A Visit to Banda Aceh: A Decade After Tsunami

BANDA ACEH - Tsunami, a Decade After: A Reflection during FPQS’s Students’ Visit 13-16 January 2015

by Nadrah Haron, Syed Najihuddin Syed Hassan

This academic visit was planned specially for 4th year student, 34 of us from the faculty of Quranic and Sunnah studies, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia. We chose Aceh as our destination. We discovered a city that possessed its own beauty and jewels to learn from.

Aceh is located at Sumatra, Indonesia, formerly known as Atjeh. It is surrounded by water on three sides, the Indian Ocean to the west and north, the Strait of Malacca to the east. The capital and largest city is Banda Aceh. The northernmost province of Sumatra Aceh has rich petroleum and natural gas deposits as well as valuable rubber, oil palm, timber recourses, also other most important agricultural products such as rice, coconuts, tea and coffee.

Aceh has a population of about 1.5 million, consisting of native Acehnese, Indonesians, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Gayo and several groups of indigenous people, 98% of them are Muslims. Since the year 2000, the implementation of Syariah was introduced and recognized as the formal law in Aceh province.

Our short journey for 4 days gave us a meaningful experience and bountiful knowledge. We visited several places that brought back the memory of tsunami natural disaster a decade ago. These places became tourist attraction where the government preserves the places to show people and educate them about how tsunami happened.

One of the places we visited is called “Fisherman boat on an inhabitant house (Lampulo)”, there was an old man, he was one of the survivor told us his experience facing that incident. According to him, the earthquake and tsunami disaster on 26th December 2004 has devastated the whole infrastructures in Banda Aceh. One of the incidences was a story of a wooden boat that was stranded in Gampong Lampulo, on top of Misbah family’s house. Before the disaster, the boat was in the dock area in krueng Aceh River in Lampulo, the wooden boat which was 25m of length, 5.5m of width and 20 tons of weight would be put to sea after the reparation of the boat, the boat was supposed to be sent to Lhaknga. Unfortunately, God has decided on something else; the earthquake and tsunami disaster has stranded the boat to the housing in Lampulo, which was approximately located 1km from the dock area. Praise to Allah, 56 people survived in the boat.

The old man continued his story about himself. When the tsunami occurred, he thought that it was the end of his life and it is time for the hereafter. Everyone were too busy saving themselves and he too did the same. He left his wife and children behind, a few hours later while he was on his own trying to save himself, he saw a small kid near him. He then realized about the state of his wife and children, out of sympathy, he helped the kid and they survived together. Along the streets, the kid’s auntie saw them and said to the old man that she is going to take the kid under her care. With the state of the old man, homeless and nowhere to go, he agreed. He continued his journey along the street and to his surprise, he saw his wife and two children on top of a tree, Praise be to Allah, he remembered the Quranic Verse, “So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it”. (7-8: Az-Zalzala). The old man told us that one of his children had gone missing until now, his age should be 24 years old, they do not know about their son’s whereabouts.

The inhabitant house was preserved as it is, the government made the house as a tsunami gallery, we can see around the pictures before and after the disaster. While waiting for the others to look around the place, I had the chance to ask the old man about how he feels about his son that is missing until now, his reply was: “ We Muslims are the people who have faith, we believe in the Almighty, last time we are too busy and attached with the worldly things, if we are close to the hereafter we will get both the world and hereafter, but if we care only for the world, the hereafter will be left behind”. That was a deep reminder for me and for my friends who were together with me at that time.

The next destination that we went was the Aceh Tsunami Museum, there was a tour around the museum by a sister who was one of the survivors and worked part-time there. She is currently taking her masters in natural disaster in UNI Ar-Raniry. The sister gave advice to us to seize the opportunity given for us to study hard and be successful as knowledge is very important. During the disaster, there was a lack of awareness amongst the villagers while community of Aceh about how to face the disaster, only few of them managed to survive and many were panicked and died. The museum itself was designed as an evacuation building and there are few other building serving the same purpose.

Today, with the help of 53 countries worldwide, Aceh has its own spirit, strong willed, where people rebuilt their lives, family and education. “No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah - He will guide his heart. And Allah is all knowing of all things” (At-Taghabun, verse 11). The community and residents of Banda Aceh now have much more awareness about the earthquake and disaster, from pamphlets, booklets, education related to disaster.

According to Mr. Mahlizar, our supportive and informative tour guide, there are few other evacuation buildings and signals to alert the residents if there is a tsunami coming. Besides that, Mr. Mahlizar told us that the mosques around Banda Aceh was rebuild and designed by the government of Holland, Oman, Turkey and other countries.

The last destination that impacted me the most is the orphanage home Dayah Nurul Huda, a private organization which housed a total of 250 children aged 7 to 20 years old. Some of them lost their parents during the disaster while some stayed together with their siblings, we visited the orphanage to hand over some donations. They received their education and continue their lives at the orphanage. I knew the feeling of lost, losing the one you love most, but Allah knows what is best for us, for the children and for this world is just temporary.

There must be wisdoms and blessings in disguise for what had happened in Aceh. We am grateful to be given the chance to travel and see around Banda Aceh and god willing we would love to go again and explore more in future. A special thanks to our respected lecturer, our Dean Assoc. Prof. Dr. Adnan Mohamed Yusoff for this opportunity and guidance, Syifa Linnas Travel and tours for giving us an awesome package and to our beloved university, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia for this fruitful experience. 


Masjid Baitulrahman’s Visit


Aceh, a place that revived us with a new spirit, a place that must be remembered. Acheh indeed is must visit place for us all.