To speak of poverty is to speak of something very close and very personal to me. According to what I have learned from various readings, poverty is a condition in which a person is unable to meet basic needs such as food, education, health and housing. In each standard area, basic needs may vary, so poverty indicators in each region may vary. In Indonesia alone, the basic needs in terms of food are generally understood as the need to eat three times a day with a healthy food composition. While in terms of education, the basic measure is the ability to complete college education (9 years of compulsory education). While in terms of health and shelter, it is the ability to finance hospital care when one is sick and the ability to have a decent and humane place to live.
There are several factors behind poverty, including lack of ability to work and compete in the world of work, lack of capital to start a business, and limited job opportunities. These factors add to the character traits that are unfavorable for a person’s progress, such as being lazy, reluctant to follow the process, and reluctant to move forward. Indeed, there are also other factors that are incidental, such as disasters or disasters.
All of the above shows that poverty is something that should be avoided. However, the reality is that few people can escape poverty. Even according to the information I read, the world’s population with an annual income of less than US $ 935 (US $ 8,415,000 at the rate of US $ 1 = Rp. 9,000) reaches 37% of the world’s population.
For me personally, as already mentioned above, poverty is something very close to my life. I lived two more years in Jombor, Sleman, Yogyakarta Crossroads with the street children community. During my life there, I witnessed my own inability to meet the needs for food, education, health and housing. Every day I testify and I live with my friends street children, we have to fight to earn money in order to buy food. Being able to eat three meals a day with a healthy menu mix is a luxury for us.
All the street children who were with me in Jombor also dropped out of school. Me and most of my friend’s street children dropped out of school because of the family’s economic incapacity. Inadequate parental income forces us to leave school, or even to bury the dream of a better future. To satisfy everyday needs, with a fancy bottle, nails and wood arranged as a simple musical instrument, with the warmth of the sun or rain, we strive to meet our basic needs. Every day that becomes our anxiety is to eat, drink and get dressed. Many of my friends do not even have decent clothes to wear. They are ragged, dirty and shabby.
This essay should talk about my opinion of poverty and what I can do to overcome it, but I can not forget the days when I was with my street friends in Jombor. We had to fight the heat and the rain, but we were always ready to make money. Many of my friends do not think about his state of health. Because it’s hard to find enough money to eat enough in a day, many of my friends spend their money just to smoke, but smoking without enough food will definitely damage their bodies. When the rainy season comes, we are often confused to find shelter. At most we will take shelter in any place such as in front of the shop, in front of the people’s house or under the bridge. Although many of my friends still enjoy their lives.
Most of them are no longer willing to go back to school. They reasoned that there are still many obstacles they face. In fact, if I am asked what can be done to lift them out of poverty, my most important answer is education. I can answer that because that’s what I experienced myself. My life in the streets ended when a street children’s agency launched a mentorship program for street children in Jombor. This institution attracts me because what they do is not much.
They come only two or three weeks and come to chat with us. After we became familiar, they talked about our chances of escaping our poor street child, and the opportunity they were talking about was to go back to school.
Thanks to this program, I finally returned to school after another two years living on the street. I went back to grade 5 and now I am in grade 8 at college. After my return to school, I can continue to realize my dreams. Education was the most realistic way for me to change my life and escape the poverty of chains while I was on the street.
If I remember first of my life in the street and remember my friends who are still in the streets, sometimes I cry. Few of my friends plan to return to school, although the brothers at Dream House (the institution I mentioned earlier, www.thedreamhouse.org) continue to accompany and encourage. Most of my friends are still in doubt. There are still things they are afraid of, as if they chose to go back to school if they had free time like when they are on the road. They hesitate and still hesitate to let life in the streets, which is really the poverty that binds them.
Sometimes, when the holidays I still take the time to visit my friends on the streets. I also invite them to think about their future, even if sometimes they always consider my speech or story that I share with them only the wind that passes in my ears. But that’s what I have to continually show to them. I want one day they will also be aware and will do something to escape their poverty. I will continue to try, because at least that’s what I can do to overcome the poverty that is before my eyes.
* The former street children, joined by Hope Shelter since 2009, This article was written for Young Leaders Camp YCS Indonesia 2012.