Sunday, August 13, 2006


This is Jones Ginting. He lives in a village near Kaben Jahe, North Sumatra with his wife and two kids. They’re really nice people.

Last April, Jones (it’s pronounced “yoh’-nahs”) was at a backyard barbeque with his family, when his sister started feeling sick. Over the next two days, she was struck with a terrible fever and died. Then his father himself, and five other family members started having stabbing pains and aches in their limbs. Everyone but Jones died in the hospital. Later tests revealed that they’d contracted a new strain of the H5N1 avian influenza virus. One that is able to be transmitted from human to human.

A journalist I met from Indonesian Metro TV brought me to Jones’ house, and when we arrived, he was sleeping. His wife laid out a mat on the tile floor for us to sit and wait while Jonas slept. I offered to come back later, but she said “But he’s always sleeping. If you go away, he’ll just get up and go back to sleep by the time you return.”

That’s a Megadeath tee-shirt he’s wearing. He’s got some serious ink on his arms and legs – most of it fantasy and religious symbols you’d expect to see on metal jacket covers.

Jones is a very soft spoken guy, and doesn’t have a lot to say about the ordeal. He wants to move on, to raise his two sons, and to take on the responsibilities of the family’s orange grove. For right now, he’s focused on gaining back the 22 pounds he lost during his fever.