Ni Luh Sri Mahayani (left) and her son, Gede Prema (right)
The woman used to take orders to make clothes. She started by looking for fabric, sewing it, and applying the trinkets until ready. She worked alone in her free time and made money from this work. However, her primary role is to work as a construction worker. She gave birth to ready-to-wear clothes from her ability to hold needles and thread on the table. Meanwhile, with her fellow workers, she was able to build a solid building. Her feet continued to walk in a tough life without caring about spilled cement or sand that had just been brought by a large truck.
Ni Luh Sri Mahayani (43) her name. Her youth is relatively spent time earning money. The habit started when she was ten years old. She got to know a man later in life and spent time together. They got closer before finally making a solemn promise, to decide to get married in 1995. Mahayani was no longer alone. She shared the story with her husband or vice versa while calculating how many necessities to buy for tomorrow.
They were still living in Denpasar then and had no plans to move. Gede Prema, their first and only child, was born in 2007. The costs have increased, but their efforts have not been extinguished. The plans are getting wider.
In 2014, Mahayani’s husband spent his savings to buy land in Les Village, Banjar Dinas Selonding. He built it slowly, starting from the wall, so there were two rooms, a separate bathroom, and a small area for motorcycles. Economically, this family’s life improved until 2018, before her husband died.
Prema, still in elementary school, does not fully recognize his father. As a teenager, he was provided with directions and stories of life experiences only from his mother. Dreams need to be as high as the sky, and the child turned them away when he was in the 8th grade of junior high school. He took off the white top, black pants, and hat of a ship’s captain in his future imagination. Suppose he is sailing the sea, of course leaving his family and home.
“Since my father died, I started to think about what work would do for me and my family. So I thought a job in a hotel could be a good job for me,” he said.
A skipper is no different from a hotel employee this time. The income will later be enough income for the family, said Prema. He emphasized later, “In my family, there are many who enter into hospitality as well, so that after a while, I have been affected.”
Bernando explained the family bucket as an aid in the post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery
The roads are not as good as in the city, the gravel jumps when a vehicle passes, and it takes a while to cross the river on an increasingly narrow road. That afternoon it just rained heavily. Fortunately, it started to subside as time headed to 16.25.
We visited Les Village, Tejakula District, Banjar Dinas Selonding, where Mahayani’s main house is now. She only really occupied it when Prema entered grade 10 in the middle of 2022. Mahayani sent her child to a vocational school as her child also hoped.
We hand over the Family Bucket. It contains valuable items, including Personel Protective Equipment (PPE), vegetables, herbs, and cleaning tools. Bernando Halauwet, as the Quality Control Officer, conveyed a good message regarding the assistance Mahayani received.
“Here is a school package for Prema. Considering that this assistance is still within the framework of the Covid-19 pandemic, each of these aids also has an information card regarding Covid-19, which contains all relevant information, such as prevention, prevention pathways, and how to take care of your family and yourself. All of that is fully contained here. You can read it later,” he explained.
From 7-9 March 2023, we will again distribute Family Bucket aid packages to 12 widow families in Bali with school-aged children. Each is located in one village in Karangasem (Les), ten villages in Buleleng (Pedawa), and one in Denpasar. This distribution is a collaboration from us with support from the Bali Foreign Investment Advisory Service (BFIAS) and the Bali Women’s Investment Community.
This family bucket is an aid in the post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery, which contains the basic needs of a family to live for one month. Distribution will continue through support from various parties to reach more families in the future.
“We from the foundation also help with gardening packages that we call Baby Dolls, short for besek, seeds, and dolomite. The seeds come from our assisted farmers. The seeds are organic vegetables with an expiration date of one year. Do you have land? The hope is to help Mrs. Mahayani with sustainable gardening in preparing their daily kitchen needs. Some seeds include local corn, spinach, red spinach, long beans, and green vegetables,” Bernando said.
Mahayani welcomed this help. She will use it not only for everyday purposes. She said she also wanted to realize her wish to start a cake-trading business. Prema is different. He likes anything related to his school needs. That eyes behind the glasses, sparkling. His mom says the child always enjoyed learning from 5 years ago without coercion. In just the first semester, Prema won the overall championship at his school, majoring in hospitality. He got a tuition-free scholarship for one semester.
The mother figure is the primary role model for Prema. But Jack Ma is also present as motivation. The life story of founding Alibaba inspires Prema in every learning process.
“I have an idol that I have liked since elementary school. He is Jack Ma and his Alibaba. I was amazed by him because he had nothing since he was small and poor. He initially had nothing, and learning until it becomes what it is now,” he said.
Reading material from lessons at school also needs a pause. Prema occasionally takes time to watch movies and listen to songs. He said the second one is more frequent; older songs are better to hear. He plays Guns N’ Roses songs or prefers Queen.
“Too much love will kill you
If you can’t make up your mind
Torn between the lover and the love you leave behind
You’re headed for disaster ’cause you never read the signs.”
It’s almost 17.30, and we’re about to say goodbye. Prema conveys a kind message at the end of the conversation. He said everything that lies ahead needs to be looked at and faced. “As long as we want to try to be more sincere and develop better, there will be a way to help us so we can be better than before,” concluded Prema.
Article & Photo: Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation