Visiting 2004 Tsunami memorials with the kids

July 22, 2019

If Banda Aceh does not ring you a bell, for sure you recall the Tsunami that hit Asia on 26th December 2004. During our transfer to Pulau Weh we decided to visit the Tsunami memorials with the kids. It was not simple to explain to the kids what happened. Tommy just understood that big waves can be dangerous. Banda Aceh is very close to the epicentre of the earthquake that originated the Tsunami. The area suffered more than 167.000 death. This is the biggest tragedy that hit this land since the end of second world war.

Ace Tsunami Museum

Local authorities built a Museum to mourn the victims of this tragedy. More important, the museum aims to educate people on how to behave in case of Tsunami. Tsunami are not new in the history of Banda Aceh and Indonesia. Being one of the most seismic area in the planet, in the past people knew how to handle Tsunamis. For example, traditional houses were build some meters above the ground and with a narrow facade facing the sea.
These memories and traditions got lost. Apparently largely because of the conflict between the local independence movement and the central government. The tragedy was the engine to the peace between the two parties.

The Ace Tsunami Museum includes different informative areas, pictures and dioramas. The purpose is to explain what happened and what are best practises to adopt in case of Tsunami. The most impressive thing is probably the entrance. You first walk in a dark narrow corridor with water falling from the walls. Following it, you enter an area with videos displaying pictures of the tragedy (no death corpse pics!). Beyond the video area, there is a dome with the names of death people. The visit triggered many questions by Tommy. Except for the initial corridor that scared him a bit, he was happy about it.

During the visit, Tommy and Giò became the main characters of different selfies, like two little stars. So don’t be surprise if you see any picture of them around with Indonesian kids or ladies!

The Tsunami ship

One of the iconic images connected to the Tsunami is an electric generator ship that was moved from the Aceh harbour in the inland for 2 kilometres. Yes, you are reading correctly. The power of the Tsunami and the waves were so big that moved a 2600 Tons ship for 2 kilometres (destroying buildings and killing people on the path..). The ship is today a museum. See such a big ship in the middle of a city neighbourhood is quite shocking. It makes you realise the power of the event much more than the images of the tragedy at the Ace Tsunami Museum.

Should I take my kids to see the Tsunami monuments?

Tommy and Giò are surely too small to fully realise what these monuments are about. Still we thought that, given we have been assured there were not any extremely cruel pictures or videos, it was ok to visit the Tsunami memorials with the kids. We think that it is important for them to understand that nature needs to be respected and that its beauty does not necessarily mean that nature is safe (especially when humans disrupt it and don’t understand they will be the ones suffering consequences).

As said earlier, the outcome of the visit is that Tommy now knows that waves can be very big and dangerous. So big that they can destroy a city, move a ship on land and make people suffer. We hope that is will make him respect sea and be cautious about it.

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  1. Comment by Monica Colombo

    Monica Colombo Reply August 5, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Ricordare queste immani tragedie é sempre importante. Bravi che lo fate anche con i bambini!

    • Comment by federico

      federico Reply August 5, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      Grazie! È solo che spiegare certe cose ai piccoli è davvero complicato, e hai anche paura di spaventarli!

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