During one Sunday morning, my friends invited me to join with the non-profit organization, YCAB to conduct a survey on their micro-finance clients. The place was a large slum, with hundreds of houses merely two meters from the train tracks. This slum area was in Rumah Susun Petamburan, a place near Grand Indonesia and other large high-class malls. Not knowing to the shoppers, just behind them were people who lived on les than $2, or around Rp. 18,000 a day.
I woke up early on Sunday morning, and was picked up by a few of my friends. After getting lost, we all went to a meeting building, which was quite close to the slum area. There we were briefed by YCAB supervisors and organizers, and were put into different groups. Each group was to go to a certain part of the slum and conduct the surveys there. In each group were around eight people, and each of them was partnered up. I was partnered with EB and one field supervisor. We then went to the slums and conducted our surveys. There was a wide range of different people, including old, young, working, unemployed, sick, and many others. The place was quite scary at first, as it was only two meters from open train tracks. Throughout the whole activity, probably more than twenty trains passed by. EB and I took turns asking questions and recording the results. In the end, we surveyed six homes, which consisted about three people per home. Most of the people in the slum area only went to junior school (SD), and were only getting paid minimum wage (Rp. 1.2 juta) per month, at the highest. Only one person we surveyed was being paid minimum wage. The rest earned way less, some not even earning money at all because they had no jobs.
Throughout this activity, I was able to learn a variety of different things, both new and old. I mainly learned that I have to be extremely grateful for what I have. In the slums, a family of five can live, eat, shower, and others in one 3 x 4 meter hut. My room is around 6 x 7 meters, maybe even more, and I am the only one occupying it. I was very touched that even though some of the people were sick and weren’t being treated, and living in terrible conditions, they still put on a beautiful smile, showing how happy they are living the life they’re living. In a day, one family living in the slums spends a maximum of Rp. 50,000. I can spend more than Rp. 150,000 a day on my own. This activity opened my eyes and changed me. It exposed me to the real Indonesia, which I haven’t known for the past 14 years of my life. I never thought about the poor that much, and never thought that they were living in such bad conditions. All I want to do is help them through more activities such as this, and pray for them.