A lone mosque remains after the 2004 tsunami. Picture: AP

For most of us, the terrible 2004 Boxing Day tsunami was a disaster that we reflect on as the years drift by – but for a number of mothers in Indonesia every day is a day to remember.

Six years after the tidal wave claimed 230,000 lives in 12 countries, those mothers cling to hope that their lost children are still alive.
They believe that the youngsters were swept ashore many miles from their homes and were then adopted by families who had lost their own children.
Among the hopefuls is a 43-year-old mother who today lies in a hospital with severe injuries, suffered when a mob of villagers attacked her as she tried to interview a girl she believed was her missing daughter.
The sad story of Titik Yuniarti’s search for her daughter Salwa, who was aged six when she was swept from her arms when an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered the tsunami, typifies the search that scores of other mothers have embarked on in the hope of finding their lost loved ones.
Titik said from her hospital bed in the Indonesian region of Aceh, which was the most badly hit area among all the countries from Sri Lanka to Indonesia and Thailand, that she had a dream telling her that her daughter had been found alive and was with a family in the town of Langsa.
With a friend, she travelled for six hours along a bumpy coastal road before going from school to school showing teachers and students photos of her daughter.
‘After three days, we finally met a girl named Febby,’ Titik said, her face covered in bruises, an intravenous drip in her arm.
‘She had the same tumble of black hair, a freckle over her lip. Some people even told me she’d lost her parents in the tsunami and had been adopted.
‘I was still afraid to believe it, but in my heart I thought “it’s her – it’s really her.”‘
But when she and her friend returned to a village where they had met the girl, a mob was waiting for her and accused her of wanting to abduct the 12-year-old to sell her organs.
‘Some people shouted “Hang her! Hang her!’ and others set alight the building where we had been staying,’ said Titik.
Then the mob beat them with sticks and rocks before police arrived and arranged for them to be taken to hospital.
The girl’s mother, Ainun Mardiah, said she would be happy to take a DNA test to prove that the child is her’s, not Titik’s.
Titik’s desperate hunt for a daughter who was lost in the tsunami is just one sad case among many, say officials of Indonesia’s Social Ministry office.
‘A government programme that reunited nearly 1,600 children with their parents closed in 2006,’ said Farida Zuraini, a ministry spokeswoman. ‘We offer assistance as needed but the number of requests has dwindled.’
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