|When the tsunami struck, Captain Marice Rambay was a recently-commissioned Salvation Army officer in Indonesia. She was also a qualified nurse and midwife.|
In Gunung Sitoli, the capital city of Nias Island, Captain Rambay established a medical clinic. She says she found the experience hard because she was a long way from her friends and fellow-officers – she was working with a non-Salvationist doctor and nurse, and there is no Salvation Army presence in Gunung Sitoli. She felt isolated from much of what she held dear.
She went to Gunung Sitoli immediately after the tsunami and was there during the March 2005 earthquake. The clinic in which she was working and living collapsed during the earthquake and she admits to being very frightened.
Using her professional skills and growing experience, Marice organised community health programmes in camps and health education programmes in villages. Much of her ministry was to people in tents – sometimes living up to four hours away from Gunung Sitoli. She travelled by motorcycle (see photo, below) or sometimes on foot.
One aspect of her ministry she particularly enjoyed was being a pastor to the people, caring for them and bringing them into contact with the God she loves and serves.
The time in Gunung Sitoli taught Marice about faithfulness to God – trusting in him – especially when she was lonely. She thanks God for the many experiences she had.
In January 2007 she was transferred to Meulaboh in Aceh Province to take charge of a mother and baby clinic. She is pleased to be working alongside fellow Salvation Army officers again, even though she is now in an area where Islamic Sharia Law applies and there is no Salvation Army church presence.
She says that the response of people in Suak Ribee, the village where the clinic is located, has been wonderful. The Salvation Army clinic enables people to get attention far more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Marice also loves having friends nearby to give support.
She thanks God for every experience and testifies to the fact that the time spent in Nias and Aceh has been a life-changing experience and one which has strengthened her faith.
|Marry is from the Nicobar Islands, in the Indian Ocean. Before the tsunami struck her life was good. She was living happily at home with her parents and her sister had just had a baby. Everything was going well.|
On the morning of 26 December 2004 she recalls that she was playing with her newborn niece and that ‘everybody was happy and enjoying [life] ... Christmas had just finished and New Year was near.’
The first massive wave swept Marry and her niece into a tree but the second swell took the baby. Marry lost consciousness and only remembers coming to in the middle of some bushes. Everything she knew had been swept away. She managed to find her father but the rest of her family was lost. Marry found it hard to understand what had happened and says: ‘I cried to God.’
After a few days Marry and her father took a boat to Port Blair on the nearby Andaman Islands, where they managed to find temporary shelter in a tent camp.
She says: ‘After a few days The Salvation Army came and gave us some relief. They also gave us psychological and moral support.’ Even so, Marry still could not cope with the trauma she had been though.
After a few months a Salvation Army trauma counselling team visited the islands and helped Marry to deal with what she had been through.
The people of the shelter she lives in have made her their leader – a remarkable honour for a 20-year-old woman. She has now taken on the lessons she learned from the trauma counselling team and is working with traumatised people.
|Desi Harisandi is a Salvationist from Indonesia and a highly qualified nurse and nursing instructor. When the tsunami struck she volunteered to serve with the Compassion in Action team that was forming the main Salvation Army response in Indonesia. She was given a contract for one month and obtained leave of absence from her job as a nursing instructor at the University of Palu, Sulawesi Island.|
Desi soon felt a strong call from God that she was where he wanted her to be – Aceh Province – doing what he wanted her to do. So she volunteered to stay on, was taken on by The Salvation Army’s Indonesia Territory and resigned her university post.
Initially Desi worked out of tents. There was lots of rain – water underfoot all the time – and conditions were difficult.
She quickly identified her work with children as the most important aspect of her ministry. The children’s progamme she was part of included counselling to help children come to terms with what had happened and to help them get over their negative feelings about the ocean. She also taught community health and was responsible for a nutrition programme, forming good working relationships with the Government and other agencies.
Her ministry in Meulaboh has taught her that this is what she should be doing with her life. She experienced many difficulties – especially dealing with traumatised people – but never gave up.
She says her experiences have made her more patient and tolerant because she feels that people need her ministry.
Sadly, Desi has recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but she is still very positive and is thankful to God because he always helps her and gives her strength.
She is grateful to The Salvation Army for giving her this opportunity. More than three years after a disaster brought her to the area for ‘just one month’, Desi now looks on Meulaboh as home.
|Chandrasekaran is a member of the fishing community in Chandrapadi village, India. When he was just 14 years old, Chandrasekaran’s father ran off with another woman. As the eldest son of the family, he became the main wage-earner, working as a labourer for other boat owners. The income was meagre and the family could barely survive.|
The tsunami took a bad situation and made it worse. His only sister – divorced from her husband – died in the tsunami leaving her son, Praveen. As Praveen had no one to look after him, Chandrasekaran took his nephew in and gave him shelter.
Now, thanks to The Salvation Army, the life of this family has been transformed. Chandrasekaran was provided with an ‘FRP Fibre Boat’, an engine and fishing equipment. Today the family is able to generate an income of about 15,000 rupees (US$350) a month and the family is better off than it has ever been.
|Mr Anjappan, a mason by profession, lives in Uzhavar Nagar, India – one of the villages that was worst-hit by the tsunami. It is the community where The Salvation Army has constructed 44 permanent houses for tsunami-affected people.|
For 37-year-old Mr Anjappan, the tsunami took away more than his house – it also washed away his tools and equipment, leaving him homeless and unable to work.
When The Salvation Army started undertaking emergency relief in the area, the Anjappan family – parents and two children – was assessed to be one of the most deserving cases for assistance. The Salvation Army provided the family with household essentials and also replaced Mr Anjappan’s tools and equipment so he could carry on with his masonry work. He is able to earn up to 5,000 rupees (US$117) a month.
The Salvation Army also provided housing and now ‘House No 27’ is home to Mr Anjappan and his family. The modern, well-constructed house is very different from the small hut thatched with coconut leaves they were used to. They told Salvation Army workers they could never have imagined that they would ever live in such a house.