10 years after tsunami, Indonesian family reborn

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Aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami


MEULABOH, Indonesia (AP) -- It all started with a dream that led to a chance meeting: A girl who had been swept away by the Indian Ocean tsunami a decade ago.

For three nights, the child's uncle said she visited him in his sleep. When he told the girl's mother, Jamaliah, it was hard to believe. The daughter was only 4 when a towering wave ripped her away with her 7-year-old brother, clinging to a board.

But the mother had always been convinced both children were still out there and that the family would be reunited.

Soon after the dream, the uncle ran into a 14-year-old orphan girl who had survived the disaster and washed up on a remote island with her older brother. They had stayed alive by riding a slab of wood.

The odds were impossible, but after the uncle sent a photo of the girl, the mother became convinced God was giving their family a second chance.

"I said, `I'm sure that's my daughter,'" she recalled. "I felt the connection in my womb."

A month later, Jamaliah had the same feeling. This time, after hearing that a 17-year-old homeless boy calling her "mom" had also been found.

But was it real, or all just a dream?

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It was just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004. Jamaliah, who uses only one name, was hanging clothes on the line while her three kids were inside watching TV.

When the 9.1 magnitude quake hit, Jamaliah, her husband, Septi Rangkuti, and the children ran outside their house, which sat about 500 meters (550 yards) from the sea.

They then heard people screaming: "The water is coming! The water is coming!"

The family leaped onto their motorbike and made it as far as the market, but couldn't outrun the wall of black water. Jamaliah and her 8-year-old son were pulled away by the wave, but somehow they managed to hang on to each other.

Rangkuti put his 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter on top of a large floating board. He held on as long as he could, but when the water sucked back to the sea, his fingers slipped and they were dragged off by the angry torrent.

Hours later, Jamaliah and their oldest son found Rangkuti wandering on a street. One look at his empty eyes, and she knew the kids were gone.

Some 230,000 people in 14 countries were killed that day in one of the worst natural disasters in modern history, with Indonesia's Aceh province logging nearly three-quarters of the deaths.

Most of the 1,500 children found after the disaster were returned to their families or taken in by neighbors or friends, though some ended up in orphanages, said Bukhari, who uses one name and heads the Aceh provincial Social Affairs Office.

"The uncertainty of what happened to those children, the desperate hope that maybe they did survive somehow, that irresistible idea that they might be reunited, what parent wouldn't think about that?" said Harry Minas, a mental health expert from the University of Melbourne who has worked in Aceh.

Jamaliah and Rangkuti spent a month and a half searching for their son, Arif Pratama, and their daughter, Raudhatul Jannah, along a chewed-up coast tangled by debris. They had lost everything, and with no money and a surviving son to look after, they decided to stay with relatives several hours away.

Time passed, and the family tried to move on. Jamaliah had a baby boy two years later, and Rangkuti finally started to let go of his grief. But neither gave up hope they would one day find their lost children.

"I believed it in my heart," Jamaliah said. "I prayed every night because of the strong emotional connection to my kids. I believed we would be together again."

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10 years after tsunami, Indonesian family reborn
Indonesia was hit the hardest by the Indian Ocean tsunami ten years ago. This was their way of commemorating the 160, 000 or more who died in Aceh Province alone. These were the scenes in the immediate aftermath when the massive wave struck. The death toll rose day by day as bodies littered the streets and others were washed ashore. Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said Friday's ceremony was as much about the future as the past.
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (LEFT) and 2014 (RIGHT) ***LEFT IMAGE*** ACEH, INDONESIA - JANUARY 8, 2005: An aerial shot taken from a US Navy Seahawk helicopter from carrier USS Abraham Lincoln shows devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami to the west of Aceh on January 8, 2005 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka are the countries most affected by the December 26 earthquake-tsunami disaster. (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 11: An aerial view of coastal in Lampuuk prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** TON SAI BAY-PHI PHI ISLAND, THAILAND - DECEMBER 28: Bodies cover the area, waiting, to be transported by boat to Phuket and Krabi on December 28, 2004 in Phi Phi Village, on Ton Sai Bay, Thailand. On Phi Phi island hundreds were killed when an earthquake caused a Tsunami wave destroying everything in its path. The powerful Asian earthquake has effected coastal areas in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India in addition to the tourist isles of Thailand, the death toll is over 50,000. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** PHI PHI ISLAND, THAILAND - DECEMBER 11: A construction worker walks where new buildings are taking place prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Phi Phi Village, Ton Sai Bay, Thailand. The tenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killing almost 250,000 people will be remembered on December 26. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** PHI PHI ISLAND, THAILAND - DECEMBER 28: Rescue workers carry a body from a shop, December 28, 2004 in Phi Phi Village, Ton Sai Bay, Thailand. Hundreds were killed on the island when an earthquake caused a Tsunami wave destroying everything in its path. The powerful Asian earthquake has effected coastal areas in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and the tourist isles of Thailand, the death toll is over 20,000. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** PHI PHI ISLAND, THAILAND - DECEMBER 12: People walk along the streets prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 12, 2014 in Phi Phi Village, Ton Sai Bay, Thailand. The tenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killing almost 250,000 people will be remembered on December 26. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** ACEH, INDONESIA - JANUARY 8, 2005: An aerial shot taken from a US Navy Seahawk helicopter from carrier USS Abraham Lincoln shows devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami to the west of Aceh on January 8, 2005 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka are the countries most affected by the December 26 earthquake-tsunami disaster. (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 11: An aerial view of houses in Lampuuk prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (LEFT) and 2014 (RIGHT) ***LEFT IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 28: A scene of devastation is seen in the tsunami hit Indonesian City of Banda Aceh -150 miles from southern Asia's massive earthquake's epicenter - on December 28, 2004, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Up to 55,000 are feared dead across South East Asia and the number is still rising with the possibility of disease outbreaks threatening to claim more as time goes on. (Photo by: Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 11: People visit the Grand Mosque prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 28: A scene of devastation is seen in the tsunami hit Indonesian City of Banda Aceh -150 miles from southern Asia's massive earthquake's epicenter - on December 28, 2004, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Up to 55,000 are feared dead across South East Asia and the number is still rising with the possibility of disease outbreaks threatening to claim more as time goes on. (Photo by: Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 11: A cart drives by in Taman sari park prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE : GRAPHIC CONTENT) A man walks amid dead bodies and debris thrown around by a Tsunami that hit the Indonesian City of Banda Aceh - 150 miles from southern Asia's massive earthquake's epicentre December 28, 2004 in Banda Ache, Indonesia. Up to 25,000 were feared dead and the possibility of disease outbreaks threatened to claim more lives. (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 10: People drive along W.R Supratman street prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 10, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE : GRAPHIC CONTENT) A man looks for relatives amid dead bodies and debris thrown around by a Tsunami that hit the Indonesian City of Banda Aceh - 150 miles from southern Asia's massive earthquake's epicentre December 28, 2004 in Banda Ache, Indonesia. Up to 25,000 were feared dead and the possibility of disease outbreaks threatened to claim more lives. (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 10: People drive on Pembangunan street prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 10, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE : GRAPHIC CONTENT) Acehnese walk amid dead bodies and debris thrown around by a Tsunami that hit the Indonesian City of Banda Aceh - 150 miles from southern Asia's massive earthquake's epicentre December 28, 2004 in Banda Ache, Indonesia. Up to 25,000 were feared dead and the possibility of disease outbreaks threatened to claim more lives. (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 10: People drive along Panglima Polim street prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 10, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - JANUARY 8, 2005: An aerial shot taken from a US Navy Seahawk helicopter from carrier USS Abraham Lincoln shows devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami to the west of Aceh on January 8, 2005 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka are the countries most affected by the December 26 earthquake-tsunami disaster. (Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 11: An aerial view of houses prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photos by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** PATONG, THAILAND - DECEMBER 27: A bank automated teller machine rests submerged in the pool of the Holiday Inn hotel near wrecked cars December 27, 2004 along Patong Beach, one of the worst hit provinces of Phuket, Thailand. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami to hit the coastal areas of South East Asia, killing more than 20,000 people with thousands still missing. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** PHUKET, THAILAND - DECEMBER 10: Children play in the pool at the Holiday Inn Phuket Resort and Hotel on December 10, 2014 at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand. The tenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killing almost 250,000 people will be remembered on December 26. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** PHI PHI ISLAND, THAILAND - DECEMBER 28: All over Ton Sai Bay, the heart of Koh Phi Phi shops, restaurants and bungalows were totally wiped out following a Tsunami December 28, 2004 on Phi Phi Island, Thailand. Hundreds were killed when an earthquake caused a Tsunami wave destroying everything in its path. The powerful Asian earthquake has effected coastal areas in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and tourist isles of Thailand, the death toll is over 20,000. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** PHI PHI ISLAND, THAILAND - DECEMBER 12 : A general view of the beach prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 12, 2014 in Phi Phi Village, Ton Sai Bay, Thailand. The tenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killing almost 250,000 people will be remembered on December 26. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between a scene in 2004 (TOP) and 2014 (BOTTOM) ***TOP IMAGE*** PATONG, THAILAND - DECEMBER 27: A Thai woman walks by the devastation at a hotel along Patong Beach, one of the worst hit provinces December 27, 2004 in Phuket, Thailand. A tsunami, caused by an earthquake estimated to be 9.0 in magnitude, is responsible for killing thousands of people throughout Asia. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) ***BOTTOM IMAGE*** PHUKET, THAILAND - DECEMBER 10: Tourists get massages at a small parlor near the beach on December 10, 2014 at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand. The tenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killing almost 250,000 people will be remembered on December 26. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
Giorgio Capriccioli of Italy releases flowers following ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009, in Phuket, Thailand, to remember those killed in the 2004 tsunami five years ago. About 230,000 people were killed in 14 Asian and African countries after the tsunami struck following a massive undersea earthquake off Indonesia. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Western tourist and others gather to light candles during remembrance services at Dolphin Park on Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008, on the fourth anniversary of the Asian Tsunami.More than 230,000 people were killed when the tsunami struck Dec. 26, 2004. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Thais and others offer prayers during remembrance services at Dolphin Park on Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008, on the fourth anniversary of the Asian Tsunami. From India to Indonesia, communal prayers, shared meals and candlelight vigils were held Friday to honor victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
A lone Buddhist monk makes his way past a tsunami warning sign Sunday, June 26, 2005, in Ban Nam Khem, Thailand. Sunday marks the six month anniversary of what many officials are calling the worst natural disaster of the century. More than 300, 000 are believed to have been killed throughout Asia in a massive tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, that was triggered by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Thais light up candle during the candlelight vigil for the tsunami victims at the Patong beach in Phuket, southern Thailand Monday, Jan. 31, 2005. Patong beach is one of the devastated areas when the tsunami struck six of Thailand's southern provinces on Dec. 26, 2004 killing at least 5,392 Thais and foreigners. The ceremony was held to help boosting the morale of survivors and to show to the world the importance of establishing a tsunami warning system. (AP Photo/Teh Eng Koon)
Thai Buddhist monk Somboon Thavaro meditates in the living room of a destroyed home Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005, near Ban Nam Khem, Thailand. Somboon traveled to Ban Nam Khem to offer religious guidance to those whose homes and loved ones were lost in the massive tsunami which struck southern Thailand on Dec. 26, 2004. More than 5000 people are listed as killed by the tsunami with more than half of that foreign tourist. Thailand continues to dig out from the disaster. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
A young Thai girl plays in a pile of donated clothes Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005, near Khoa Lak, Thailand. Khoa Lak was destroyed on Dec. 26, 2004, when a massive tsunami struck southern Thailand. More than 5000 people are listed as killed by the tsunami with more than half of that foreign tourist. Thailand continues to dig out from the disaster. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
An aerial view of Phi Phi island in Krabi province, southern Thailand Friday, Dec. 31, 2004. Teams of forensic experts packed bodies in dry ice Friday as Thailand's government announced its death toll in the tsunami disaster had doubled to more than 4,500 people, almost half of them foreigners, and hopes faded more survivors would be found. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
The school portrait of a young Thai girl sits outside her destroyed home in Ban Nam Khem, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 31, 2004. Villagers report that the young girl was killed by the tsunami wave that struck the costal town which is north of Phuket, Thailand. More than 4,500 people, half of them foreigners, are listed dead in Thailand's tsunami wave disaster. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Volunteers search the beach for bodies near Khao Lak, Thailand, for those killed by a massive tsunami Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. More than 1,500 people have been killed in Thailand by a tidal wave that struck the popular beach area last Sunday. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
A boat passes by a damaged hotel, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004, at Ton Sai Bay on Phi Phi Island, in Thailand. Officials said around 44,000 people were killed in 11 countries in southern Asia and Africa after massive tsunami waves smashed coastlines Sunday morning. The Thai government said more than 1,500 people died, among them more than 700 tourists. (AP Photo/Suzanne Plunkett)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 photo, tsunami survivor Jamaliah, center, walks with Raudhatul Jannah, right, and Arif Pratama, whom she believes to be her two children separated with her when the village they lived in was hit by the killer waves in 2004, in their neighborhood in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia. Although there has been no DNA test the parents are convinced that the children belong them. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo, Dipa Dhaurali, 20, right, and Dipak Dhaurali, left, hold up a photograph of their father, Bhesraj Dhaurali, a tailor from Myanmar of Nepalese descent, and their mother after he was exhumed at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in Ban Bangmuang in Phang Nga province, Thailand. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo, the body of Bhesraj Dhaurali, a tailor from Myanmar of Nepalese descent, is exhumed at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in Ban Bangmuang in Phang Nga province, Thailand. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo, Dipa Dhaurali, 20, prays during the cremation of her father, Bhesraj Dhaurali, a tailor from Myanmar of Nepalese descent, after he was exhumed at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in Ban Bangmuang in Phang Nga province, Thailand. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Papitchaya Boonngok)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT - In this Dec. 28, 2004 image made from video, a man's body is removed by recovery workers from wreckage caused by the tsunami in Khao Lak, Thailand. The tsunami that struck on Dec. 26, 2004, was one of the world’s worst natural disasters in modern times. It followed a magnitude 9.1 earthquake that ruptured the sea floor off Indonesia’s Sumatra island, displacing billions of tons of water and sending waves 10 meters (33 feet) high radiating across the Indian Ocean at jetliner speeds. Associated Press journalists who covered the story recall some of the most poignant images from the disaster. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
Photo by: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx 12/26/04 This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. (Patong, Phuket, Thailand)
In this photo taken on Nov. 7, 2014, Aye Pu, mother of May Aye Nwe, 20, who was lost at sea during the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, wipes her tears during an interview at her home in Seint Paing, Myanmar. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand, including Maye Aye Nwe’s mother. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, Aye Pu, now a 55-year-old widow, says her healing process can finally begin. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
In this photo taken on Nov. 7, 2014, survivor Khin Htway Yee, who was with her friend May Aye Nwe on a small boat when she was killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, is interviewed in Seint Paing, Myanmar. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand which has 418 unclaimed bodies. Experts believe most of the bodies are migrant workers from Myanmar, who were traveling to Thailand illegally and had no documents. When they died, no one knew who they were, and those who did know were too scared to go to authorities. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
In this photo taken on Nov. 16, 2014, Aye Pu, mother of May Aye Nwe, 20, who was lost at sea during the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, holds up her daughter's student identification card during an interview at her home in Seint Paing, Myanmar. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand, including Maye Aye Nwe’s mother. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, Aye Pu, now a 55-year-old widow, says her healing process can finally begin. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
In this photo taken on Nov. 7, 2014, a family photo of May Aye Nwe, center, Saw Htay, right, her late father, and her mother Aye Pu is displayed at her home in Seint Paing, Myanmar. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, Aye Pu, now a 55-year-old widow, says her healing process can finally begin. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
In this photo taken on Nov. 16, 2014, Aye Pu, mother of May Aye Nwe, 20, who was lost at sea during the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, is interviewed at her home in Seint Paing, Myanmar. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, Aye Pu, now a 55-year-old widow, says her healing process can finally begin. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo, a metal plaque on a concrete stone serving as a headstone bears a reference number for May Aye Nwe, 20, from Myanmar, who died during the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in Ban Bangmuang in Phang Nga province, Thailand. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo, Dipa Dhaurali, 20, seated left, and her brother Dipak Dhaurali, 19, standing third left, participate in the funeral of their father, Bhesraj Dhaurali, a tailor from Myanmar of Nepalese descent, after he was exhumed at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in Ban Bangmuang in Phang Nga province, Thailand. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Papitchaya Boonngok)
In this Nov. 27, 2014 photo, an earthmover digs up a plot of ground as the body of Bhesraj Dhaurali, a tailor from Myanmar of Nepalese descent, is exhumed at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in Ban Bangmuang in Phang Nga province, Thailand. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 photo, tsunami survivor Jamaliah, center, sits in her living room with Raudhatul Jannah, left, and Arif Pratama, whom she believes to be her two children separated with her when the village they lived in was hit by the killer waves in 2004, in their house in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia. Although there has been no DNA test the parents are convinced that the children belong them. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 photo, Arif Pratama, left, and Raudhatul Jannah who are believed to be the two children of tsunami survivor Jamaliah relax at the front porch of their house in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia. Although there has been no DNA test the parents are convinced that the children belong them and they have been separated from them when the village they lived in was hit by the killer waves in 2004. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 photo, Raudhatul Jannah, left, and Arif Pratama who are believed to be the two children of tsunami survivor Jamaliah after being separated with her when the village they lived in was hit by the killer waves in 2004, stand at a front porch of their house during an interview in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia. Although there has been no DNA test the parents are convinced that the children belong them. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 photo, Arif Pratama, left, and Raudhatul Jannah who are believed to be the two children of tsunami survivor Jamaliah after being separated with her when the village they lived in was hit by the killer waves in 2004, sit on the living room of their house during an interview in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia. Although there has been no DNA test the parents are convinced that the children belong them. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
Septi Rangkuti (2nd L) holds his son Jumadi Rangkuti next to his wife Jamaliah (top R) and daugther Raudhatul Jannah (L) after being reunited with his missing son Arif Pratama Rangkuti (lower R) in Payakumbuh town on Sumatra island on August 19, 2014. The Indonesian boy was swept away by the devastating 2004 tsunami and has been reunited with his family a decade after he was given up for dead. His sister Raudhatul Jannah was also reunited with her family on August 7, 2014. Arif and her sister Raudhatul Jannah were carried off when huge waves struck their home in West Aceh district on December 26, 2004. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian mother Jamaliah is reunited with her missing son Arif Pratama Rangkuti in Payakumbuh town on Sumatra island on August 19, 2014. The Indonesian boy was swept away by the devastating 2004 tsunami and has been reunited with his family a decade after he was given up for dead. His sister Raudhatul Jannah was also reunited with her family on August 7, 2014. Arif and her sister Raudhatul Jannah were carried off when huge waves struck their home in West Aceh district on December 26, 2004. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 25: Buddhist worshipers pray for victims to commemorate the ten anniversary of tsunami at mass grave on December 25, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 25: Acehnese women attend for an collective zikr to commemorate the ten anniversary of tsunami at Baiturrahman grand mosque on December 25, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 25: A woman puts a bouquet of flowers as pray for victims to commemorate the ten anniversary of tsunami at mass grave on December 25, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
PHANG NGA, THAILAND - DECEMBER 25: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) People commemorate the victims a day before the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 25, 2014 in Phang Nga province, Thailand. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
NAGAPATTINAM, INDIA DECEMBER 25: Leftover life-jackets lie in an old school building, used as a relief center during the 2004 Tsunami, in fishermens village of Akkaraipettai on December 25, 2014 in Nagapattinam, India. Nagapattinam was one of Tamil Nadus worst-hit places when the tsunami tore through south Asia 10 years ago. On December 26, 2004, a devastating tsunami triggered by an under-sea quake off Sumatra in Indonesia hit Tamil Nadus coast in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Chennai and Kanyakumari. The killer waves claimed around 8,000 lives - men, women and children. Some 6,100 died in Nagapattinam alone. Over 230,000 were killed in the tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and the Maldives. (Photo by Gurinder Osan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
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This summer, Jamaliah's older brother, Zainuddin, called with stunning news.

He'd had a dream three nights in a row about a girl in Banda Aceh. The morning after the third night, he visited a cafe not far from his house and was shocked to see a face that looked just like the one from his dreams - a younger version of Jamaliah.

He learned the girl was a tsunami orphan, and later discovered from the foster family that a fisherman found her and a boy on the sparsely populated Banyak islands, about six and a half hours by car and boat from Jamaliah's house in Meulaboh.

The girl had little memory of life before the tsunami.

"I remember when we were on the board. I was there with my brother," she said. "I was found by someone on the beach and taken to a house. That's where we were split."

In July, Jamaliah and Rangkuti traveled 100 kilometers (60 miles) to meet the girl called Weniati. At first sight, the mother said it was hard to tell if she was really her child.

Since the tsunami, the girl had lived with three different relatives in one foster family and was now located in South Aceh. She had not attended school regularly and only had a fourth-grade education.

Jamaliah was permitted to take her back to Meulaboh, where they had lived when the tsunami hit, for three days. The desperate mother said she prayed for a sign that the girl would remember something from her childhood.

Much of the town had been destroyed and rebuilt, but a house that belonged to Jamaliah's mother had survived. When the girl saw it, memories of eating sweet tropical fruit came back.

"She remembered the chicken coop and the rambutan tree," Jamaliah said. "She remembered waiting for durian that her grandmother used to give her."

This was all the sign she needed, and Jamaliah wanted to bring her home with them for good to Meulaboh. She said the foster family was hesitant and asked for a DNA test. The parents agreed, but said they had no money for to pay for it.

Sarwani, the foster grandmother who last cared for the girl, said she later agreed to let her go.

"It turned out that Weniati herself is confident that Jamaliah is her mother and Rangkuti is her father," she said. "What can I say? I don't want to impede the reunion of a daughter and her mother."

In the meantime, Jamaliah was on national television with the girl she was calling her daughter. The exposure caught the attention of Lana Bestir in West Sumatra, who had been feeding a homeless boy for years after he turned up at her Internet cafe.

When a photo of the young siblings taken before the tsunami flashed on the screen, she was shocked. It looked similar to the boy she knew as Ucok. She said she showed him a picture of Jamaliah from the Internet, without giving him any information about her.

"This is my mother. Yes, this is my mother, Liah!" Bestir recalled the boy saying after staring at the photo. "I want to meet her."

When she got the call, Jamaliah, whose nickname is Liah, wondered: Could a second miracle really be possible? She went to the boy immediately, but he was also hard to identify.

He was much darker than Arif had been, and his forehead also bore a melted scar. Arif had been a top student, but this boy did not know his name and could hardly speak any language. He also had the mentality of a young child.

He remembered washing up on the beach and being taken to live with a family, but he doesn't know where. He said that one day, when he stayed in bed too long, a woman in the house threw scalding coffee in his face. After that, the street became his home.

"I was sad at first," Jamaliah recalled. "But then I said, `Whatever happened to my son, I've been waiting so long, I can be patient and take care of him now.'"

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It hasn't been easy since the family moved in together. At first, Arif kept going to the neighbors, begging for money and food. Jamaliah suspects he may still be traumatized. Many children who survived the tsunami were confused and suffered mental health issues, including some who were unable to talk or remember their own names.

He's now speaking fluently, and she plans to send him to a religious boarding school to instill discipline and give him a basic education. The family recently moved from Meulaboh back to North Sumatra to be near the father's family.

Jamaliah also wants to get Raudhatul caught up in school. She said there's still some wrangling with members of the foster family who are less supportive, but they have agreed to let her stay for now. Repeated calls and texts by The Associated Press seeking comment from them were not returned.

After the children were interviewed by police, the village head signed a document saying they belong to Jamaliah and Rangkuti.

"I don't want to go back," Raudhatul said. "I'm happier here because I'm with my real family."

Jamaliah said some people question whether their story is true, but none of that matters to them. Even if a DNA test came back negative, she said it would never stop a mother's love.

"It feels like a reborn family," she said, smiling. "I sometimes feel like it's a dream. Is it real or not? But then I just trust in God and believe that this is my family."

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