When Rubama saw rolling water heading towards her, she grabbed her one-year-old son Sayulis, called to her other two children and ran as fast as she could up a nearby mountain.
“I just thought it was normal water, such as floods or high tides. Others said that the water was as high as coconut trees. We have never seen it before. Then people started to run and we joined them.”
The 35-year-old mother, who lives in Lambaro village in PeukanBada, stayed up in the mountains for two nights.
“The mountain was full of people. The water was very strong. Some people were even pulled back by the water at that time. It destroyed everything,” she said.
The plane was monitoring the situation
“There was nothing on the mountain. We collected some rice that was floating in the water and some sugary water which we fed to Sayulis. We found a baby bottle in the water and we used it for several babies, taking turns to use it. After two nights, I went down from the mountain and saw a plane above. We thought it was there to help us, but now we know it was monitoring the situation.”
She decided to return to her home and start searching for her husband. Her search was unsuccessful; her home was too badly damaged to return to, and she could not find her husband or anybody who had seen him around the time of the tsunami.
“We did not even recognise the road anymore, because houses, bridges, everything was completely washed away. We saw a lot of dead bodies lying there as well.”
Rubama went back to the mountain, living there for three months.
She slept on the ground, and made a hammock from clothes for her children. They started to find fish trapped in the farming areas, which they ate until aid arrived. They were given a tent, setting it up on the mountain for three months. People from the ongoing conflict were in the mountain and helped people, giving medicine to those who became unwell. After three months Rubama’s brother-in-law found them and offered to help. It was the rainy season and Sayulis had become ill and was always crying, so the family accepted and moved into a temporary home near Lambaro.
They stayed in the temporary home for three years until their permanent home had been rebuilt. Islamic Relief helped support them. Sayulis, who is now 11, was one of many children put on Islamic Relief’s One-to-One Orphan Sponsorship scheme and the money helped pay for more food, clothing, and, as he got older, his school equipment as well.
Rubama was able to save some money from the fund to help her other children in their schooling, with Sayulis’ older brother now in secondary school.
“I was very pleased,” she said.
“It is very difficult to save money because we need a lot of things. Sometimes, if my chili crops are good, we can save money for a while, but then it is used up very quickly when the crops finish.
“However, Alhamdulillah, with the money Islamic Relief has given, I can pay for my children’s education and our daily needs.
“I hope the sponsorship can continue. Sayulis has finished fourth grade of primary school and still has a long journey.”