Mulinda’s story: “A new life in a new home”

Published: 16 February 2009 0:00 CET

Megan Rowling, British Red Cross in Indonesia This is the eighth in a series of nine profiles/case studies, looking at how Red Cross Red Crescent has helped people to rebuild their own lives after the tsunami in Indonesia.

When the 2004 tsunami swept away her family home on the island of Pulo Breuh, Mulinda was seven months pregnant. Her daughter was born on March 1, 2005, while they were living in a camp for the displaced called Mata’ie (“tears”) near Banda Aceh.

Now three years old, little Saidatul Rahmi deftly cuts and pops slices of apple into her mouth on the doorstep of their new two-bedroom house, built by the British Red Cross.

Unlike many other families in Ulee Paya village, which has 300 inhabitants, Mulinda’s relatives all survived the disaster. But there was nothing left of the home she had lived in with her parents. It was five months before they were able to return to the island, just off the northern tip of Indonesia’s Aceh province.


Mulinda, 30, moved into the yellow Red Cross house with her husband and daughter in 2007, and her parents live close by. Trees and pots of pink flowers grow in the front garden and there is a wood-frame carpentry workshop at one side, where Saidatul’s father makes furniture.

“This house is much better,” says Mulinda, sitting on the pink three-piece suite in her living room. “It’s quieter, and even though it’s smaller than our old house, it is of higher quality.”

After the tsunami, most people needed new furniture, so orders have been coming in from neighbouring villages too. The business has taken on another employee.


Mulinda’s family seem happy in their new concrete-brick home, which is one of 47 the Red Cross constructed in Ulee Paya. Hopefully they are also better protected against damage from future disasters.

All Red Cross houses in the tsunami-affected area of Indonesia are built to withstand earthquakes up to magnitude 6, and should protect people inside up to magnitude 7.

“We sometimes have earthquakes, but when they happen, the house just shakes. There aren’t any cracks,” says Mulinda.