Meeting the Banda Aceh “tsunami family” five years on

December 24, 2009

masakoReuters Television producer Masako Iijima, one of the many journalists who covered the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, went back to Banda Aceh in Indonesia to reconnect with a family she had met five years ago.
Here’s her story :

When I first met Salawati, she was a speck of bright pink among the pile of gray rubble that used to be her house. She had just returned home an out-of-town trip to find that everything had been washed away by the Indian Ocean tsunami, including her two daughters.

Despite her grief, she let the Reuters Television crew follow her around for days as they filmed how she lived in her tent with a surviving son and husband.

The camera crew filmed her as she went to the “missing persons” board set up at evacuation camps, hopeful of news that her girls had miraculously survived.

She, like many other parents, never found her children nor news of what happened to them.

In the following months, Reuters cameras tracked her progress as she and her family moved out of the tent and into temporary housing and Salawati rebuilt her life, literally, from scratch.

Five years on, the family now lives in a new house built by international aid agencies on the plot of land where their old house used to stand. Salawati even owns a small factory that makes dried,shredded fish, an Indonesian delicacy.

She’s become a regular member of Aceh business delegations seeking to promote local products and recently exhibited her products at a trade fair in Malaysia.

Her husband Nurdin who used to supplement their income by driving a motorbike taxi has become a full-time civil servant in the local Family Planning Agency, replacing one of the many government officials killed in the calamity.

Saputra, her son and only child, is 12 and wants to be a doctor.
Here’s a video shot by Reuters Television and Tommy Ardianshah ahead of the fifth anniversary. Still picture above taken by Reuters Television.

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