Life After the Tsunami


As many of you remember, the tsunami of 2004 hit first the coast of Aceh, the northern part of the island of Sumatra which belongs to Indonesia. At that very moment Cut Resmi, a 40-year-old mother of two was planting flowers in her garden. When the waves came, destroying her home, one of her children was swept away, leaving Cut, her husband and their surviving son homeless.

Desperate and hopeless, Cut and her family found refuge in temporary barracks where the Red Cross had set a  psychosocial support program to provide support to survivors in the area. Cut’s situation was especially difficult because her family had lost nearly everything and was completely disconnected from the usual network of friends and extended family which traditionally helps its members overcome a tragedy.

After receiving emotional support for about six months from the American and the Indonesian Red Cross, Cut decided to help fellow survivors in the camp who were still struggling to recover. She trained as a community psychosocial facilitator, helping to organize supportive activities in the shelters. Cut, through her volunteer work found the self-confidence necessary to face an unclear future while putting the past aside.

Slowly, thinking about her surviving young son who still needed he help, she rebuilt her life and went back to her village. A new house was raised on the same lands where the family used to live and Cut, getting stronger, started a small business selling clothes. She didn’t know it yet but she could do more for her community. The tsunami disaster had destroyed more than 400 health facilities and displaced or killed nearly a third of all health workers, leaving the healthcare system in Aceh pretty much non existent.

So when the two Red Crosses came to her village looking for volunteers for a new community-based first aid program, Cut didn’t hesitate. Now, as a health volunteer, she feels empowered by make a huge difference in her community. Before, preventable diseases like dengue or malaria ended up being fatal in Aceh. Cut is proud because she can answer the questions of worried mothers about their children, nutrition or symptoms. Before she might have panicked not knowing what to say or do. But now, Cut has first aid knowledge and knowledge is power. :)


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