A lesson learnt from my experience of the Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia
Abdullah ibn Umar RA stated, the Prophet Muhammad pbuh said, “If Allah wants to torture a group of people, then the people who (not guilty) would be affected with them, too. Then they will be resurrected according to their deeds.” (Hadits narrated by Muslim).
Although this experience is 9 years old the impact of it will stay fresh with me forever.
The Tsunami hit Aceh, Indonesia on Sunday December 26, 2004 at around 9 am. No one has ever heard about the word Tsunami. On that day, many people were going about their business as usual. Weddings, soccer games, families sitting down for breakfast, and those who lived closed to the beach enjoyed themselves even more because there were so many large fish, which normally needed to be fished in deep waters, were now available right on the beach! But as this all happened. The sea swelled up and swallowed the land and the people on it. Subhannallah. The soldier of Allah is acting on the command of Allah swt.
As the sea unraveled, only after two days did Jusuf Kalla the Vice President of Indonesia flew to Aceh by helicopter. Seeing his determination to help the victims, I too was motivated to go and help my fellow citizens.
So, off I went along with eight of my friends. The process normally quite lengthy, because of my friendship with an airlines personnel I was able to obtain 8 free tickets to go and help people in Aceh!
It was during our transit in Medan, the adjoining province to Aceh, did we buy small supplies such as flip-flops, small handy tables, storybooks, prayer garments, clothing, money, instant foods, baby and woman needs, and also three big boxes of medicine.
When we arrived in Aceh, many dead body laid in everywhere. They looked like pale mannequins. There were also panic people surrounding them. Women who were crying loudly, looking for their family, children who were screaming and calling their parents, their brothers or sisters! Ohh… we cried from morning until night, our bodies mechanically worked and helped as much as we could, but our minds were blank, totally blank! Everyone was in a state of stupor. Could this be a glimpse of the hereafter?
One of the volunteers vomited again and again and wanted to go back home. I told him to go back by swimming! It would be a month until the next flight for volunteers. Right now only victims and foreign troups were allowed to leave. The priority was for the volunteers and Indonesian troops to help the victims and their family. The effect of the Tsunami was shockingly devastating!
A Day by Day Count
On the first day, we could not think for hours, we did not have any idea, what we should do first! But the TNI corps (Indonesian army ) showed a very quick response. They gave us approximately 200 children around 2 to 15 years of aged, who lost their families, and some of men built temporary tents for kids and women. Four ladies (including me), cooked for 500 people every day. We cooked without thinking. After cooking we entertained and told story to calm them down. We gave them love, hugged them, slept with them, and held them tightly.
Many children got traumatic when they saw mineral water in a cup, they did not want to see water. So when they drunk they closed their eyes and cried, and we fed them spoon by spoon! The most scared that people felt was, how if the second tsunami comes. I remember, we slept under the sky in front of the ruin building, even many people asked me to sleep in the old hotel, but I was worried that the second tsunami would come…..
After 5 days slept outside, I felt a bit of a fever, and I decided to sleep inside the ruin building. But when I slept for half an hour, I felt the wall shook about 90 degrees, and I held many children and brought them out down the stairs. Oh I remember, the spirit made me feel so stronger! I just thought how do we help , help , help…. and give them secure.
I re -wrote a rhyme, a song, and changed the lyrics sadly, and we sang together before the children slept to make them a bit happy and motivated, though we knew their families had lost and died. After a week in Aceh, I could control myself. There were no smell of dead bodies…. because the salt water prevented decaying. Subhanallah…
Every morning we came to the shelter post to check the newest list of people who were found. We allowed the children around 5 to 14 years to check the pictures of their families that published on the wall post. This was a sad moment …when we saw they did not find any of their families. Everyday… they waited for someone to pick them up… but nobody came…sometimes they would hug someone who looked like their mothers. I was speechless….. I had no idea what should I do to cheer them up. I knew that they did not have anyone.
I called my husband if he allowed me to bring them as our adopted children. My husband allowed me to bring many of them. I planned to share with my relatives in Jakarta, but the local government decided to prohibit people to take them away from Aceh. They had spirit to educate the children and rebuilt Aceh together, for the future of Aceh. So, my friends (Lovely: Azure, Badru, Nur, Khotib, Lina, Sumardi, Syafri) and I, built the ‘ Aceh School ‘, from elementary until high school. Until now, we have thousands of students and local Aceh’s teachers that we still take care of, monitor, and donate regularly from Jakarta, alhamdulillah…..
Finally…., whatever tragedy is…… it will make our heart soften, not selfish, more humble, more empathy, and more struggles, because we will feel grateful with our condition right now, compare to others…
Abu Hurairoh Radiyallahu Anhu stated, Muhammad Rasulullah pbuh said. “If Allah loves a servant, He gives ordeal that Allah would hear his/her tadhorru (moans asking Him) (Hadits narrated by Baihaqi).