This is Naomi’s story, told by Paulce Parrera. Paulce is, as our local student counselor, doing the home visits to find out more about the living conditions of our selected students and the motivation of the whole family to support them in their studies.
A Story of Hope
After 20 minutes of riding from Waikabubak, there was still another 15 minutes of walking, until I arrived at a very small kampung (village) with only two houses by the edge of the woods where Naomi’s grandpa and grandma are living. Raga Maru is 74, seemingly weak due to illness and he has been suffering for many years. Together with his wife, Soli Weru (70), they have been caring for Naomi and 3 of her siblings after the death of their parents, 16 years ago. Naomi is an orphan for so many years. Her elder brothers dropped out of school at the Primary level. Their grandpa is very poor, so they must work hard in their small piece of dryland paddy rice, cultivating other crops, digging brick-stone, and as paid workers for the richer families in the near kampungs.
Naomi has shown her commitment to continuing studying and trying to support her poor family. The Team Four (grandpa, grandma, two elder brothers) have done their best to support her until she finished secondary high school last month. “She is the first sister among four of us, so I had to work hard for family survival and supporting her studying. My grandpa and grandma are often sick, with their age, they can not really work for earning, so hand in hand as brothers and sisters, without Mama and Papa, we work for surviving in our very young age,” said Bili Lalu, Naomi’s oldest brother.
This family has to walk for around 2 km to the valley to get clean water. They usually take water twice a day, then it is 8 km walking per person for twenty-liters of water (4 five-litre jerrycans). They do not have electricity or access to a solar panel, only “lampu blek”, a lamp made of used can with petroleum. “Our daily diet is “nasi-jagung” (rice mixed with maize) only once a day. In the evening, we only take cassava or potato. We consume boiled vegetables every day, mostly cassava and papaya leaves, sometimes spinach,” Soli Weru explained. “Only when we come to a party in another kampong, then we eat pork or chicken,” Grandpa added.
This family has no motorbike for transport. The house has no toilet, which is still common in kampong all over Sumba.
“Terserah sudah Marapu,” (lit. It is up to Marapu) was Soli Weru’s last whisper to end the visit. This is the faith of this old-sicked woman in interpreting the blessing to their family, “if Naomi success, it will be a great help for us,” she continued using Loli dialect.