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Dec 04th
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Home Feature Stories Help Japan with Love Aceh Five Years Later - Great Love Village I, Panteriek

Aceh Five Years Later - Great Love Village I, Panteriek

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Aceh Five Years Later
Great Love Village I, Panteriek
Great Love Village II, Neuheun
Great Love Village III, Meulaboh
The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 in a Nutshell
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Great Love Village I, Panteriek
A row of temporary stalls mark the location of where the old marketplace in Banda Aceh used to be before the tsunami. The stall on the far right is called Tennis Meatballs. It is standing in for the original stall, which was wiped out in the tsunami. Jaminur, 43, has been running Tennis Meatballs for 17 years.

The day of the tsunami started like countless others for Jaminur. He rose at six o’clock, completed his morning prayers, and made meatballs with his wife, Paridah. Then he left home and took the meatballs to the stall. He went alone that day. His son, Jefri, would usually have gone with him, but he stayed home that morning because of a headache. Little did Jaminur know that he would never see his son or daughter again.

"I crossed the street to buy breakfast soon after I opened up the stall,” Jaminur recalled. “That’s when the earthquake hit.” He was shaken out of his wits. Just as he was wondering whether he should stay put or run home to check on his family, the earth shook again. People shouted that huge waves were rushing in. He scampered with about 50 other vendors to the top floor of the building, just in time to see the streets below disappear under water and debris. He also saw bodies floating by.

Dead bodies and debris clogged up the thoroughfares in Banda Aceh, making passage impossible. Jaminur couldn’t go home. He wandered about in a daze and eventually found his way to a local mosque where he found his grief-stricken wife. She had been running with their two children for safety when waves washed the children away.

The couple’s world was completely turned upside down that day. They had lost their house, their belongings, and most tragically, their children. They did not know how to carry on. The chaos and uncertainty of their lives began to ease only after they moved into the tent city in Jantho. There they waited to relocate to Great Love Village I, under construction in nearby Panteriek.

Jaminur and his wife took up residence in the village in 2006. They also borrowed seven million rupiahs (US$740) to reopen their stall. But business was not what it had been before the disaster. Before the tsunami, the couple easily sold 200 bowls of beef meatballs a day. Now they were lucky to sell just 50 bowls a day. A typical day’s earnings amounted to a paltry 100,000 rupiahs (less than US$11).

Jaminur works hard and thinks fast. It wasn’t long before he hit upon another source of income: He bought used cars, revamped them, and sold them. Soon they were able to buy furniture for their new home. Jaminur and his wife are among the most capable money-makers in the village.

But no amount of money can fill the void left by their lost children. “Even if I work day and night, I can hardly feel less pain,” Jaminur said. Jefri, their son, was nine years old; their daughter, Lia, was only five. They sent photos of the children to TV stations and different organizations in Banda Aceh and Medan, hoping to locate them. But there was no news of them.

It took the couple a very long time to come to terms with the fact that little Jefri and Lia were not coming back. “We’ll never know where the waves carried them,” he said. They hung black-and-white portraits of the children on the wall of their new home, and they dug out the few old photo albums they had to remember them by.

Thankfully, Jaminur’s wife gave birth to a daughter, Laisa Auliah, in 2007. This was fully two years behind the initial baby boom that followed in the wake of the tsunami.

"We’re grateful to Tzu Chi for giving us a place where we can settle down and start over,” Jaminur said as he prepared his meatballs one morning. He plans to open another stall right in the Great Love Village so that his wife can more easily work and care for their daughter.

It appears that the couple has finally freed themselves from the devastation of the tsunami and started their lives anew.


" The journey of a thousand miles begins with one first step. Even the saint was once an ordinary human being. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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