Banda Aceh, One Year After the Tsunami
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JOHN IRVINE: He is less than a minute old; after all the misery and grief, the cry of new life is not only cherished here but eagerly sought. One year on and Banda Aceh is enjoying a baby boom.
The doctor said that sheer human instinct persuaded couples who had lost children in the tsunami to have more.
But many of the newcomers have not been born to an easy life. The tsunami made 600,000 people here homeless. In this camp we find Kuz Mijata and her three-week-old baby. Her two other children were killed by the wave.
KUZ MIJATA (Translated): We decided to have a baby as soon as possible because we tried to move on. But sometimes the sadness strikes me when I remember those two kids that were lost.
JOHN IRVINE: Among the problems here is that land on which thousands of homes once stood is now either seabed or uninhabitable swamp. That said, reconstruction is gathering pace where possible, and the experts are satisfied that the world’s largest charitable donation is not being squandered.
DOUG KEATING, OXFAM: We’re very happy with the relationships we have where the money is being spent. We are rigorously audited by outside auditors internally, and I think, really, the work is going on. Look behind you, the job is getting done and I can confidently say that to people.
JOHN IRVINE: Off the southwestern coast fishermen are back at sea. In pulverized villages, mosques that were structural sole survivors no longer stand alone. This one is used as a kindergarten although there are few children. The teacher doesn’t talk about the tsunami and the boys don’t ask.
Nearby, mass graves, a callous necessity a year ago, are now neat and tended, fitting memorials at the heart of small communities where people are trying to make the most of having lived.
What they went through is so cataclysmic the rest of us still find it unimaginable.
There are pictures of the tsunami coming ashore in Thailand and elsewhere, but none from here in Indonesia. So how big was it? Well, look at the evidence. This tree is one of very few left standing here. The tsunami ripped off most of its branches. By my reckoning, that makes the wave at least 70 feet high at this particular point.
In terms of infrastructure it will take years to undo what the tsunami did; 6,000 miles of road were destroyed, although this one, the coastal highway, is manageable once more, even if it does now follow a different path.
Retracing the steps of a year ago, we return to the remnants of another village. Last December we couldn’t discover its name for there was nobody to ask. But incredibly, there were survivors in Korang and a few of them have come back to new homes on a hillside.
It was by running to higher ground that this woman escaped the wave. She said her four-year-old son was washed away, never to be seen again.
By contrast, this little boy was the only survivor of his family. His adoptive parents who lost four of their own have named him Rakmad; it means blessing. He is a miracle child in the land of the world’s worst recorded natural disaster.
And at the end of the year one post tsunami, those who have come through it are coping as well as anybody could have hoped