Indonesian teen calls for tsunami aid while studying in Iowa

Published: Oct. 5, 2018 at 12:03 AM CDT
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Imagine being half a globe away from your home and watching it fall apart. That nightmare is a reality for Indonesian teenager, Siti Nurhaliza Abd. Kadir, Liza to her friends.

She's going to school in Iowa as part of an exchange program while her family and hometown suffer nearly 9,000 miles away following a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

"I want to go home, but I'm not ready for seeing the reality that happened there," said Liza.

The disaster happened on the island of Central Sulawesi and devastated its capital city, Palu-- Liza's hometown. The death toll has reached more than 1,500 people.

Though Liza's family and home survived, cell service is terrible. She has only limited contact with them. Instead, the 17-year-old spends her mornings and evenings looking at videos, checking news sites, social media-- anywhere to find information. It's practically Liza's only option as she attends school at Mid-Prairie in Wellman.

Meanwhile, the exchange student's host family does what it can to keep the teen's spirits up while she waits to return to Indonesia, at the end of the school year.

"When she found out she came out to me and was like, 'Can I just have a hug?'" said Kim Gordon, Liza's host mother. "She just started crying and telling me everything that was going on. It's just heartbreaking because it's hard to know how to support her and what we can do for her."

Liza, of course, had the option to return home but made a choice to stay in America after speaking with her mother who reminded her daughter why she left in the first place.

"My mother said, 'You have to be strong," said Liza. "'You chase your dream. You have to stay.' This is my dream. I want to make my parents proud, my family proud because I am here because of them."

It's that opportunity Liza doesn't want to squander.

During her stay and amidst the struggle overseas she aims to advocate for her nation. It's why she reached out to TV9 in the first place, to urge people to give what they can as Palu recovers, in need of food, water, and medicine.

"They need everything," said Liza. "Even only $.25. They really need that. They really need help."

If you want to help, check out the links associated with this article.