Aceh Province, Sumatra...
Girl Swept Away in 2004 Tsunami Finds Family
15-year-old Wati, second right, poses for a photograph with her father Yusuf at their home in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday. (Source: Associated Press)
Updated: Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:30 a.m. E/TA girl who was swept away in the Indian Ocean tsunami seven years ago said Friday she broke down in tears this week after tracking down her parents, who had long lost hope of finding her alive.
The 15-year-old showed up in Aceh province's hard-hit town of Meulaboh earlier this week, saying that not long after the wave hit she was "adopted" by a woman who called her Wati and forced her to beg, sometimes beating her and keeping her in the streets until 1 a.m.When the teen stopped bringing in money, she was told, "Go ahead, leave ... go find your parents then, they're in Meulaboh."
With only patchy memories about her past -- she was only 8 when the tsunami hit, an age where most children don't know their relatives' full names -- Wati began her search, telling people she thought her grandfather was "Ibrahim."She met a pedicab driver in Meulaboh, who brought her to a man by that name. Though she didn't look familiar, he, in turn, quickly summoned her parents.
"When I saw my mother, I knew it was her," said the wide-eyed girl, her hair cropped close to her head. "I just knew."The family, who say the girl's original name is Meri Yuranda, is also now convinced.
The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen nations hit Aceh -- closest to the epicenter of the magnitude-9.1 quake that spawned the towering waves -- the hardest.Video: Raw Video of the Tsunami Devastation
With tens of thousands of bodies washed to sea in that province alone, many families continue to cling to hope of finding lost loved ones. Reunions, however, are rare. And all announced in the last five years have turned out to be untrue. Even so, some mothers continue to believe a child is theirs even after DNA tests prove otherwise.Either way, without any challenges to the claims, Wati now has a family.
Yusniar binti Ibrahim Nur, the mother, told The Associated Press she had all the evidence she needed."She has her father's face," the 35-year-old woman said by telephone. "And when I saw the scar over her eye and mole on her hip, I was even more sure."
It doesn't worry her, she said, that the girl and her husband have different accounts of what happened on the day the tsunami hit their tiny village of Ujong Baroh just outside of Meulaboh.Wati remembers her father putting her into a boat with her younger sister, long presumed dead as well, and then getting separated. She says she remembers being surrounded by water and crying.
Her father says he put both of his daughters on the roof of their house hoping they'd be safe."Maybe she fell into the boat, maybe someone helped her. I just don't know," said Yusniar.
"I just thank God my prayers have been answered," she said. "For years, I searched everywhere. I'd really given up."
Making friends with the French
Connexion edition: March 2011
SIMON JENKINS took a step back in time, along with a few more around the dance floor, as a way of making French friends and learning the language when he moved to a farming community in 2008.
By OBSERVER News - Friday, December 23rd, 2011.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – For two days this week, dozens of commuters at the West Bus Station were treated to free bus rides, courtesy of LIME.
LIME staff showed up at the bus depot and brought cheer to dozens of commuters who were returning home after a full day’s work.
Keithroy Black, driver of C 366 on the Bendals Route, said, “I have been a customer of LIME for many years. LIME is a great company. It was very strange to see employees of an organisation simply show up and kindly request to pay the bus fare for commuters. I wondered if they were serious. They reassured us that it was for real and paid for everyone in cash. My passengers were so relieved. They gushed, clapped and replaced their money because LIME was paying for them. It was a nice gesture.”
Similar to its kindness to the commuters at West Bus Station, LIME paid the cost so that the residents of the Boys Training School could visit the Rainforest Canopy Tours ziplines.
Paula Lee, corporate communications manager said, “LIME has been associated with the Boys Training School for the past two years and we have completed several projects at the institution. Christmas is a special time of year and we wanted to create a lifetime experience for the young men. LIME has planned a number of activities whereby we will randomly surprise individuals with special gifts.”
Deborah hits the heights for charity
Sarah Reid, a physiotherapist at Perth Royal Infirmary, and Deborah Hair from near Brechin, who is currently doing a Masters at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, successfully completed their ascent of Kilimanjaro, raising £8,710 for Brain Tumour Research.
This is a fitting tribute to Sarah’s mother who lost her battle with a brain tumour earlier this year.
On reaching the top of the highest mountain in Africa, Deborah commented: “The summit day was really tough – we started the final ascent at midnight during a thunder, lightning and snow storm with just our head torches to light the way, in between bolts of lightning. As you can imagine, it was all very dramatic and exciting!
“At that altitude the lack of oxygen meant we had less sleep and had lost our appetites, so we were really running on empty.
“We were lucky, however, not to have suffered any serious altitude sickness, which is all too common.”
Sarah continued the story: “The storm finally abated and we were above cloud level to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Reaching the summit was an amazing experience, albeit an exhausting one.
“It was a fantastic moment that we will never forget and it was really down to all the support and generous sponsorship we have received that helped us to keep going.
“To date our sponsorship total has topped £8,700, an overwhelming total and we cannot express how grateful we are to everyone who has sponsored us”.
Brain tumours kill more children and people under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 70p in every £100 of national cancer spending goes on brain tumour research.
It costs £2,740 to fund one day of research at a dedicated brain tumour centre of research, so Sarah and Deborah’s ascent of Kilimanjaro has already raised enough to fund three full days of research.
If you would like to help make the total four days of research, please go to www.justgiving.com/SarahDeborahKilimanjaroClimb
For more information on the work of Brain Tumour Research please go to www.braintumourresearch.org
Raising funds ahead of dream trip to USA
Brechin teenager Imogen Sherrit is in the middle of a fund-raising drive, in the hope of achieving her dream to go to the USA for a gap year next August.
The gap year programme she has applied for is run by an organisation called Foreign Links Around the Globe, a Michigan based non-profit organisation, authorised to place international high school students with American volunteer host families and schools for an academic year and/or semester programmes.
Before she can take part in this she needs approximately £5700, which she has acknowledged is going to be difficult to raise.
Imogen intends to organise several fund-raising events after the new year, such as a ceilidh, prize bingo night and also a whisky tasting night.
The Brechin High School pupil is currently doing all she can to raise money, most recently organising a raffle at the Brechin pantomime.
Over the course of the five shows she raised £253, a great start to her fund.
The prize for the raffle was a Christmas hamper, which went to Mrs Haggart of Park Road, Brechin. Imogen would like to thank everyone for her support.
The seventeen-year-old also has a Christmas quiz on sale for 50p, with a closing date of December 19.
These can be found in Brymer’s, Hendry’s newsagents, Sweets and Treats, Turriffs, Gardiners, Sydney David, Dennis’, Robson’s Opticians, Gourmet Grocery, Whittaker’s Opticians and Rosie’s Bakehouse.
The quizzes can also be found in the Tweed Warehouse and the Spar in Edzell.
The prize has been kindly donated by Gavin Brymer, which is a £20 voucher to be spent in Bruce Brymer Butchers.
Imogen would like to give a big thanks for all the support she has received so far.
PICTURED: Brechin girl Imogen Sherrit, - currently in the middle of a fund-raising drive to realise her dream of a gap year in Michigan, USA