Video: 'The tsunami generation'

By Martin Fletcher Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/11/2005 7:35:37 PM ET 2005-01-12T00:35:37

It's the first day back at class and children chant the first verses of the Koran — thanking Allah for saving their lives in the tsunami. There are 105 children studying in three classrooms. The rest are empty.

Meanwhile, outside of this Banda Aceh high school, Samsamy, of the administration staff, compiles a sad list. As parents bring news of their children, the living get a check by their name. So far, he has only two children checked out of 44.

It’s a hard time for these teachers. Out of 1,275 school students, only 260 are registered. And Tuesday marks an official deadline — 15 days after the tragedy, the missing are presumed dead.

“It's important that the children come to class,” says Mr. Bukari, the principal. “It helps them cope. And a psychologist, if we had one.”

Then he interrupts class. Looking for their son, 12-year-old Tekeuange's parents brought in a poster looking for their son. Mr. Bukhari asks the children if anybody knows where Tekuange is. Nobody does.

NBC wanted to ask Tekuange's parents how they were coping, so crews drove deep into the heart of the devastation, looking for the boy — or his family anyway. No one had any news. Their neighborhood is mostly destroyed, the families gone. They're refugees, but they couldn’t be found at a refugee camp outside town.

Instead, NBC News found a tent school — not for math or language, but to learn how to cope. Dancing to stories of the Koran, there were smiles and laughter as refugee children were instructed through their trauma by Muslim helpers.

But even here, there’s pain, as a man shows a photo of his missing daughter and asks desperately for help that we can’t give — while in the background children dance and laugh.

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