INDONESIA - Parts of Indonesia are still struggling to recover from the October tsunami that killed hundreds of people and caused massive damage to the Southeast Asian country.
Relief crews have struggled to get to remote islands that have been virtually cut off by bad weather and rough seas. However, Operation Blessing International has managed to gain access to the area.
The aid organization braved rough seas and strong rains to deliver food, clothing, medicines, and other relief goods to tsunami victims. Relief vessels at times had to stop sailing because the waves got too high.
But the bad weather turned providential for 11-year-old Reka. For five days, she was in excruciating pain after she fractured her leg when she was swept by the tsunami. The Operation Blessing team stopped at her village, and an orthopedic doctor applied first aid to Reka's fractured leg.
"We are very thankful that you came to our village," Ahmad Mayang, Reka's father, said. "Thank you for helping our daughter.
Another victim, 6-year-old Nelmi Niko, was treated for a cut thigh. Her brother Nelman said a sharp object sliced into her body when she was swept away by raging waters.
"My sister was found near the church," Nelman said. "I am happy she is alive."
Meanwhile, on the Indonesian island of Maonay, Christian relief workers joined the Operation Blessing team in comforting families of the dead.
Village chief Jonathan Samoloisa couldn't contain his grief over having lost his wife and two children. They were among 36 people in his village who died in the tsunami.
The storm also destroyed a school the Christian organization Rebana had constructed for the village. Maria Endang, a program coordinator for Rebana, said she was saddened by the loss.
"The school is gone now, but we shall build another one to teach the people here the value of education," Endang said.
The Operation Blessing team also brought spiritual help. Most of these villagers are animist.
"I believe God allowed this tragedy to happen so that the people of Mentawai will return to Him and place their faith in Jesus Christ. I am here to encourage the people that God is a God who builds and not destroys," Operation Blessing volunteer Pastor Febli said.
Despite hardships and dangers, Dr. Indiani, emergency manager for Operation Blessing, said the staff and volunteers feel they are privileged to help.
"It was very difficult but we are happy to be involved in such a ministry that helps those who are in great need.
The charity aid organization said it won't be leaving the tsunami-ravaged country anytime soon.
Meanwhile, a new team of doctors has arrived in the region, and more relief goods will be distributed to the more remote islands in the coming weeks.