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A family with a missing child struggles to recover after the 7.4 earthquake hit Indonesia

, , / 3 weeks ago
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Two months after a powerful earthquake and tsunami rocked Indonesia, life has been slow to return to normal for more than 170,000 people who remain displaced across Central Sulawesi.


In Sigi 70% of the population are farmers. The farms have been swallowed by muds and irrigation system has been damaged due to liquefaction.  

Farming Communities are affected and struggle to get back on their feet

Some 1,300 people are still missing and, in the countryside, entire villages still lie in ruins. Farmland has been decimated and irrigation systems that allowed the crops to grow completely destroyed.

Aslam, a 39-year-old father from a village some 15kilometres south of Palu, lost his home and his farmland. He now lives in a tent with his wife, 34-year-old Setriani and his two surviving children – his 16-year-old daughter Agustin and his 13-year-old son Safar.


Two months after, an Indonesia quake survivor continues to grapple as his family is still grieve from his missing child and struggle to recover after left homeless with no farm to go back to. Aslam, a farmer and father of three, and his family remain in pain as they still haven’t found his 10-year-old child, Siti. “I wish that one day my daughter, Siti, would come back and be with us. But I know, at some point, my wish is impossible,” 39-year-old Aslam says.

1,300 people including children are still missing

His youngest daughter, 10-year-old Siti, is missing. When the earthquake happened, the ground liquified, creating waves of molten mud. The family managed to cling onto a banana tree and survive, but they fear that Siti have been swallowed up by the mud. Sixty days after the catastrophe she is still missing and the family feels unable to go back to their home and their land.

“My name is Aslam. I have three children. Unfortunately, because of what happened, only two are left. My other child is missing. Her name is Siti. She is 10 years old. The last time I saw her was when she was gripping a huge banana trunk. It was when the ground started to melt. She was trying to survive the big waves of mud and debris from our house and our neighbours’ homes. I witnessed her struggling.

She was shouting for help but the big waves of mud took us to different direction. I wasn’t able to save her. I wasn’t able to save my child. When the liquefaction (of the mud) ended, I had to do a head count of my family. I found my wife and two children alive, but Siti was nowhere to be found.

We were searching for her everywhere. We asked around. We went to different tent sites. My two other children started digging the ground, hoping that we would be lucky and find her. But we were unsuccessful. After 10 days of searching, we decided to stop looking for her. We are afraid that she was buried alive. I wish that one day my daughter, Siti, would come back and be with us. But I know, at some point, it will become impossible. I miss her. I hope she is fine wherever she is.

 


Aslam, a farmer and father of three, and his family remain in pain as they still haven’t found his 10-year-old child, Siti. “I wish that one day my daughter, Siti, would come back and be with us. But I know, at some point, my wish is impossible,” 39-year-old Aslam says.

 

Aside from grieving for our missing child. I’m worried about how to start again.

How can I give my family a comfortable life when all the things we invested in are gone? Everything has been destroyed. All the equipment that we invested in has gone. We don’t even have a penny. We are dependent on the help given to us by different people and by aid organizations. I no longer have a place to grow food. I don’t know how to do any other work aside from farming. It’s what my family has done and lived off for decades.

I am not sure how I can provide the needs of my family, particularly my children who are in school… how much longer I can hold on in this situation. We don’t have anything to start again with. My family is in distress. We haven’t gotten back to where our house was erected. I haven’t visited my farm even. It feels ironic that the place where we used to feel comfortable now gives us so much discomfort. Our house and farm used to sustain us. But now, we are afraid to go back or even visit to check how it s.

We are more at peace living in the tent, for now, though it isn’t as comfortable as what we used to have. It gets hot at noon and very cold in the evening. We have been living here for two months now. Our bed is made out of bamboo that we salvaged after the liquefaction. We make use of makeshift rice sacks to cover the ground and protect our bodies.

I know what we have now is temporary. I hope things will get better soon, especially for my wife and children. I hope Siti is in a safe place – wherever she might be.”

 

Islamic Relief and its local partners are on the ground, providing much-needed aid for families affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

So far we have helped 9,000 people, including Aslam’s family, by distributing food kits water, hygiene kits, tarpaulin, blanket and cash grants in, Palu, Sigi, and Donggala, Central Sulawesi.

You can read more about our Sulawesi Emergency Response here.

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