BANDA ACEH – “Every time I see female tourists between 20 and 30 years-old, especially Malaysian tourists, I will hug them as I really miss my children who were killed in the tsunami 13 years ago,” said Mariana Yusof.
Mariana,52, lost her three daughters and two sons, between 10 and 19 years-old and her husband in the tsunami in 2004.
Mariana who lives in Kampung Lampulo said before the tsunami, the village had 6,000 residents, but now it only has 1,500 residents, including herself.
Recounting the ordeal, she said, on the morning of the tragic day, she was in the compound of her housevwith other family members.
“Suddenly, we heard villagers shouting for us to flee…the situation was terrible. I thought it was already doomsday. It was very noisy…everyone was screaming for help. Everyone was just thinking of their safety.
“Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of the sea under heaps of rubbish. All sorts of items were floating such as cars, sofas, motorcycles, trees, wood, sharp items and people who were swept away by the current.
“The rubbish was swept by the tsunami which was as high as a coconut tree. Its currents were very strong andv if you could swim, it was hard to survive in the sea that was like a massive rubbish dump.
“I left my fate to Allah and repeatedly said the ‘syahada’ (Muslim declaration of faith) as I was only thinking of death,” said Mariana who was lost at sea for seven hours before being rescued by fishermen.
Following the incident, they were forced to stay in tents for a year before given houses donated by the world community.
“Until now, it is hard for me to talk about the disaster as I will end up in tears thinking of my family. I am left all alone now. I am glad that tourists understand the reason I greet and hug them is only to release my longing for my children.”
She was met by reporters in a visit by ‘Kembara Dakwah Media Terengganu’ to Kampung Lampulo to show sympathy to the tsunami victims while building closer ties between Acheh and Terengganu.
After the tsunami, Kampung Lampulo that is situated at a seaside became a new tourist attraction in Aceh due a fishing boat which was stranded on the roof of a house.
Its government proclaimed the village as a historical tourism area showing remnants of the tsunami devastation.
Some 59 tsunami victims also survived the tragedy when they sought shelter in the fishing boat, including Bundiya Sahar, 67, and her four children.
Bundiya who was selling fish at the fishing pier said she and her children ran and found shelter in the house of a wealthy family that was situated on high ground.
“After a while, strong currents swept a fishing boat towards us and landed on the roof of the house that we had taken refuge in.
“At that time, there were already some people in the boat. They rescued us by pulling us into the boat,” she said.
Both Mariana and Bundiya thanked Malaysians who were the majority number of tourists to Aceh since the disaster and had contributed much in terms of money and manpower to the redevelopment of Aceh.