Bali widows struggling 5 years after bombs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2007, 12:00am

Five years after terrorist bombs claimed 202 lives in Bali's tourist heart, some of the widows of local victims remain haunted by what happened and still struggle to make ends meet.

Wayan Rastini, 35, says she will never forget how her husband, a taxi driver, acted strangely before going to work on that fatal day.

'He felt that it was not right to go, but it was only his fourth day at work and he went nevertheless. I never saw him again,' said the young woman, weeping uncontrollably.

Mrs Rastini's husband, Ketut Nana Wijaya, had parked his car just outside the Sari Club, one of the bars targeted by the bombers. Today, she and hundreds of others will gather in Kuta to mark the fifth anniversary of the bombings, in which 88 Australians, and 11 Hong Kong residents, were killed.

It was not to be the last terrorist attack on the Indonesian resort island. Bombings nearly three years later claimed another 26 lives.

Mrs Rastini says her life was unbearable for a while, but that the emptiness was partly filled by the job she got at the Adopta Co-Op, a co-operative set up by Australian philanthropist David Webb and his wife Moira in February 2003.

'There are five of us working here, all widows after the bombing. We have a job and a way to support our [10] children,' Mrs Rastini said.

Mr Webb organised sewing training for the five women and bought sewing machines. Other organisations and sponsors have also helped.

Mrs Rastini proudly shows off the T-shirts, bags, sarongs and hats they produce and sell. But she admits profits are small and life is still tough.

'We do not have a fixed income. On average I would say it is about 2,500,000 rupiah [HK$2,100] a month,' she said. 'From that, we have to subtract the costs of running the business, then divide it by five. But at least we can live with dignity.'

A charity is funding their children's education. The Indonesian government also helped, paying each widow 15 million rupiah.

'Unfortunately, I had to pay my husband's car. He had just bought it,' said Mrs Rastini, her eyes filling with tears again.