ACTNews, SIGI – Sorrow was still looming over Palu when we, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT)’s Medical and Psychosocial Support team from Sigi Humanitarian Post visited evacuation camp in Dusun 1, Sibera Village, Biromaru Sib-District, Sigi on Thursday (11/1).
A heartbreaking story came from a ninety-year-old woman, Nursiah. Amidst 38 tents and 138 evacuees, Nursiah lived alone. The team heard of Nursiah from one of local government’s officials namely Muhammad Azir. He facilitated us to meet and talk with Nursiah.
When we arrived at her tent, there were not many things inside. There was only a thin mattress, blanket, pillow, and some clothes folded and piled neatly. Near the entrance, there was a staff to help her walk. She stared vacantly, for her sight is gradually failing.
Nursiah told us that she had been all too familiar with sadness since she was young. When she was only 40-day-old, her parents passed away. Even in her old age, she lost her eldest child.
“I have only one child left, his name is Amuli and he’s still unmarried,” said Nursiah, beginning her story.
Even before the disasters that struck Central Sulawesi, Nursiah and her son lived below poverty line. Two days prior to the earthquake, Nursiah told us, she had only boiled bananas to eat. Rice was something she could barely afford.
Alone in the face of earthquake
The moment when the earthquake was shaking, Nursiah was in her house with Amuli. Unfortunately, he ran for safety and left his mother alone. Nursiah tried to run, but she was too frail and fell down at in front of the door.
At that very moments, Nursiah saw the ground split and rippled. She could only cry until finally one of her neighbors saw her and cerried her to Pombowe Village evacuation camp where Nursiah and other evacuees spent the night.
The next day, when the news of tsunami spread and brought fear to the hearts of the evacuees, Nursiah was carried to a higher place until it was safe enough to go back to Pombowe Village evacuation camp. The situation was not getting any better for Nursiah. For four days, she had no water for her to take a shower.
Finally, one of Nursiah’s relatives took her to Sibera Village evacuation camp. “Here, finally I can take a shower. The villagers gave me a toothbrush and soap. But I am too traumatized to take a shower inside. They will draw the water from the well for me to take a shower outside,” she said in thick Sulawesi accent.
Where is Amuli now?
A month after the disaster, Nursiah had not met Amuli. Whether he’s dead or alive, Amuli was not really sure. Recently, some had informed her that they had met Amuli and told him of Nursiah’s whereabouts. Amuli did not respond with anything other than a nod. He had not even visited her mother once.
“Although I miss him very much, he does not want to meet his mama. I can only be patient, and grateful that he is alive,” said Nursiah with teary eyes and shaking lips, trying to hold her sadness.
Nursiah lived alone in her tent. She had nowhere else to go because her house had been destroyed. There was nothing she could salvage from its ruins, not even a pan for her to cook.
Nursiah’s story had left the team baffled. They did not talk much as they were going back to the post. They kept picturing the face of an old mother waiting for the return of her son, and the silent supplications she made every night. They can only hope that The Almighty will give her strength to spend her days.