Tsunami victim reunited with her parents after 10 years (VIDEO)

Aug 8, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Image: CBSNews.com

An Indonesian couple watched their 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son wash away in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. Amazingly, they were recently reunited with their daughter — an entire decade later.

I love happy stories where the unexpected happens, and this has to be one of the best I have ever read. The catastrophic Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Indonesia and other nearby countries in 2004, and more than 227,000 people were reported dead.

In one family, the children were the unfortunate victims. Raudhatul Jannah, age 4, and her brother, Arif Pratama Rangkuti, age 7, were clinging to a plank of wood when the full force of the tsunami swept them both from their parents' grasp. Their mom and dad were grief-stricken and heartbroken, assuming both children had perished in the disaster.

Indonesia Tsnumai 2004 | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: CBSNews.com

The story has a beautiful twist, however. Unbeknownst to her mom and dad, after the the little girl was swept away, she came to rest on a remote island. A fisherman found her, rescued her and returned her to the mainland. Once there, his mother named her Wenni and took care of the girl for the next 10 years.

Fast forward a decade. Her uncle noticed a teenage girl who resembled his missing niece, and after asking around, he discovered that she had been found on Banyak Island after the tsunami. The puzzle pieces were soon connected and she was reunited with her family, who were overjoyed to be reconnected to their daughter.

I simply cannot imagine enduring the loss of my children in the way this family did, and having no idea that either of them would ever be recovered. To have completely given up hope and gone on with their lives, only to be told that one of their children did survive and was on her way home, had to be unendurably joyful.

The family now has hope that their son, who would be 17 years old, also survived the tsunami. While this is unfortunately unlikely, they plan to start searching on the island where their daughter was found. They report that if she survived, maybe he did as well.

I do admit that I wonder how her foster mother feels. While she's most likely happy that the girl is back with her family, she was a big part of her life for 10 years and this probably feels like a major loss to her. I hope that they do keep in contact, and I'm sure the girl's family is grateful she was cared for like a daughter during that time.

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