When the Boxing Day tsunami swept away her family’s house on the island of Pulo Breuh, Mulinda was seven months pregnant. Her daughter was born on 1 March 2005 while they were living in a camp for the displaced called Mata’ie, which means tears.
Now three years old, Saidatul Rahmi deftly cuts and pops slices of apple into her mouth on the doorstep of their new two-bedroom house, built by the British Red Cross.
Unlike many other families in Ulee Paya village, which has 300 inhabitants, Mulinda’s relatives all survived the disaster. But there was nothing left of the home she had lived in with her parents. It was five months before they were able to return to the island, just off the northern tip of Indonesia’s Aceh province.
Mulinda moved into her yellow Red Cross house with her husband and daughter in 2007, and her parents live close by. Trees and pots of pink flowers grow in the front garden and on one side is a wood-frame carpentry workshop, where Saidatul’s dad makes furniture.
“This house is much better,” says Mulinda, sitting on her pink three-piece-suite in her living room. “It’s quieter, and even though it’s smaller than our old house, it is higher quality.”
The concrete-block house has a red tin roof shaped like tiles, a living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. The family sleep together in one room, leaving a spare room for guests, a fridge-freezer and Saidatul’s bike!
In the living room, a TV and a photograph of Saidatul sit atop an ornate red cabinet made by Mulinda’s husband. He also crafted the handsome, carved bed and wardrobe in their bedroom. After the tsunami, most people needed new furniture, so orders have been coming in from neighbouring villages too. The business has taken on another employee.
Mulinda’s family seem happy in their new home, which is one of 47 the Red Cross constructed in Ulee Paya. Hopefully they are also better protected against damage from future disasters.
All Red Cross houses in the tsunami-affected area of Indonesia are built to withstand earthquakes up to magnitude 6, and should protect people inside up to magnitude 7.
Mulinda said: “We sometimes have earthquakes, but when they happen, the house just shakes. There aren’t any cracks.”
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