By Cynthia Price, director of communications
Wartini is a mother of four who says of her children: “I want them to be independent. I want them to always remember their family. I want them to be successful.”
These are reasonable hopes but when your family lives in one of the many slums in Jakarta, Indonesia, it might be easier to give up hope. The structure in which her family lives is not much bigger than the size of a living room in America. A dusty road littered with trash leads the way to her house. Up a narrow flight of stone stairs, a scrawny cat darts into a hole, before one stops and walks into the small home.
The front room has no furniture except for a wooden box on which a television sits. Even in the slums, television is not uncommon; it is a diversion. Stacked against the wall with the only window are 10 jugs of water. The rough plywood floor is worn but a freshly swept carpet atop the board is welcoming. It is the only place to sit – there are no couches. A vertical sheet of plywood separates the living area from the kitchen and sleeping area.
Wartini’s husband works what jobs he can. One day he is a laborer. The next he may clean the swimming pool of one of the luxury homes located only steps from the slums. Another day he is a driver.
Wartini also works. A few years ago, ChildFund provided her with money so she could operate a stall and sell daily goods. It was enough to provide for a few extras. She no longer needs money from ChildFund as she now operates her own water supply business. She buys water cooler sized jugs of water and sells them from her home. She sells each jug of water for 13,500 rhupias, which is about US$1.50.
When she is not selling water, Wartini is busy with the household. She cooks breakfast and prepares the children’s lunch boxes. Meals are traditional Indonesian fare: tempe, kerupa, rice and sambal. The family might eat meat once a month. She washes clothes and dishes. It’s a full day, but she does take Thursdays off, which she says is for social activities.
She has four children. Her oldest son, who is 21, is a laborer like his father as it’s the only work he can find. The second son attends senior high school. Her 7-year-old daughter Chika goes to school most days, but 4-year-old Andien does not because the Early Childhood Development Center is too far.
It’s a tough life, but Wartini is hopeful. “I cannot predict the future, but I want my children to have a better life.”