published in ChildrenLivelihoods / Small Business / New Skills on April 4, 2018

What kind of mother gives gravel as a Christmas gift for her children?

In Indonesia, widow Noriati will go to a creek near her village. She’ll bend over in the searing heat and pick up rocks from the water.

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Not for me, but for my children

“My husband died 11 years ago.

He had a bad stomach-ache – but I know now it was cholera.

We rented a motorcycle to take him from here to the hospital – but only five minutes after he arrived, he died. He was only sick that morning!

It was such a shock.

His death was so sudden. I was crying and crying and just feeling blank. 

After I got back from the hospital, many people came to give me support and care.

But my husband was the primary provider for our family. I was tired and I knew I faced a hard life.

I went to work for other people as a labourer, taking sand from the river and doing rock mining.

It’s hard work to collect the sand and rocks from the river, then carry them up to the place where we have to crush them and fill a box. I can earn only 240,000 IDR [$24] in one week.

I feel very sad, and while I am working I’m crying.

I must leave my son in the house when I have to go to work. Sometimes my son must even lay down in the yard, and I cannot take care of him.

Other times my children must come with me to the sand-mine. I feel sad because my children get sick many times.

I am very worried about the future of my children.

I do not want to keep working like this.

I have thought about a small business like a kiosk, but I’m worried about my skills. I never attended school in my whole life.

Whatever happens, I will focus on my family, and keep working so my children can get an education. I hope they will study until at least senior high. This is a promise I made to myself since my husband passed, and I sacrifice myself for them.

I dream that someday in the future they will have skills for something like a salon or a kiosk, so they can earn money, and not be picking up rocks.

I don’t ask you to help me, but pray you can help my children so they don’t have to face what I have suffered.”

Noriati

Photos: ALWS