Indonesia – October 29 2019

Overcoming challenges: A boy's wish to walk again

Ari is one of thousands of children whose lives were devastated by the tsunami and earthquake that destroyed parts of the island of Sulawesi in 2018.

Ari*, 11, is not as full of excitement when he arrives at school anymore. Pushed in a wheelchair by his aunt, Ari can only sit and watch his friends run around as he waits for the bell to ring.

Ari lost a leg when his family’s home collapsed during last September’s earthquake disaster in Indonesia. Tragically, both of his parents died.

The boy is one of thousands of children whose lives were devastated by the tsunami and earthquake that destroyed much of the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi in 2018.

But Ari is a fighter.

He spent more than a day buried alive in 23 feet of rubble before his aunt heard his cries. With limited tools, neighbors freed Ari from the ruins of his home.

Sharp debris severely injured his leg. His aunt could not hold back her tears when she heard doctors had to amputate his leg – and it brought even more tears when she heard Ari’s innocent response: “That’s alright, it will grow, right?”

The surgery saved the boy’s life.

Since the disaster, Ari lives with his aunt, Ms. Indah, at the house of a relative. She became his legal guardian, but after losing her job following the earthquake, she struggled to cover his everyday needs.

“I had to rely on the help of others to buy Ari’s medicines and take him to the doctor for check-ups,” Ms. Indah says. “He should have visited the doctor several times, but I couldn’t take him there, because I had no money.”

Ms. Indah and Ari were one of 700 families who received emergency financial support from SOS Children’s Villages Indonesia after the earthquake. A thousand children also benefited from the SOS child-care spaces, where they had a safe place to play and learn. 

When Ms. Indah received the financial aid from SOS, she immediately brought Ari to the hospital. He now goes twice per week for physical therapy, and SOS continues to monitor the boy’s progress.

Ari's academic skills are excellent, and the fourth grader hopes to get a prosthesis so one day soon he will be able to walk to school on his own.

*Name changed to protect privacy

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