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A mother remembers the quake - one year on

© UNICEF/2010/Estey
Resmanita consults with an immunization officer at a UNICEF supported health clinic built after the 2009 quake in West Sumatra.

PADANG, 30 September 2010 - For Resmanita, the terror enveloping her when the powerful earthquake rocked her house and almost took the life of her baby is still as real today as it was a year ago.

When the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the western coast of Sumatra island on September 30, 2009, she was in the shower and her month old baby sleeping soundly in his cot.

With only wearing a towel she ran out to retrieve her son. Bu the aftershocks were too strong and caused her to fall. Rusty nails from the broken bathroom door pierced her leg and thigh.

She froze as at the floor near her baby cot split and the walls began to crack. But she managed to grab her baby before everything fell upon them.

"Thank God we survived," said Resmanita, 27, and mother of 13-month-old Lutfi Ramadhan. She retells her story as she waits for a nurse to weigh Lufti at the temporary community health centre, in Padang city.

"What happened a year ago still haunts me to today; it feels like it happened just yesterday," she says, dabbing the sweat off her son’s face.

Every Thursday, about 20 mothers bring their infants and toddlers here to receive immunizations, vitamins or to check their children's health. This health centre is one four in the district to receive UNICEF’s blue cold chain vaccine storage equipment.

Once a month, 50 mothers take their babies to a nearby integrated health service to get these health services, explains Prima Tireni, who runs the clinic.

The facility is one of the 50 community health centres devastated by the quake that left 1,117 people dead, of which one-third were children.


© UNICEF/2010/Estey
A UNICEF trained immunization officer checks the vaccine from the cold chain storange unit donated by UNICEF after the 2009 quake.

Resmanita remembered how shocked she was when her husband took her to this clinic to treat her wounds.

"The clinic was flattened and surrounded by people with open wounds and broken bones," she says, adding that health workers at that time asked relatives to buy medicine from pharmacies for the victims as there was nothing left in the devastated clinic, including anti-tetanus serum.

The disaster prevented her from ensuring routine immunization for her baby. But she was glad when health workers visited her home to vaccinate her son weeks after the quake.

The Indonesian government has strengthened routine immunization activities, providing additional immunization and the mobilization of entire communities to vaccinate their children, including administering polio vaccinations for children under the age of five.

Surveillance of communicable diseases is also continuously carried out in the province, said Efrida Aziz, the Head of the West Sumatra Provincial Health Department. It’s an activity that many hope will live on long after the terrifying memories of last year’s quake have faded.

"We would like to have this programme continue, not just [something that happens] during the times of disaster," says Mrs. Aziz.







West Sumatra quake - one year on

Click here to read more and see a video about UNICEF support to the Indonesian government one year after a major earthquake in West Sumatra.

Related links

Read more in the West Sumatra quake fact sheet. Download here.  


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