“We were all running, we just kept running and running. I fell several times but kept getting up and started running again.”

Aisha Hasan remembers the tsunami very clearly, and says thinking about it, even ten years on, makes her feel terrified. She was at home in Blang Krueng when she saw the huge swell of water heading towards her.

Food beside her as she slept

“I thought it was the end of the world. The water was black and fast,” she said.

“When I was running I didn’t turn around. I watched other people run, and saw many who fell, afraid it was my family. Later, we saw dead bodies everywhere; on the ground, some were stuck on fences and in trees. My daughter survived only because she got stuck in a coconut tree.” 

Islamic Relief started working with Aisha less than a year after the tsunami, building her a new home.

Islamic Relief started working with Aisha less than a year after the tsunami, building her a new home.

Aisha ran to nearby Darussalam mosque. Her family followed, but only two of her children made it to safety. Aisha lost nine family members in the disaster. She originally went to the mosque for refuge but stayed there for five months, sleeping on the floor where she felt safe.

“I didn’t know who was giving out the food there. Sometimes even if I was sleeping, someone just put the food beside me,” she said.

“We didn’t have anywhere else to go. We went back to the village to start cleaning up. We started to make a temporary wooden house. We collected and used the wood washed in by the water. I was also a coordinator for the Cash for Work programme in this village to clean the tsunami debris. We used the money made to buy nails and equipment to build temporary homes.

Gaining a new home

“Soon others started to have the confidence to return. Then, after I moved in, we heard that permanent houses would be rebuilt and widows would be prioritised. Mine was the first one built as we had already cleared the land. The builders put their construction materials on my land too, and I cooked for them.

“Less than a year after the tsunami, we were in our new home. We were grateful, especially as we still had a lot of family members. Now, my nephew and nieces stay with me as their mother died. Without this house, they wouldn’t have anywhere to stay.”

Islamic Relief built Aisha’s home and helped by giving her cooking equipment.

“We thank God that we survived the disaster; we got a lot of help with the house, food, and clothes. We hope God rewards all those who helped us.”