Tsunami survivor finds new purpose in life

KOTA BARU - When the deadly tsunami struck Penang in 2004, survivor Tan Poh Choo lost all her four children.

"It is something that will always stay in my mind," she said teary-eyed when recalling the incident on Boxing Day that year.

Since the disaster, Tan said she had not been able to move on and always felt depressed.

"Every day, all I could think of is my children. However, after looking at the flood victims in Kelantan, I am inspired to help them," she told The Star after distributing aid at SMK Kubang Kerian 2 here yesterday.

She said the memory of her children was her main inspiration, adding that her humanitarian activities had turned her life around.

"It has helped me move on and I keep myself busy by helping others. I hope that the lives of the flood victims will return to normal," she said.

Tan was among the hundreds of volunteers under the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation who distributed humanitarian assistance at several relief centres across Kelantan.

They had chartered a commercial flight to carry the aid from Penang.

Some 900 families at the relief centres received the aid, which included food, blankets, medical equipment and cash.

For evacuee Norizan Ismail, who is in her late 40s, she has lost her source of income when the floods swept away her house in Kampung Waqaf Che Yeh.

"My house was totally submerged five days ago and I have lost my source of income," said Norizan, who, as a cleaner, had kept her equipment in the house.

"I have two disabled children and my husband is not well," said Norizan, who is currently depending on crutches to walk around.

Relying on aid from the authorities, she was nevertheless glad that her family had escaped unscathed from the rising waters.

"I do not know what to do now as the school stuff I bought for my children was left at home when we escaped," she said.

Another victim, Che Yam Mahmud, 60, said the floods had left her family stranded at the relief centre without anything.

"I was so worried when the water reached the waist level. We left our house without taking anything with us. Now, I am going to Kuala Lumpur to meet my children," she said.