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Calgary - Sugiharto Usman, a landed immigrant from the Sumatra region of Indonesia, lost a large segment of his family in the December 26th earthquake and Tsunami.

His union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), issued an appeal for funds so that Usman could travel back to Indonesia to search for relatives.

CUPE Local 40 President Drake Hammill said that as of yesterday, over $8,000 in donations have been collected for Usman. The funds include $5,000 from various CUPE Locals, and almost $3,000 from the staff and parents at the schools where Usman works.

“The response has been terrific,” said Hammill. “We’ve raised more than we needed.” Hammill said extra funds would be given to the Red Cross Indonesian relief effort.

Usman intends to fly back to Indonesia on the first available flight next week.

“Sugi was overwhelmed by the response,” said Hammill. “I don’t think he was expecting or prepared for the outpouring of support. I know his phone hasn’t stopped ringing.”

The Calgary Board of Education has agreed to give Usman a month off with pay, and they also arranged for Usman to get the necessary vaccinations for the trip.