitation program for people affected by the 2010 Mount Merapi eruptions.
In a speech, Carr said he and his wife felt privileged to visit Mount Merapi, which was not only beautiful but also dangerous. “I want to congratulate every one of you here in rebuilding your community. It reflects great bravery,” he said.
He also said the Australian government was honored to be able to help in rehabilitation and reconstruction on the slopes of the volcano. “I would say this is what a good neighbor and friend can do,” he added.
Sleman Regent Sri Purnomo said that Cangkringan was the worst-hit district during the latest eruptions of Merapi in 2010, which displaced more than 3,000 families in the region and destroyed livelihoods as everything was covered in volcanic materials.
“Through the PNPM, we are able to reconstruct and rehabilitate roads, bridges, school buildings and provide rolling funds to housewives to help them restart their lives,” said Sri Purnomo, adding that the program was scheduled for completion by 2014.
Australia is one of Indonesia’s biggest donors, pledging A$215 million from 2010 to 2014.