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Indonesia's Embassy in Washington, DC Opens Doors to Community for Condolence Signing

As the magnitude of the destruction in South Asia becomes more understood, the sense of helplessness and worry has brought people together to express both sorrow and hope in Washington's diplomatic community.

It's a half a world away from the devastation in Indonesia, but the sorrow is deep for Darwin Tobing and his wife Martina, who have come to Indonesia's Embassy in Washington to sign the condolence book.

"We are feeling sorry for our brothers and sisters and children in Aceh,” said Darwin. His wife added, "We are shocked by what has happened in the world in this last week. Our heart goes out to all the people who have been affected by the Tsunami and the earthquake."

Harry Prisnadi is visiting the U.S. from Jakarta for his son's graduation from college. "We heard about this disaster in Indonesia. We are very sorry about it."

Steady streams of people have come to express grief and support and to write their thoughts.

Indonesian press secretary Riaz Saehu says a variety of people have come. "We've got visitors from the American people. Also the diplomatic corps, as well as the government institutions and the NGO's (non governmental organizations) and the Indonesian community."

Isweni Bakri works in the embassy's Educational and Cultural Division. She is here today with her daughter to be with friends. She says she lost 250 members of her extended family. "This is a picture of my beautiful niece. She died too. It's so sad, it's so sad."

Not far away at the Embassy of Sri Lanka, an interfaith religious service honored the dead.

Ambassador Davinda Subasinghe says the Sri Lanka community here needs to know help is on the way, especially from the United States. "I think there is a sense of helplessness and despair in some that I am hearing. The United States has been responsive immediately.”

He continued, “I was in contact with Deputy Secretary of State Armitage Sunday morning and we had a conversation about what our needs are. And I must say that the delivery of those requirements has been precise, timely and continuing. And that will ramp up over the next days and weeks.”

It will be some time before things here seem back to normal too.