The Meri Yulanda story: is the Indonesian tsunami girl for real?
MERI Yulanda is your feel good Christmas story for 2011. Meri, also known as Wati, was swept away from her village of Ujong Baroh on the Aceh coast, Indonesia, by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
The tsunami killed 170,000 people in Aceh alone and over 230,000 people in all.
This week, Meri Yuland turned up in Meulaboh, Aceh. She was looking for her mum and dad.
Yulanda says that in the intervening years she was forced to work as a beggar for a widow. And now, just before Boxing Day, she tues up safe and well.
Can she be believed? Is it too incredible to be true?
When Meri arrived in Meulabnoh, the story goes that the only name she knew was that of her grandfather, Ibrahim. The BBC says “someone knew the name” and got in touch. Someone knew the name Ibeahim in an Indonesian country?
Says Yulands, now reunited with her mother Yusnidar and father Tarmius:
“When I saw my mother, I knew it was her. I just knew it. When she saw her mother she yelled ‘mama’ and ran toward her.”
“Both of them hugged each other and cried.”
“The birthmarks on her belly, and a mole and scar on her face proved that the little girl was mine.”
Meri Yulanda – even he name sounds like a Christmas hit (Merry Yule-Anda) was either 7 or 8 when she was swept away. Can it be that she found her way home alone?
Fifteen-year-old Wati, second right, poses for a photograph with her father Yusuf, right, mother Yusniar, left, and younger brother Aris at their home in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. The girl who was swept away in the Indian Ocean tsunami seven years ago has been reunited with her parents. (AP Photo)