Donate ▸

Five years of hard work, together

Indonesia, December 23, 2009

Share this story:
  • tumblr
  • pinterest
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Nurhayati in her rice field near the village of Rima Jeunue, Indonesia Photo: Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps

My name is Nurhayati. I'm 52 years old, and I live in the village of Rima Jeunue, Indonesia.

Five years ago, my life changed forever.

Five years ago, Mercy Corps helped me begin to reclaim what I'd lost.

When the Indian Ocean Tsunami struck this area, I was gathering firewood in the hills above my village. Because of that, I survived — but I lost my children, my son-in-law, my grandchildren, and most of my neighbors.

The seawater stood over the ruins of my village for five days. I stayed up in the hills, taking shelter with other survivors however we could, until the water subsided. Only then were we able to come down off the hills, but nothing was left in our village, only the foundations of our houses.

We all found our way to displacement camps that had been set up for tsunami survivors. This was the first time I came into contact with Mercy Corps. An emergency response team gave me shelter materials, bedding and cooking supplies in those first few difficult days.

Honestly, I never thought I'd never return to Rima Jeunue after that — after all, there was nothing left but the pain of so much loss. But, again, Mercy Corps offered help to my neighbors and me: We got jobs to clean the debris from the streets and begin rebuilding our homes through a cash-for-work program. And so we returned to our village within weeks of the tsunami.

Over the months and years of hard work that followed, Mercy Corps was there every step of the way: helping us reorganize a women's group, working with local banks to give us easier access to loans that helped us rebuild, and frequently visiting our village to make sure everything was going well.

Today, our houses are standing again. Business has returned to Rima Jeunue. And Mercy Corps is still helping us by offering technical advice on how we can double our rice harvest to gain more income and better feed our families.

I lost just about everything and everyone I had to the tsunami. But, every day since then, Mercy Corps has stayed and worked alongside us – and in doing so they became like our family. We've shared many joys and sorrows since that tragic day.

And today, we're sharing in the success of rebuilt villages. New businesses. Reclaimed lives.

Thank you for being there for us — and with us.