Indonesia: Survivor recalls hope and tragedy behind 2004 tsunami

News and Press Release
Originally published
By Sarah Pate

MEULABOH, Indonesia - For Ahmad Dadek, the responsibility of being a parent came sooner than expected.

As mayor of Meulaboh, Indonesia, his city was dealt a severe blow when the 2004 tsunami wiped out thousands of homes and businesses and claimed the lives of more than 15,000 people, including seven of his own family members.

"The tsunami killed my brother's wife. Nine months later, my brother passed away," Dadek explained.

Ironically, through the loss of his brother and sister-in-law, Dadek would gain the hope of a new family.

"I've been married for 10 years and had no children... and now I have three," he said, having assumed guardianship of his brother's children ages 11, 6 and 3.

"We have to realize that God works everything out for our good. Now, I have a responsibility for their future."

Since the tsunami, however, Dadek's responsibility has extended far beyond his new role of father to three.

After his district lost more than 10,000 homes, Dadek appealed for help.

Internally, Indonesia's Board of Reconstruction and Rehabilitation provided his district with 150 new homes; however it was largely the work of international NGOs, including Operation Blessing, which impacted his community the most, collectively building more than 2,000 new homes.

"My people did not understand that it is the NGOs who are helping us," Dadek explained. "After the tsunami, there were many dead bodies here. One thing that really impressed me was that OBI came and fogged all the houses in affected areas to prevent malaria.

"The World Health Organization (WHO) has since announced that outbreaks have stopped and disease prevention has been successful. And OBI had a major hand in this."

Dadek also credits OBI with bringing medicine and doctors, distributing food, and helping to build boats, houses and other livelihood projects.

"We still have problems...but I hope you will remain. We still need you," he said.

Since the 2004 tsunami, OBI has supplied devastated areas with more than $27 million in medicine; purchased fogging machines for mosquito control and malaria prevention; provided medical treatment to more than 180,000 tsunami victims; helped build hundreds of new homes throughout Aceh's west coast provinces; created microenterprise opportunities such as brick factories and boat building projects; and constructed new medical clinics.

Relief and recovery efforts to date have benefited more than 850,000 survivors.

How You Can Help

Two years after the 2004 tsunami, many survivors are still in desperate need of medical care, homes and jobs to help rebuild their lives. You can help OBI continue to bring relief to those in need by making a financial donation today toward OBI's tsunami relief programs throughout Southeast Asia.