Kemal still has two dreams: to continue his education for a master’s degree and take his parents to go to the holy land of Mecca.
His tone of voice was firm, a friendly smile and cheerful laughter were features that were clearly shown on the tall bespectacled man. Kemal, the man who loves to joke, works as a marketing staff at PT Asuransi Tokio Marine (PT ATM). Initially, Kemal joined PT ATM as an intern. However, luck was on his side and he became a full-time employee. The winding road was a must-go, for the man born in Jakarta on October 14, 1989. To get to where he is now.
A new chapter in Kemal’s life began when Guning Lubis (father) got sick. Kemal was still in high school. “My father was sick for about six months, and then passed away,” Kemal recalled the 2004 event. “Family finances were immediately disturbed. So far, we only relied on the income of my father who owned a workshop and car tire business,” he continued.
In order to continue to finance Kemal’s school, the elder sister tried to replace his father’s role. “But, because my sister’s earning was not enough, my mother decided to go to work. She started sewing, receiving orders from neighbors. My mother was already 63 years old. I couldn’t bear to see it,” Kemal narrated. “I told my mom, I’d better quit school. I would work for her to rest. Originally the mother did not agree, but I insisted,” said the youngest of seven siblings.
Without special skills and sufficient education, Kemal tried to do anything he could get his hands on. He started off by being a motorcycle washerman in his friend’s father’s company. He lasted for six months at the job that was giving him an income of about Rp20.000 per day. “I’m the only boy in the family so I had to take responsibility for my mother,” he added.
Despite having to work, the desire to continue school never ceased. That was why, when Kemal found out about Rumah Belajar (RB) Duri Kepa, he was very enthusiastic. “Because my determination to go back to school was very strong, I immediately went to RB and met Mrs. Dewi,” Kemal recalled. “It turned out I was the first generation and immediately entered the second grade. At that time, the students were only 12 people,” he added. ‘Finding’ Rumah Belajar really made Kemal happy. In addition to many courses, school hours in Rumah Belajar at that time were in the afternoon.
He could manage his time to juggle many things he had to do: delivering newspapers, washing motorcycles, as well as going to school and courses
“So, I could deliver the newspapers after the morning prayers until 8 o’clock. Then worked at the bike wash from 8 to 10am. Then, at 11 to 1 pm I went to take my courses. And finally, from 1 pm to 5 pm, I went to school,” said the husband of Noviyanti. No more time to relax, it was all about working and going to school. “Until I finally graduated in 2007, my time was really just about making ends meet and school. A friend was teasing me saying that I lost my youth. To me, it was no problem. My principle being, it was better to lose my youth than to lose the future,” he continued firmly.
Kemal tried to make the most out of the opportunity. Rumah Belajar provided a variety of courses. Without picking or choosing, Kemal attended all courses offered! Initially, he participated in sewing, English, and computer courses. “I also joined the acting course. It didn’t matter whether the knowledge is going to be useful or not in the future, I was happy to learn,” said Kemal.
He gained not only knowledge, it was when he took all the courses that Kemal found out about scholarships offered by PT ATM. “I was very enthusiastic and immediately intended to take the test. But, on the day, I felt insecure knowing about 60 other people who also applied for the scholarship. All of them looked very smart,” Kemal said. “The tests at that time were math, general knowledge, literature, and English. My score was really low in English, but high in math. Fortunately, I made it to the 10th place. Next, I was interviewed and got into the top 5. Then I got selected to the top 3 and finally announced to be eligible for the scholarship. It was really unexpected,” he recalled proudly. “I was surprised; my average score was only 7.8; while there were others who scored up to 9. After becoming an employee, I knew that I had succeeded because of my strong determination to move forward. Companies were looking for someone like that,” said the SMP Negeri 220 Jakarta alumnus. The scholarship from PT ATM was to study at Akademi Asuransi Indonesia, Universitas Indonesia (UI) for three years, starting in 2007.
While going to college, Kemal did an internship, so he was able to earn money. “Internship on Monday to Thursday, then school on Friday and Saturday,” Kemal explained. Going to college, was the one thing he most wanted. He was determined to work hard to get to college. This was triggered by the conditions he saw around him. “Friends who are high school graduates, become an office boy or cleaning service staff at most. Junior high graduates must be even worse. I do not want to end up like that,” he said. Officially enrolled in college, Kemal was very happy. One dream had come true. “It turned out my classmates were all scholarship beneficiaries. Their origins were diverse. Some were from Solo, Ambon, or Aceh. College was so much fun, I got to learn about economics and insurance. It also widened my insights,” Kemal explained.
Kemal graduated D3 on time, in three years, and he was ranked 3rd out of 38 students. “Once I had graduated in 2010, I sent out an application to the company, then took the test to become an employee, just like any other applicants. Fortunately, I was accepted,” Kemal said. “I am proud to work here, because this company is notoriously difficult. Our English must be good,” he continued. Already working and having a D3 diploma did not make Kemal complacent. He wanted to continue his education. Kemal then continued his bachelor’s degree at Sekolah Tinggi Manajemen Resiko Asuransi, until he graduated in 2014. But Kemal was still not satisfied. He is now eyeing on getting a master’s degree. “I’m looking for a scholarship to continue my education. Hopefully my dreams can come true,” he hoped.
Rumah Belajar Changes Lives
Seeing Kemal’s success, many neighbors are moved to continue their studies in Rumah Belajar. Kemal witnesses the great influence of Rumah Belajar in the society. Therefore, he and his friends want to imitate the footsteps of Veronica Colondam, the CEO/Founder of YCAB, to extend goodness to others. “Some friends and I routinely raise money for social causes. We also want to give out scholarships like Mrs. Veronica does, but now we are still unable to do it. Someday, we can,” he resolved.
Personally, Kemal admits that his life is better today than it was a few years ago. And because he is indebted to Rumah Belajar, Kemal never fails to say yes when he’s asked to share his experience’s. “I am grateful to Mrs. Veronica who never asked for any repayment at all. RB had brought me up. So, if I were asked to motivate, I would definitely come. It’s all I could give as a token of gratitude,” said Kemal.
While looking for a way to continue school, he was planning another dream. “I want to go to umroh with my mother and wife. For pilgrimage to Mecca, the waiting list is too long, and my mom is already so old,” he said. He then said that he had registered his mom to go to umroh a year ago.” At that time, I got a pretty good bonus. But my moms trip was cancelled off. Now I am saving up again, hoping to go, all the three of us,” he concluded.