Girl lost in 2004 tsunami at age 4 reunited with parents

Girl swept to another island in tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives across Indian Ocean reunites with parents and forgotten name

Girl lost in 2004 tsunami at age 4 reunited with parents

World Bulletin/News Desk

An Indonesian girl torn from her family at age of four during the 2004 tsunami has been reunited with her parents after being adopted by locals on an island she was drifted to a decade ago.

Jamaliah, the mother of Raudatul Jannah, was quoted by local media this week as saying, “I always prayed day and night, because my mind was still convinced my daughter was still alive."

Jannah and her seven-year-old brother had been placed on top of a board by their father, Septi Rangkuti, when an earthquake rocked Pangong village in West Aceh in 2004 – only to disappear after the ensuing tsunami struck.

Now 14-years-old, she was finally reunited with her father and mother – and the long-forgotten name they had given her – after her mother’s brother spotted her walking from school to the home of her guardian in a village of Southwest Aceh regency in June.

Struck by the girl’s resemblance to his sister who still grieved over her lost children, he investigated and discovered that locals believed the girl had been orphaned during the 2004 natural disaster that claimed over 230,000 lives in 14 countries across the Indian Ocean. Most of the victims were in Indonesia’s Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.

Despite the devastation caused by the tsunami ripping through the region, four-year-old Jannah had been found on a nearby island by a fisherman, whose elderly mother adopted the mystery child and raised her under a new name - Wenniati (Wenni). 

Jamaliah, who moved to North Sumatra with her husband a month after the tsunami, told media that her daughter’s face has remained unchanged. "As a kid she was pale, now she is dark, but her face did not change,” she said, rejoicing that Jannah would be returning home.

Jannah’s parents say they have been haunted by feelings that their daughter was still alive, with Jamaliah praying relentlessly for her child’s return to her lap.

A month before she was found, her father had begun to regularly have spontaneous memories of her, distracting him from work.

"Her father often came home during the day and remembered his daughter restlessly,” Jamaliah said.

She added that although she finds no need for a DNA test, she would be willing to have one to alleviate others’ doubts.

Maryam, Jannah’s guardian for the last decade, also told local media of her elation that the girl had reunited with her parents. 

"I'm sad because I've considered Wenni as my own grandchild," the fisherman’s mother said, adding that she had raised the girl as best as she could given her age and income.

After being reintroduced to her mother, Jannah began to remember her lost brother, Arif. 

Jamaliah said that Jannah had shared what remained of her decade-old memories of being atop a board with her brother before they were swept to Aceh Singkil island. 

“However about a week after they had lived together with the fisherman, they were split up and she does not know who has cared for her brother until now," their mother added, admitting that she had begun to believe Arif was also alive and being cared for by others.

Referring to stories she had heard of different places where her son may be, she said, “So now there is no certainty where my son is."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Ağustos 2014, 13:05

Muhammed Öylek