Mardiah & Ari: A story of strong-willed mother & son

“I have four children and I am determined that they all go to college. But we don’t have the money.”

Mardiah is a 53-year-old mother who used to wake up every morning and ride an old motorcycle down every alley in her neighbourhood to sell her own homemade food and snacks. It was quite tiring work, but as the breadwinner of the family, she did it earnestly.  

Knowing his mother was struggling to earn a living, Dwi Ari, Mardiah’s second child, helped to sell the food and snacks to his friends at school. Ari was still in junior high school when he first helped his mother, a time when he should have focused only on his education. He used a small portion of his profit for his allowance and gave the rest to her mother. 

“Obviously my mother was a bit reluctant to accept the money at first. But then she understood that my intention was pure. Besides, she needed the money,” said Ari.

Even with her son’s help, the money they earned was barely sufficient to support the family’s daily needs, let alone the education fund of the four children. But as a strong-willed mother, Mardiah always tells her children – and herself – to never give up however hard the situation gets.

Fortunately, about nine years ago, a friend told Mardiah about the YCAB Ultra-Microfinance program. She then applied for a loan which she later used to grow her small business. Thanks to the loan, she no longer needs to walk around and sell her home-made food. She now has three re-sellers who help her market her product. She also managed to earn three times more profit than she used to.

“It was actually Ari’s idea for me not to ride around to sell the food. I think it’s wise, as I am not getting any younger,” said Mardiah.

Mardiah’s relationship with YCAB continued when Ari joined Paket C – a high school equivalency program held by YCAB Foundation – for three years. In addition to that, Ari also took English and computer courses, which he considered as two essential skills required for work.

“My favourite subject was sociology. But I have to say the most precious experience was performing with my vocal group in almost every YCAB’s event where I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of kind-hearted and inspirational people,” said Ari. “It gave me hope to go beyond the limit.”

Ari is currently working at PT Aplikasi Karya Anak Bangsa or Gojek, a well-known multi-service technology platform based in Jakarta. He started off his career as a customer service and now he is a person in charge of a division. “My salary is now, thankfully, above the minimum wage. Now I can help my parents even more and still have some for my own saving,” said Ari.