Earthquakes leave Nias children traumatized

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
By nias

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

After his hometown on Nias island was shattered by an earthquake, life is no longer the same for seven-year-old Alui Zalukhu.

He has been at the Pirngadi hospital in Medan for over a week, all alone. He was separated from his family when the 8.7-magnitude quake destroyed his house in Hombolate village in Afulu district. Three days after the quake, he had to be taken to Medan because of his broken legs.

But the quake left a scar on the boy's soul, giving him nightmares, and causing him to wake up screaming almost every night.

Amagamawa Gea, a 65-year-old Nias resident whose son is being treated next to Alui at the hospital, said the boy rarely talks, usually not even responding to those wanting to talk to him. But the boy talked once about his parents.

"He's certain that his parents are still alive. He said his father's name is Obedi Zalukhu, but he couldn't remember the name of his mother or sisters," said the resident of Tuhembeua, Nias.

It was when the old man mentioned Alui's family that the boy suddenl spoke in Nias language. "For sure, my parents are still alive", the boy said.

Amagamawa said Alui was going through a very difficult time due to his injuries, his nightmares and loneliness.

"Poor kid. He must miss his parents so much. They still haven't come for him. As a fellow resident of Nias, I feel obligated to look after him," Amagamawa said.

The quake left many other children, like Alui, traumatized.

Blessing Gulo, 6, and his sister Milka Gulo, 7, have been at Medan hospitals for a week too. Blessing is being treated at Pirngadi hospital, while Milka is at Elisabeth hospital with their mother, Lisma Jacobis.

Their father, Yulianus Gulo, said the children were now sleeping very restlessly. Every night after the quake, Blessing has had nightmares, he said.

"When he wakes up, he looks shocked. His temperature also rises and then he cries for more than an hour," said Yulianus, who is staying with Blessing.

The 35-year-old church pastor from Gunung Sitoli said his daughter, Milka, was previously in a critical state, and could not even open her eyes for the first four days in the hospital. On her fifth day, she finally opened her eyes, but she rarely has spoken.

Yulianus said that at the time of the disaster, his house in Jl. Diponegoro in Gunung Sitoli collapsed onto his wife and two children, while he was outside the house. Yulianus said that Milka suffered more compared to her mother and brother.

"Milka was bleeding from the mouth, nose and ears. At the time, I was pessimistic that she would survive because of the injuries," he said.

She was taken to a hospital in the North Sumatra town of Sibolga. "But because the equipment at the hospital was inadequate, she was sent here, to Medan," Yulianus said.

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Kalender Berita

April 2005