Father, daughter reunite after tsunami
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 24, 2005 at 10:40 p.m.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Mustafa Kamal searched for his 5-year-old daughter by day and had visions of her at night, certain that somehow she escaped the tsunami that slammed into Sumatra island.
His dream became reality Monday, when Rina Augustina squealed and raced into his arms.
"By the grace of God! I knew you were alive! I knew it!" Kamal screamed at a reunion organized by the aid group Save the Children. "My precious little one. I did not give up. I kept looking."
"Where were you?" she sobbed, throwing her arms around her father's neck.
Kamal, a truck driver, was on his way to the city of Medan - a 12-hour drive from this provincial capital - when the tsunami hit Dec. 26. Rina Augustina was home with her mother, her two sisters, and her uncle.
Her uncle held her and her 12-year-old sister as they tried to outrun the wall of water. It caught them, and her uncle, Hamdani, lost his grip. Both girls were swept away. Her mother and 8-year-old sister also vanished.
Somehow, Rina Augustina survived and made it to a government building where displaced people were gathering. A teenage boy took her to Halimah Junid's family because they had young daughters, and the family took her in.
Kamal returned home to find nothing left. Undaunted, he searched camps, government offices - anywhere he might find his wife, three daughters and brother. Eventually, he found his brother and the bodies of his two older daughters. But he kept looking for his wife and Rina Augustina.
"Another family looking for their son told me they saw her name on the board," Kamal said of his daughter. "It came to me in a dream that she stayed alive."
Kamal went to Junid's home and dropped to his knees at the sight of his little girl. "Where's mama?" the girl asked. Kamal tried to reassure her, and did not tell her about her sisters.
Kamal cradled Rina Augustina and kissed her cheek. "Let's go look for Mama," he said.
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