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Orphaned by the Tsunami
(13 February 2005)
Nola
Seven-year-old Nola used to live with her mother, father and two younger sisters in Banda Aceh before the tsunami struck.

Seven-year-old Nola used to live with her mother, father and two younger sisters in Banda Aceh before the tsunami struck.

On the 26th of December 2004, Nola was watching television with her family when a great earthquake shook their home, its epicenter only 255 km to the south.

In panic they ran out of the house, but the earthquake passed without damage and the family returned inside.

Ten minutes later, cries of "water, water is coming" filled the streets as a vast wall of water surged through their home. Nola's mother held her in her arms and struggled to hold on against the waves until she couldn't anymore. Taken from her mother's arms by the sea, Nola clung on to whatever she could find.

Nola's mother held her in her arms and struggled to hold on against the waves. "I found myself holding on to a piece of wood", says Nola. She doesn't know how long she clung to the driftwood, but it was a long time before a stranger rescued her.

Sadly, the rest of Nola's family died in the disaster, and she now lives with her grandmother in one of the several camps in Banda Aceh for people who lost their homes.

"She is very old, but I help her with the cleaning and I fetch water from the Islamic Relief tanks" says Nola.


Nola and her friend

She attends school in the mornings and then visits the graveyard with her grandmother to pray for her family. In the afternoon she goes to the mosque to learn the Qur'an.

When asked about her life in the camp Nola answers bravely, "I like it here; I have lots of new friends and a good teacher too.

"I want to be a doctor, and my teacher says I am very clever."

There are an estimated 400,000 people living in camps who, like Nola, lost everything in the disaster. Islamic Relief is helping them with food, water and sanitation, and is planning to rehabilitate schools in Aceh.

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