Pak Hassan, 35, has been working in YCAB for over 15 years now. He started as an office boy, and his job was solely to assist the employees: bringing them food, cleaning their workspace, and many more. After a while, he got promoted as a messenger, and then worked his way up again as an assistant to the secretary of the CEO.
“As of now, I am a student recruiter. My job is to go to slums and small villages and socialize with the community there, to look for potential children who could study in Rumah Belajar. I even joined the neighbourhood association events and spread information about Rumah Belajar’s programs.”
However, sadly many of these youths refuse to go to school, including his own cousin who left Rumah Belajar to work. A lot of them are pressured to start working in order to help their parents, or some even insist to work to avoid ending up like their parents.
“These students have the mind-set that going to school is worthless if they are just going to end up where they were before,” Pak Hassan said.
As he goes around the villages, he is able to see the situation these children and youths are in. He started telling me a story about 7-year-old child who worked as a scavenger.
“His mother’s legs were paralyzed, and his father had back problems.”
Fortunately, Pak Hassan was able to convince him to go to Rumah Belajar, where the child can be exposed to an adequate education and a healthy lifestyle. He was no longer scavenging for trash in the streets, but was instead scavenging for a better future in Rumah Belajar.
Pak Hassan knew that if these youths are kept outside of school, they will not just be uneducated, but they will also adopt an unhealthy lifestyle. This was something he experienced himself, as he used to be a heavy smoker, finishing three packs of cigarettes a day.
“After a year in YCAB, I quit smoking. I realized that we have to promote healthy lifestyle to these youths, and as a part of YCAB’s team, I had to change myself first to teach them.”