12 Mar 2010, 6:22

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What about a former rebel as a tourist guide?

The Tsunami in 2004 nearly washed the Aceh province of Indonesia. It has been restored now, and a new travel company has started hiring the former guerilla rebels as tourist guides. Chad Bouchard – a reporter from Aceh actually accompanied the former warriors to their old hideouts inside the jungle.
A foot soldier, Yuni,  became a tourist guide and gives now a vivid account of severe battles in the dense forest. Yuni and many others like him was a part of the atrocious civil war that went on for three decades. During those times, they mastered the survival as well as the mountaineering skills to overcome the Indonesian army. Today, those skills are helping them to lead tourists through the deep jungles acting as guides for them. The visitors are usually foreign aid workers who live in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh. Most of these moderately priced jungle treks are usually taken by these foreign aid workers.
With the Tsunami in 2004, the entire scenario changed and the Indonesian Government decided to sign a peace deal with the rebels within a few months. Thus, former combatants were left helpless with hardly any skills for earning a peaceful living. The next was to follow the reconstruction of the province that resulted in pouring of millions of dollars into the local economy but with time the money began to dry up and job opportunities became tougher.
Finally, the rebels thought of enrolling with Aceh Explorer Adventure Tours as tourist guides for trekkers heading towards the jungle. The founder of Aceh Explorer Adventure Tours, Mendel Pols who is a Dutch citizen said that they were not able to fetch investors here in Aceh previously but due to the history of the fierce battle and the tough jungle treks, they have ultimately come across few responses. The company presently runs with more than 20 guides and arranges various jungle trips every week.




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