Hard Work, Creativity and Persistence Rewarded in One Indonesian Family, Who Inspire Us All

CWS Indonesia | August 20, 2018

Mada Selan with her yams and pumpkin sticks in her shop. Photo: CWS

Mada and Lazarus Selan and their two children live in Noemuke village on Timor island in far southeastern Indonesia. Like other families in their village, the Selansare farmers, laborers and micro-entrepreneurs who piece their livelihoods together in different ways depending on the farming seasons, which shape their lives.

Lazarus harvests corn and vegetables: corn to eat at home and vegetables to sell for profit; he collects tamarind in the forest, mostly to see for income, but also to enjoy at home. He also works as a wage laborer on government-funded infrastructure construction jobs. When he’s not harvesting vegetables and tamarind for sale or working construction, he drives his motorcycle taxi for supplemental income – especially during corn-planting season, when there is no income – only inputs. And, for all his hard work at so many jobs, Lazarus earns as little as $5 a week when he’s planting the corn and driving his moto-taxi or as much as $11 a week when he’s collecting and selling tamarind and driving his moto-taxi. Some weeks it’s $8, $9 or $10. But, at the end of the day, on average, that’s just a bit more than $1!

With two children to raise and send to school, a dollar a day is just not enough money, so Mada works too. Some time ago, she took a $17 government loan to start a home-based business making and selling fried bread. The loan is repaid and Mata nets about $5 each week now. Still, the family needed to do more to make ends meet. And, as so often happens, they had to take out high-interest private loans to do so.

Madawas eager to join a CWS-supported savings group, which she did as soon as she heard about Week of Compassion-funded Berdaya initiative back in September of 2017. She enthusiastically joined other women in her village in learning about better ways to manage household finances while also learning how to expand her small business. With new information and knowledge, and not at all afraid of hard work, Mada recently told CWS staff member that she “felt confident enough” to expand her food business, making and selling more snacks, and not just fried bread,from her home every day and at a nearby market once a week.

Since joining the Mawar savings group Mada has taken sequential loans of about $15 eight times and successfully repaid each loan at 10% interest. These loans helped Mada to expand her business step by step and she now makes pumpkin fries, fried bread cakes, fried bananas and fried corn with net profit of about $11 each week. So, combining their net incomes, the Selans now earn almost $3, on average, each day. This is good progress!

“I feel that since joining the Mawar group I have learned a lot of new things and I am now able to manage my income better. I can pay for my children’s school fees and I paid off loans from the loan shark! Also, once I have some more savings, I plan to put some in a bank account”. But first, Mada has a lot of ideas about improving her business even more, and she says she’s glad the Mawar group gives her a chance to get other women’s reactions to her business ideas, and their suggestions too.

In noting the progress Lazarus and Mada have made for themselves – he by incredibly hard work and persistence and she with creativity, equally hard work and a little help from some friends – one CWS observation is that the family can now buy household goods that are necessities … but that they used to consider luxuries.

(For more information please contact mkoeniger@cwsglobal.org )

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