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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Thailand: Young girl finds meaning amid devastation caused by the tsunami

© UNICEF Thailand/2005/Nettleton
Atitaya Jongkrailak, 11, and her family lived in a temporary camp for two months after the tsunami. They now live in a permanent home built by her father.

By Atitaya Jongkrailak

Atitaya Jongkrailak is far too young to have witnessed the physical destruction and emotional pain caused by the tsunami. Below she speaks about that terrible day and how her family is coping one year on.

PHANG-NGA, Thailand, December 2005 - “My name is Atitaya Jongkrailak. I am 11 years old and I study at Ban Bang Muang school. The day of the tsunami I went early with my father to the market. When we were coming home he got a call saying don’t come back because a giant wave has destroyed everything. Later he went back to our house. He found my grandfather’s body on the first floor and my grandmother’s body upstairs. Three days later we learned my other grandmother died. I was very sad.

© UNICEF Thailand/2005/Nettleton
Atitaya stands at the site where her family lived in a displacement camp after the tsunami.

“We lived in a camp for two months before moving to a temporary shelter near school. In August we moved to a permanent new house my father built. I was happy to go back to school. We had lots of visitors and support. People donated lots of clothes and food. Having people come and organize activities was good. It takes our minds off the tragedy.

“This past year brought a lot of changes, especially my family’s structure because of the loss of my grandparents. Something always feels missing. I got interested in Buddhist meditation. I wanted to do this for my grandmother and others who died to give them merit for their life after death.

“I want to be a teacher so that I can pass on knowledge to the next generation. I want to help other parents to raise their children to be good people in the future.”













Atitaya Jongkrailak, 11, talks about what she went through on the day of the tsunami, and how she and her family have been coping since the disaster.

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An 11 year-old's story of loss and spiritual renewal after the tsunami in Thailand.  Hear her story:

Official updates

Children and the Tsunami, A Year On:
A Draft UNICEF Summary of What Worked [PDF]

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