12-year old Marzela smiles while sitting at a desk in her elementary school Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Marzela lost her home during the deadly 2018 Indonesia earthquake and tsunami. Her family received a multi-purpose grant from Save the Children to rebuild their lives. Photo credit: Jiro Ose / Save the Children, Feb 2019

When an earthquake caused Marzela’s house to collapse completely, she and her family were left without a home. Slowly but surely, they are beginning to rebuild their lives – thanks to donor support and Save the Children.

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“I Kept Crying Because I Was So Afraid”: Marzela’s Story

When a giant 7.4-magnitude earthquake tore through the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia in late September 2018 and triggered a deadly tsunami, nearly 165,000 people were forced from their homes. Swirling water and falling rubble claimed the lives of more than 4,300 people.

For those who survived, Indonesia’s deadliest disaster in over a decade still wreaked havoc. Many people’s only source of income was swept away. Water supplies and other vital infrastructure was shattered. Families exposed to the elements were left without clean water and put at heightened risk of disease.

The earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi left children homeless and at heightened risk of exploitation, abuse or trafficking. Many were traumatized by what they’d been through. Some were alone, separated from their families amid the chaos. Through the generous support of our donors, Save the Children was able to mount a rapid, largescale response that helped save thousands of children’s lives. Children like Marzela. Here is her story.

One moment Marzela was having her hair braided as she enjoyed some quality time with her mum, the next she and the rest of her family were running from their home in terror as a massive earthquake made the walls around them shake. They only just managed to escape their house as a second tremor brought it crashing down completely.

In the chaos that followed, Marzela fled the scene on the back of her older sibling’s motorbike. “I kept crying because I was so afraid,” she remembers.

With their home in ruins, the family spent a month sleeping under tarpaulins in the jungle. But now, slowly but surely, they’re beginning to rebuild their lives – thanks to a cash grant, provided by Save the Children.

The grant has helped the family replace the household essentials they need to survive. Now life has returned to some kind of normality – Marzela is back at school and looking forward to the future, when she hopes to become a teacher.

Since September 2018, with donor support, Save the Children’s teams have provided the survivors of Indonesia’s devastating earthquake and tsunami with vital healthcare, shelter, water and hygiene supplies. We’ve set up clinics, erected temporary schools and provided shelter. We reached 144,999 people, roughly half of them children.


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