Following the destruction of the October 2010 tsunami, many families are finding it difficult to find the motivation to rebuild their lives and communities. Many were left to contemplate how they would survive the ordeal. This story is about how one woman and her family are managing to survive the destruction of the tsunami by taking advantage of the opportunities and activities SurfAid International is providing ...
Before the tsunami struck, Ibu Esri, a mother of two, and her husband worked hard to provide food for their family. Each day, Esri would go to the fields to find bananas, taro and firewood. She would often be gone for hours and would have no qualms about leaving her two children in the care of her mother. In Mentawai culture, a mother is responsible to nurture and protect her family, and having such responsibility is generally executed with pride and grace.
But that all changed on the night of Monday 25 October, when the tsunami struck their village of Berilou, destroying 69 of the 175 houses.
While Esri and her husband did not lose their house in the tsunami, they were affected in other ways. Since the disaster they have not been able to go fishing or tend the fields because they are too scared to leave their children, Theresea and David - and they worry that another tsunami will come. Concern about finding ways to support the family has intensified the couple’s symptoms of stress. With a lack of adequate, nutritious food being available, this family is among many that are trying their hardest to overcome this setback.
Like many mothers, Esri is reluctant to leave her children’s side. Wherever she goes her children are always with her.
“My children are too afraid to play outside with their friends; they’d rather stay at home with me even if they have nothing to do. It is difficult to entertain them because I have work to do,” Esri said.
The aftermath of the tsunami is continuing to disrupt the culture and traditions in many other Mentawai homes. Communities are confused, scared and still shocked. Trying to make decisions and survive has been a very challenging process.
Since the implementation of SurfAid’s Psychosocial Support (PSS) program in Berilou village, children are now participating in fun and educational activities. “The SurfAid team has made a big impact on me, my family, and the community,” Esri said. Over the past month, Esri’s participation in the PSS activities has led her to become one of SurfAid’s first volunteers in Berilou. “We have never had any international organisations in our village before,” she said.
Ibu Esri now attends every activity and is a key figure in leading community meetings. Her enthusiasm and dedication is a great example for SurfAid and the community. Next month, Ibu Esri will have the opportunity to attend early childhood education training to strengthen her knowledge of psychosocial support and build her confidence to act as support for her community and family.
And with the help of SurfAid’s shelter team, the whole village is now being rebuilt on higher ground two kilometres inland - safe from a tsunami.
- Stacey Howe