Reunited by TikTok: in Indonesia, long-lost twins find each other after more than 20 years

  • Sisters Treni and Trena were separated weeks after their birth, and the family lost touch with them after sectarian violence in 1999 forced them to move
  • But when Treni’s popular videos on social media drew the attention of Trena’s neighbour, mistaken identity led to a joyful reunion

Two Indonesian twin sisters who were separated several weeks after their birth have been reunited, against all odds – and it’s all thanks to TikTok.

Treni Fitri Yana, now a blogger and online store owner, and housewife Trena Mustika were born 24 years ago to a couple in the city of Ambon, the capital of the remote Maluku province in eastern Indonesia. Their parents were migrants from West Java who had relocated to the province in the 1990s under a government transmigration programme to level out population density across the archipelago.

But trouble struck a few years after the family arrived. “We received a suggestion from a respected elder in Maluku that if we raised Trena and Treni together, they would die,” Enceng Dedi, the twins’ biological father, told local news website Kompas.com.

“My wife’s sibling had raised twins and they both died,” Enceng said, without mentioning the cause of their deaths. “We were scared, so we asked [our neighbours] to raise our daughters when they were two months old.”

For nearly two years, Enceng and his wife visited the twins at both their adoptive homes, until sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians broke out in the Christian-majority province in 1999. The conflict lasted four years, forcing many Javanese migrants, including Enceng and his family, to return to their hometowns.

Enceng and his wife were able to locate and regain custody of Trena, as her adoptive family had moved back to Garut, a town in West Java that was only a few hours from their home in Tasikmalaya, where Trena grew up with six biological siblings.

However, the family lost contact with Treni, whose foster parents, Rini and Misranto, had returned to East Java.

The odds were stacked against Enceng’s family ever seeing Treni again. She had moved to Blitar – more than 10 hours away from Tasikmalaya – with her adoptive parents. Furthermore, her name had been changed from Treni Mustika to Treni Fitri Yana.

Treni never knew she had a twin, let alone a family in West Java, until she joined TikTok, which she regularly uses to share videos to her more than 8,300 followers.

Her videos on the ByteDance-owned app, which typically document her daily life with her two children, have been liked more than 70,000 times.

Treni also runs a popular YouTube page, which has 40,000 subscribers and has racked up a total of 8.6 million views since 2014.

Trena, now a housewife and not as active as Treni on social media, was told by a neighbour one day about how much she enjoyed her videos.

The TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Trena had never used the Chinese-owned video-sharing app before discovering her long lost twin. Photo: TNS

Trena was baffled by the comment as she had never used TikTok. She soon chalked up the resemblance to pure coincidence, but her biological siblings were not as certain.

Suspecting the TikTok star was their long-lost sister, they tracked Treni down based on her details on social media, which she uses to run an online shop.

Posing as a buyer, they then moved to asking Treni about her adoptive parents, but she brushed them off thinking they were scammers.

“They were asking my name, my parents’ names,” Treni said. “I ignored them at first, because I didn’t know them and I was worried that it might be a scam.”

My mother was shocked, she didn’t want to lose me

Treni Fitri Yana

But they convinced Treni to look up her twin sister on Facebook.

“She apparently really looked like me, from the way she was photographed, her hijab style, and other things,” said Treni, who returned home to talk to her adoptive mother about the matter.

“My mother was shocked, she didn’t want to lose me,” she said.

The sisters then began to communicate regularly via WhatsApp and planned to meet in real life. Within weeks, Treni was visiting Tasikmalaya by train, accompanied by her children, husband, and foster mother. The sisters planned to meet at Trena’s house, but the latter decided to surprise her by picking her up directly at the railway station.

Video footage shows Treni, holding her baby, sitting in the back seat of a car surrounded by journalists who flocked to the station to document the meeting.

In a heartwarming surprise, Trena showed up at the car’s side door and hugged her sister while both women – who were unexpectedly wearing green hijabs – bawled. Outside the car, the twins’ father and siblings also had gathered to meet Treni.

“You told me that you couldn’t meet me here, but you’re here now. I was holding back my tears because I don’t want to keep crying, but now I can’t help it,” Treni said, hugging both her baby and sister. “I finally met my family.”

YouTube videos uploaded to Treni’s channel show that the two sisters have spent some time together recently, from shopping to visiting their biological mother’s grave, and going to Trena’s neighbour’s house to thank her personally for reuniting the sisters.

Enceng, whose wife died in 2018, said his wife had never lost hope their daughter was out there.

“My wife had always believed that Treni was still alive and she would be with us again,” he said.

By : Resty Woro Yuniar – SCMP

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