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Friday, February 25, 2005

Turkish bakery adds to perplexing aid efforts in Indonesia's Aceh

"Undeterred by the fact that Acehnese people do not normally eat bread, the bakery has joined one of several unusual and often perplexing contributions to the operation to help survivors of the December 26 disaster.With Scientologists offering therapeutic massage, Norwegian troops leading Chinese T'ai Chi classes and others providing yoga sessions, some of the assistance may seem out of place in Aceh, a conservative Islamic region.

Wiping sweat from his flour-smudged face, Ulqur from Istanbul and his colleagues are adamant that 7,000 loaves handed out daily by the Turkish "Free Bread for Aceh" programme are doing some good. After their rescue and medical treatment, "the second thing they need is this," Turkey liaison officer Feridun Albayrak pointed to his stomach.That may be more important than the others."The bakery opened for business without much fanfare on Monday night, a week after a freighter loaded the eight-foot high oven, mixers, kneaders, trays and water purifiers set sail from a Turkish port.Like the rest of Indonesia, Aceh's survivors are more accustomed to rice or noodles. But the Turks are unperturbed, planning to double their output within two weeks when the rest of the bakers arrive to run the oven 24 hours a day.Turkish bread "is healthy food," Albayrak said.Unlike the other foreign governments and agencies who are here in Aceh province for the short term, "we will be running this bakery for six years," Albayrak said, an operation expected to cost millions of dollars.Turkish bakers, who will rotate out every 45 days, will hire more local staff, eventually training them to take over."

Turkish bakery adds to perplexing aid efforts in Indonesia's Aceh