“I can’t move half of my body, but I survived.”
Written by Victor Dimas B. Putra, Yohanes Baskoro, and Albert Deby S. (Karina-KAS’ volunteers for the Caritas Joint Response).
Suwardi's house was flattened to the earth during the earthquake in Padang,
“We have nothing left. Just after the quake, we spent the night under the umbrella. It’s cold and dark outside. I could feel the rain and aftershocks on my bare feet. I wouldn’t go inside (our house),” said Suwardi, a 55 year old man.
He is one of the quake survivors who live at Tuanku Nan Renceh Street, Simpang, Punggung Lading, South Pariaman. As a family man, he is very tough and hearty. Now half of his body cannot move normally after a stroke, so he has started to make some changes.
“It’s been a month after the quake and no one has come. My house was flattened to the earth. It was very sad seeing my wife and my two children living in an open place. I couldn’t wait any longer,” he explained to us.
He went through many difficult times, before he could realize his dreams. Seeing his family in a safer place is the only dream he wants to achieve. But the immobile half of his body was slowing down the spirit of his hope.
“I can’t work too much now. Every day, I take my wife to the market and the paddy field. Then, I feed my brother in law’s ducks. I spend the rest of the day talking with my neighbours,” he said.
The stroke changed his life. Once, he was a driver in Jakarta. He had to go back earlier to Padang after the doctor diagnosed him with this serious illness. “I can move my left body, it feels nothing. It’s always in my head the day when I got this illness. It was May 1st, 1998. It was Friday, 17.07 in the evening.” Said Suwardi, “Since that day, my lovely wife, Nurbaiti, takes my place as the breadwinner. She is paid daily to work at other people’s paddy field.
Suwardi had no doubt in his eyes. The love from his wife and his children brought him strength to recover. He collected the debris of his house bit by bit. Together with his family and his neighbors, he started to rebuild his temporary house. The spirit of “gotong royong” (working together) in his village took shape in a small temporary house (2 x 3 meters) for all of his family members.
“There are 13 households in Simpang village. All the houses are severely damaged. Alhamdulillah, all men and women are working together to build temporary houses. For two full days, we collected all the usable debris and patched our houses,” he said.
Suwardi’s firm intention had inspired and moved 13 families to do the same thing. Now, all of them have small temporary houses. Despite all sad things they faced after the 30 September earthquake, they are ready to face the rainy season in safety.
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