Kepulihan: Stories from the Tsunami

In December of 2004 an undersea earthquake produced a series of waves unlike any ever recorded. Reaching heights of 100 feet and traveling over 5,000 miles, "The Tsunami" - as we came to know it - leveled coastal communities, killing more than 230,000 people. The seismic force of this epic quake caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm. Ultimately it was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

Through the media's story and unforgettable images of devastation and chaos, communities around the world heard the anguished cries of those who had suffered unimaginable loss. Many of us struggled to comprehend what we were seeing and hearing; we also sought ways to reach out and address the massive humanitarian needs that emerged.

After more than four years, "the tsunami" and the faces and voices we could pick out from the bewildering coverage have become, for many of us, simply a jumble of troubling and confusing images that are slowly fading from our memories. And yet the voices that rang out in December of 2004 have continued to speak.

Out of the strands of shattered lives and flooded landscapes they have begun to weave tales of determination and redemption, of courage and of hope. The story they tell is "Kepulihan," an Indonesian word meaning healing and recovery. In "Kepulihan," you will encounter incredible individuals who tell stories of healing measured not in medical procedures administered, but in new dreams gained; stories of recovery made real in relationships built, not resources distributed. Their voices tell us their own story of hope out of chaos - the story of "Kepulihan."

Kepulihan: Stories from the Tsunami is a 1 hour documentary that chronicles the struggles and triumphs of three survivors, Yadi, Mahmud, and Damai, as they rebuild their communities and reclaim their lives. Each survivor chose to be part of this project and actively participated in the process of production and documentation. As the filmmakers returned to Sumatra each year, survivors were able to view their interviews and stories from the previous year, reflect upon where they had been and share new stories in the timeline of their recovery. The result is a unique time-lapse documentary that captures the healing and transformation of each individual, while leveraging the power of story to the survivors.

In a time when disasters and disaster relief are part of the daily news cycle, a conversation about the meaning and significance of long-term recovery is timely and essential. Through the voice of each survivor, this documentary gives insight into the meaning of recovery. In the wake of unimaginable loss and trauma, they struggle to reclaim their own voice and sense of purpose; but as recovery takes root and is cultivated by each survivor, they reach out and touch the lives of those around them. Their stories remind us that life does not end with each disaster, but continues to be reclaimed with each day.

The stories and recovery programs in this film were made possible by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance together with its partners. Generous tsunami giving has made long-term recovery a reality for communities in Indonesia.