For many, the trauma of an event such as a terrorist bombing never really leaves them. It becomes part of their life. They are reminded of their trauma not only by physical scars from the incident, but also the deep and sometimes unresolved psychological scars, which can often be the hardest to treat.
This year our team from Australia met with two men, Agus and Santoso, both of whom have been beneficiaries of our medical funding for ongoing treatment for their injuries, which were sustained in bombing and machete attacks.
Agus, 59, was one of the victims of the Tentena, Central Sulawesi marketplace bombing which took place on 29 May 2005. Twenty-two people were killed and 40 were badly wounded in this bombing by an Islamic militant group. The authorities arrested some of the terrorists, sentencing them to jail terms in 2007 and 2010 for organising the bombing.
For Agus, medical treatment for his wounds has been successful. A regular check up with our medical team ensures that we are doing the very best possible to assist him and his family with his ongoing recovery. The most difficult part for Agus is his psychological trauma. These are the unseen injuries, which doctors say are the most difficult to treat.
The journey is often long as they try to deal with the post-traumatic stress inflicted by the tragedy. Agus told us, “I will never return to be a seller in that marketplace where so many believers lost their lives. The memory of the event is still very real to me and I find it difficult to overcome.” However, Agus is part of a united community. One man said, “We have a forgiving heart and we will not take revenge …” This is a remarkable statement forgiveness to those who brought such tragedy on their community.
Santoso is also known for his forgiveness, as well as the wide smile always lighting his face. On Christmas Day 2004, he got up, then left home to set up for some Christmas Day celebrations. While riding his motorbike, he saw some farm workers on the side of the road, urging him to slow down.
As he drew closer, he saw one of them swing his machete to try and cut his head off. “When I saw the machete coming towards my head, I ducked…. it did not strike my neck, but I felt the blade cut deep into my mouth and teeth.”
He was able to speed off down the road until he fell from the loss of blood. Then, holding his wound, he ran for his life while the perpetrators chased after him.
Santoso had a full jaw reconstruction and many surgeries for the very large wounds to his cheeks courtesy of our medical team.
Santoso still bears the scars on his body but he has been able to overcome his psychological trauma by using this incident. AID Distribution International supports Santoso with a small chocolate plantation and a delivery van business so that he is able to provide an income for his family.