Tsunami survivor Marzuki Arsyad, 34, was luckier than some in Banda Aceh—his wife was unharmed because she was working outside the city. Even so, on December 26, 2004, this pedicab driver and fisherman lost 13 relatives as well as his home. The death toll in Indonesia’s Aceh province was 170,000; 500,000 became homeless.
A year later, Arsyad is about to move into a new home not far from where his fishing vessel is docked. He reflects on the year since the disaster with some confusion: like many survivors he feels relief and gratitude but also the continuing stress of bitter memories and of worry and uncertainty, particularly about his livelihood. “We lost everything,” he says.
Chris Herlinger, former senior writer for Church World Service, is a contributing writer for National Catholic Reporter’s Global Sisters Report. He is the coauthor, with Paul Jeffrey, of books on Haiti and Darfur, published by Seabury. A third book, Food Fight: Struggling for Justice in a Hungry World, has just been released.