The World Helped Us, So I Am Ready to Help Others


In the haunted days after the tsunami, midwife Ibu Sinarti was given the chance to flee the devastation, and return to the safety of Jakarta, the capital. She had been severely injured the day the tsunami hit, and doctors thought they might have to amputate her leg.

She said no: to moving to Jakarta, and to the amputation.


“Because of my condition, I got a letter from the Ministry of Health telling me I could move to Jakarta.  But the local people begged me to stay, so I said no. I didn’t have the heart to leave after 10 years here. This is my community, my home. And we had to rebuild,” she said.


With her fellow survivors, she surveyed the damage of their ruined city: houses were destroyed. Her health clinic, where she had worked as a midwife for 10 years, was gone. The baby she had delivered just before the tsunami hit. Gone.


But 10 years later, Aceh is a different place. Sinarti stands – on two strong, healed legs – in the health clinic CARE rebuilt eight years ago. New mothers and pregnant filter in, smiling in surprise at the foreign visitors before taking a seat in the sun-filled waiting room.


Ibu Sinarti has dedicated her life to helping new mothers and ensuring quality maternal health care for her community; she has an ever-changing roster of young medical interns, eager to learn from her. She even sleeps in the health clinic, so she is available 24 hours a day in case there is an emergency. She delivers nearly 20 new babies each month, and provides health care to pregnant women, mothers and children across Lambaro Skep.


“The day the tsunami hit, the baby I had just delivered, and her mother, didn’t survive. But since then I have delivered hundreds of healthy babies. I see them in the community. Their mothers come back for their next delivery, and I see the babies grow.


“It has been extraordinary to see the change in Aceh since the tsunami. Things look normal now, and in some places, like this health clinic, they are better. Everyone here was helped, somehow. The world came to help, and we helped each other.


“God willing, I am ready to help others if I can. I myself have been helped so much. And now my children will become doctors, so they can also help others. So we will share our good fortune with others, whenever we can.”

Written by Melanie Brooks