A young man who dropped out of school can become a teacher. How could it be? Rizal is a living proof.
Rizal Firmansyah was still in the first year in SMK Al Hamidiyah, Jakarta, when the economic condition of his family was experiencing a difficult time. Kusnadi (his father) worked in the workshop, while Meilinah (his mother) was a vegetable vendor in the market. At that time, the younger sibling continued his education in a private school in the area of West Jakarta. In his mind Rizal immediately imagined the large sum of money that needed to be provided his father. Rizal did not have the heart. Feeling responsible, as the eldest, he decided to quit school. “I have to give in to my brother. I’d feel really bad if he does not go to school,” he said.
He remembered the times when he finally had to help his father run a non-permanent workshop at the edge of Jalan Panjang, Kedoya, Jakarta. Not having a choice, Rizal worked from morning to night. He also began to harbor his dream of becoming a teacher. Almost every afternoon while working in the workshop, Rizal saw children of his age coming home from school with a cheerful face. “I felt both envious and sad. Why couldn’t I be like them,” Rizal questioned in a low tone.
By learning how to sew, we don’t only become tailors, but we can become entrepreneurs and designers.
However, the sense of responsibility surrounded him yet again, so he did not linger over self-pity. He remained working diligently while continuing to seek information about schools at affordable costs. And one day the opportunity finally arrived. A neighbor gave him some information about Rumah Belajar (RB) in Duri Kepa managed by Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa (YCAB). Rizal was very happy to hear about Rumah Belajar.
Without delay, he immediately went to Rumah Belajar Duri Kepa. “I did some tests on some subjects, and the result suggested that I should enroll into grade 3,” said Rizal. “I wondered too, because I dropped out of grade 1. Was it because I was 17 years old?” He added with a smile. Rumah Belajar was not a public school, but Rizal was still grateful, because the cost was very affordable. He felt lucky, for paying so little, he could go to a school with complete facilities. The lecturers also always motivate students to move forward. Mr. Anton was one of his favorite teachers. Thanks to the encouragement of the teachers, besides attending school, Rizal also attended computer training, English, and sewing.
Teaching has become my calling. Teaching also helps me stay young.
He didn’t take his interest in sewing so seriously. “Because a lot of friends participated, I also wanted to learn,” he said. Apparently, it gave him new insights. Sewing lessons started from making bag designs. And that’s when Rizal found a new interest. The sewing class opened the door to the design world that he loved. Rizal liked to try to make bags as he wished. Eventually he was accepting special orders. “I could earn some money while studying, so I was not burdening my parents,” he said proudly.
Provision for Work
After graduating Package C in Rumah Belajar in 2011, Rizal helped his friend open a sewing business. He became a business partner of the friend who got a capital loan from YCAB. But, after joining for eight months, Rizal opted out, because he had not found his true identity. He then worked in a manufacturing company located in Cipadu, Tangerang.
According to the agreement, Rizal was hired as a sewing machine operator to make bags. But in reality, the work he did was not just that. “I was doing so many things. From working on designs, cutting materials, gluing, drawing on materials, and sewing until finally one bag was made,” said Rizal. Although he was not too happy, but he survived three years in the garment manufacturing company, because he didn’t have any other offers then.
Fortunately, God’s plan always happens at the right time. When he was feeling overwhelmed with manufacturing work, Rizal was informed about a D1 college scholarship from YCAB. Rushing, he visited Rumah Belajar, with the intention to find complete information about the scholarship. In Rumah Belajar, he saw his former teacher, Purwanto. Instead of inquiring more about the scholarship, Purwanto offered Rizal to be an assistant in Rumah Jahit. “I replaced Pak Purwanto as a trainer in Rumah Jahit because he was transferred to Pekalongan to manage Rumah Batik,” Rizal said. He was touched. How could he not? In the past, many years ago, Rizal had aspired to become a teacher. Dreams that he had buried because he thought that it was impossible to become a teacher without a degree in education. But now, it turns out, he can teach, even without a college degree.
Calling in Life
Rizal began as a sewing trainer in 2014. He does not only teach YCAB students, but also teaches general students. In Rumah Belajar, sewing materials and equipment are available for free. After being a lecturer for two years, Rizal expresses concerns, seeing many students who feel too proud to learn how to sew. “They think, by studying in Rumah Jahit, the opportunities that they will have later is just working as a tailor. When all the while they can become entrepreneurs. They can also become designers. It’s our job to explain,” Rizal declared.
Until now, Rizal still enjoys being a teacher. “Teaching has become a calling. Teaching can also keep me young,” he said. Once, he taught a male student who attended a private vocational school majoring in automotive. Rizal succeeded in encouraging him to learn how to sew. In fact, he even opened his own business.
Don’t feel too proud to learn how to sew.
From his income as a teacher, Rizal prioritizes his hard work to help his parents. Furthermore, he can still save up some money. And until now, he still receives special orders to make bags, including from the owner of the manufacturing company where he once worked. As a result, his income also doubled. However, Rizal does not seem to want to stop. “I want to learn to draw anime. I’ve seen drawing courses for it on the Internet, but it’s expensive. So I had to postpone it,” he closed the conversation.