Maharani binti Marzuki, center. (Antara Photo)

Thanks to Facebook, Indonesian Woman Found in Syria After 11 Years


SEPTEMBER 22, 2019

Jakarta. An Indonesian worker who has been missing for 11 years has been reunited with her family after a relative spotted her photograph on a stranger's Facebook account.

Thirty-year-old Maharani binti Marzuki had spent most of her time in war-torn Syria during her absence, a family member said on Saturday.

Maharani left her village in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara, for Syria in 2008. Her family lost contact with her as soon as she arrived in the war-ravaged country and never heard anything from her again during the next decade.

The family had assumed Maharani was missing or dead until a woman unknown to them uploaded a photograph of her on Facebook.

"We started to learn the whereabouts of my sister-in-law from a Facebook account belonging to a woman named Arsi who posted a photo of Maharani around Agustus this year," Sandy Farboy told Antara news agency at the Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara while waiting for Maharani’s arrival on Saturday night.

Maharani was already in Jakarta when the interview happened.

Sandy tried to contact Maharani on the Facebook account but did not get any response. A week later, he messaged all the names on the account's friends list and eventually one of them gave him Arsi's cellphone number. 

Sandy sent a WhatsApp message to the number and to his surprise, Arsi responded.

"I was surprised that Arsi replied to my message. She told me the chronology of events leading up to the Facebook post," Sandy said.

Maharani binti Marzuki. (Photo courtesy of Indonesian Migrant Workers Union or SBMI)
Maharani binti Marzuki. (Photo courtesy of Indonesian Migrant Workers Union)

Arsi said she had met Maharani in a shop in Syria. They soon learned they were both from Indonesia. Not only that, Aris was also from West Nusa Tenggara, Sandy said.

Maharani asked Arsi to post her photograph on Facebook because she did not have an account of her own. 

Sandy contacted Agus Gia, a representative of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (SBMI) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and asked for his help to communicate with Maharani. 

"We were finally in contact after 11 years of not hearing anything from her," Sandy said.

Younger sister Maharina said the last time Maharani contacted the family was when she called their father to tell him that she had landed in Syria in 2008.

Since she never called anymore, the family assumed she had died in Syria. 

Maharina and Sandy said they were thankful to the Indonesian Embassy in Damascus, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the SBMI for their help in finding Maharani and bringing her home.