My Journey at Mama Sayang

Since I was child I wanted to be successful and help my parents with their lives. I wanted to make them happy. I knew how hard we lived. My dad worked at the church until now, so did my mother. We lived in a small house. Living in simplicity makes us thankful for what we get everyday. My Parents told me that we must study hard and work hard to be able to change our lives. I always remember these words in my heart.

Before I went to Elementary School, my mother taught me writing, reading, and counting. She did it because we didn’t have enough money to put  me into Kindergarten. And then, when I was five years old, I could go to Elementary school, even though I wasn’t old enough to attend school. The rule was children could attend school when they were 6 years old. So, I had to prove to the examiner that I deserved to go to school. Finally, I could go to that school.

I did everything the best I could at school and didn’t complain about no textbooks. I had to borrow some textbooks from my friends and write it down in my books. So, I could learn from that. I did what I could do to make my parents happy.

Suddenly, in the beginning of year 6, my parents declared that they were struggling to pay for schooling. Plus at the end of year 6, I had to take a national exam that cost a lot to my parents. And then, they heard about Mama Sayang Orphanage and asked if I could go there. Finally, after a discussion, I went to the orphanage on the 1st August, 2004.

When I came to the orphanage, I was 10 years old. I felt everything was difficult. New environment, different people, different characters were all unfamiliar to me. I didn’t know who they were, what they expected from me, and what I had to do.  I had to build new friendship and confidence. I had to be independent. And at that time, we only had one dormitory for the boys and girls.

Everyone in Mama Sayang has a task to do such as wash the clothes, clean the room, water the plants, wash the plates, sweep the floor, prepare the materials that we want to cook, take care of our garden, etc. The scheduled can be changed, so, every child can learn from different tasks. But, there are some things we have to do by ourselves, such as make our bedrooms tidy. We learn to be responsible for what we do. And beside that, we make cakes and jewellery, take care the small children and decorate our house. We play sports, and practise some songs. We do it when we have a spare time or in the holiday. If we have a big holiday, sometimes we go to some places for recreation, such as beach, national parks, etc.

Everything for us could happen because of God’s mercy through the sponsors and donations. Now, we have two dormitories, boys and girls. We have a school called Saint Enoch from playground till high school. We have a health clinic that serves the people around us. We have a language lab for the children to learn English and Mandarin. We are very thankful for what the sponsors have given us. We live by faith.

The ups and downs we’ve faced together. And gradually through Mama Sayang and my friends, I changed. At first I couldn’t believe that I could stay at Mama Sayang for 7 years. But with patience I went through it all. Mama Sayang taught me many things about life. I learned to take care of myself and others, to respect, to share, to be honest, to support, to obey, and always show forgiveness. It guided me to solve any problem. It shaped me into a formidable person. It gave me the vision and ideals that I hadn’t thought of before. It taught me to always grab an opportunity and not waste it. Mama Sayang made me think about the future and achieve my dreams and develop the skills I have. Mama Sayang is my big big family.

Now, I’ve finished my school and I got a scholarship to go to Australia to study for a year. Because of God’s Mercy, through Mama Sayang, Des and Sandy, Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation (PHMF) and Rotary Club of Glen Innes I could go to Australia as an exchange student. It reminded me with one of the American President’s statement I liked about “Don’t say what the country can do for you, but say what you can do for your country”. Here, I go. This is the small thing I could do for my country, to be a young ambassador for Indonesia. As the first exchange student from Indonesia after “The Ten years Tension” between Indonesia - Australia, I want to do the best for my country. So, the other exchange students from Indonesia can go to Australia as in exchange program.

This is a great experience for me. I could learn about the Australian culture, I could introduce Indonesian Culture, I could teach my friends some of Indonesian language, I have lots of fun, and improve my English too. From the host families that I have had, I learned so many things about Australian Culture, such as travelling, shearing, lamb marking, camp draft, farming, water activities (water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, tubing, knee boarding), fashion, sports (common sports such as: Rugby Union, cricket, and soccer), charity, and respect for the slightest increase in person.

Australians are not very formal so greetings are casual and relaxed. Everyone who meets me will say, “G’day” or “G’day, mate!”.  The Aussies prefer to be called by their first names. In their speech, there is often an element of humour. The other culture of Australians is they place a high value on relationships. It is important to get along with everyone, since you never know when your paths may cross again. If they want to meet someone you have to make appointment. It necessary to schedule. It is better for to arrive a few minutes early than keep someone waiting. They like to arrive on time; no more than 15 minutes late.

How about Australian education? They’re only having 1 HSC and 1 school certificate. In the high school the students can choose 6-8 subjects to do. The students go to different classrooms for each subject.

How about the food?? Most of Australian do not like hot food. But, they are very famous with their classical food, such as fish and chips, and vegemite.

Lots of things are different. In Indonesia, greetings can be rather formal as they are meant to show respect. Many Indonesians may give a slight bow or place their hands on their heart after shaking your hand. Hierarchical relationships are respected.

For education in Indonesia, we have 3 national exams, Elementary school, year 9 and year 12. And in the senior high school, we may have 14-18 subjects to do. The teacher will come to the class.

How about Indonesian food??? Most Indonesians like hot foods which make us sweat.

That’s a bit of a comparison I’ve got. There are a lot. But, this is my desire, I want to succeed for my self, but also my family. I want to help my brothers and sisters go to school like I did. After I finish the exchange, I want to go to university and be a Civil Engineer. I want to work in a company and develop my skills. I have a plan to buy my parents a small house and a car to help them with their ministry. I want to make everyone of them happy.

“Everything is in God’s will. A million possibilities could happen from the small thing you can do today.”

Ester was the first Rotary Exchange student for 10 years to come to Australia. She spent 11 months in high school at Glen Innes from August 2011 until June 2012. The photo above shows Ester with Desmond and Sandy who spent a month at Mama Sayang. She is now studying Civil Engineering at Universitas Pelita Harapan in Jakarta.

The Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation & Priscilla's home town Rotary Club of Glen Innes held annual Bridge card days for 3 years to raise A$7000 for funding Ester's visit to Glen Innes.