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Emerging from Poverty: A Family in Indonesia Transformed their Lives

Wulan, who came from an impoverished family had no other wish except to find a job and help support her family after graduating from a vocational high school. Through Tzu Chi’s bursary programme, she was able to further her studies in a nursing college and became a nurse.

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Wulan Permatasari is very thankful to have the opportunity to connect with Tzu Chi, which allowed her to become a nurse who can help support her family (Photo by Hadi Pranoto)

Wulan Permatasari, a student aid beneficiary of Tzu Chi Indonesia, got connected with the Foundation through the latter’s housing aid project for the needy.

Coming from an impoverished family that could hardly make ends meet, Wulan had no other wish except to find a job and help support her family after graduating from a vocational high school. Never would she have thought that through Tzu Chi’s bursary programme, she was able to further her studies in a nursing college in Jakarta and became a professional nurse.

 Wulan, who came from the Pademangan district of Jakarta, Indonesia, used to live in a dilapidated house with her family. The roof of the house had a lot of holes and the floor was always wet. It did not have a working bathroom, too. Moreover, as the height of the roof was very low, the whole family had to bend their backs while indoors, which was really inconvenient. Thus, they got connected with Tzu Chi, and became the beneficiaries of the Foundation’s housing aid project.

At the same time, Tzu Chi volunteers provided continued care and support to the aid beneficiaries, and also assessed their needs to help improve their lives.

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Sriyani, who became a beneficiary of Tzu Chi’s housing aid project in 2008, decided to join the ranks of Tzu Chi volunteers, with the hope of helping others in need. (Photo credit: Tzu Chi documenting team)

Overcoming difficulties and setbacks through hard work

Initially, Wulan planned to start working after graduating from the vocational high school. She had prepared ten copies of resume and wanted to apply for a job then. However, Tzu Chi volunteers hoped that she could obtain a tertiary education, which would help her to transform her financial situation. Thus, they helped her apply for bursary from Tzu Chi, which allowed her to enter a nursing college in Jakarta for further studies.

However, as she had majored in management in the vocation high school, nursing was an entirely new subject to her. Thus, she had difficulties catching up with her studies in the first two semesters and could not meet the minimum academic requirements set by Tzu Chi for its student bursary beneficiaries. She nearly dropped out of the school as a result.

The reason why her academic results fell short of the requirements was not because she was a lax student. In fact, she had tried her best to study hard, often even studying late into the night, and she was never absent from school without reason. However, despite being a hardworking student, she still could not do well in her studies.

When the volunteers learned that she might lose her bursary as a result, they felt that she should have another chance and requested the Foundation not to stop giving her bursary. Wulan’s mother, Sriyani, did not want her daughter to give up her studies halfway too, and so, she encouraged her to work harder as the volunteers were trying their best to help her.

The Foundation eventually decided not to cease its aid to Wulan. Thus, she was very grateful and made an effort to move to a place nearer to her nursing college. Her family’s home was quite far from her school, so she had to travel long distances to and from the school. This made her very tired and wasted a lot of time that could have been spent on studying.

“I rented a room outside, and it happened that my flat mate was a very hardworking student, too. So we studied together every day after the morning prayers,” shared Wulan.

She did not disappoint everyone and eventually graduated from the college. She was very thankful to her Tzu Chi mentor for her continual encouragement and support. Having received a lot of help and support from many people around her, she had learned to count her blessings, and would also take the initiative to help others in need.

“My dad passed away when I was still in high school, so my mum took great pains to bring up three children. Now, I’m receiving a salary every month working as a nurse and am finally able to help my mother share the family’s financial burden,” said Wulan.

“Wulan is a very hardworking girl. She would bring the snacks I made at home to her school and sell. She did that while in college, too,” shared her mother, Sriyani.

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Before she started receiving Tzu Chi’s aid, Wulan’s mother, Sriyani (middle), made nasi lemak to sell and washed clothes to earn a meagre living to support her family. (Photo by Anand Yahya)

Serving as volunteers to sow seeds of blessings

Wulan’s two younger brothers, Deni Kurniawan and Tegar, also received bursaries from Tzu Chi. Hence, she felt that her whole family was very blessed. Apart from material aid, the volunteers’ care and love gave them a lot of strength to move forward in life.

Since after Sriyani became a beneficiary of Tzu Chi’s housing aid project, she started joining the ranks of Tzu Chi volunteers.

“Whenever I volunteered with Tzu Chi, I would bring along my kids and let them join me, so they realised that there were many people who led harder lives than them. It’s only when they witness the suffering of others, that they are able to count their blessings and sow more blessings,” shared Sriyani.

 At the end of 2018, Sriyani received her volunteer certification in Hualien, Taiwan, and personally met and spoke with Dharma Master Cheng Yen (Tzu Chi’s founder). This further strengthened her resolve to walk on Tzu Chi Path.

She said, “I am a beneficiary of Tzu Chi’s housing aid project, and my three children are also recipients of Tzu Chi’s bursaries. I can never repay Tzu Chi enough. I can only give of myself by serving as a volunteer. I thank Master Cheng Yen for establishing Tzu Chi. Because of Tzu Chi, I am able to become what I am today.”

* This article was originally written in Bahasa Indonesia by Hadi Pranoto and translated into Chinese on Tzu Chi Taiwan’s website

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