Hello, my name is Miftakhul Janah, better known as Mifta. In the middle of 2021, I just graduated from SMA Negeri 20 Jakarta. Since I was a child, I lived under the bridge in Kampung Melayu. It’s not just my family who live under the bridge, many more live there. I really like living under the bridge because the people who live there are friendly. I have many friends. But when I was in 6th grade, we were evicted by Satpol PP (The Civil Service Police Unit). When I heard the news, I was very sad and cried with my friends. The place where I grew up and went through all sorts of things has been destroyed. There are a lot of memories left under the bridge. But I can’t continue to be drowned in sadness. Until finally my parents find a rented place to live. Even though the homes under the bridge have been evicted, there are some people who still live there to work, including my family. Most of the people who used to live under the bridge worked as scavengers.
Actually, the people under the bridge and I are used to being visited by organizations or communities that want to provide assistance to us. Usually, they hold learning activities with the children, drawing, or storytelling by bringing various gifts. The month of Ramadan is a moment when organizations invite people under the bridge for Iftar together. I feel happy when I get help from all of these people. However, sometimes I feel uncomfortable when they take pictures of me without permission. Even though I got help from them, I also have the right not to want to be photographed. Not all organizations come to take photos without permission, there are still many organizations that have permission in advance for documentation, and I am grateful for that.
The start of my meeting with Rumah Faye was around June 2018. At that time, there was a person who came under the bridge with a community for Iftar together. After the event, this person chatted with my mother and wanted to connect the underprivileged children with an organization called Rumah Faye. They plan to hold an Iftar event at the Jakarta office. My friends and I are very happy because we can meet new friends of the same age. Rumah Faye’s office was in a large and tall building. When I entered, I wanted to have work experience in such a good office. I also have a dream to be able to share with people in need, just like what the staff and volunteers of Rumah Faye have done. Before starting the event, all children were invited to draw first. After that, we played games. At that time, the atmosphere was very hectic because everyone was scrambling to answer the questions to get prizes. It feels so good to be able to play that excitedly! It’s really nice to see everyone laugh out loud.
A few weeks later, staff from Rumah Faye came back under the bridge with the Drawing Class Community, the founders of which were Kak Galih and Kak Teddy. All the other children and I were taught to draw wayang, and the wayang is right in front of our eyes. At first, it was really difficult, because I never drew objects directly. It’s stressful but fun! Not only drawing but I was also given knowledge about how to take care of myself in any situation. Which parts of the body can be touched and should not be touched by others. After the event, the staff from Rumah Faye chatted with the parents. They ask what necessities are needed by the children under the bridge. Later, there would be opportunities for some children to get educational scholarships.
Not long after that activity I was contacted by Rumah Faye that I was one of the children who received an educational scholarship! Before I got help, I rarely went to school for economic reasons. Sometimes I have to alternate with my sister to go to school because the cost to go home is not enough. I am very grateful because there has been a big change since I got this transportation fee assistance. So I can continue to go to school. Besides that, I also received help with school equipment such as books, stationery, and uniforms. Oh, and I was also accompanied by a volunteer from Rumah Faye, namely Kak Kirsten Natalia Saragih, who is usually called Kak Iten. This volunteer helped me to be more focused on lessons, always control the grades of the lesson, encouraged me to try enrolling in college, and gave challenges and rewards. For about 3 years I became a recipient of an educational scholarship from Rumah Faye and was accompanied by Kak Iten.
At first, I was really awkward with Kak Iten, but over time it turned out that Kak Iten was really fun to be with! Yes, even though she is strict about lessons, she is always attentive. Every time there is a report card distribution, Kak Iten goes to school with my mother. When I came home, I was always invited to go to the mall and buy a lot of food. I already consider Kak Iten as my mother too. Until now, I still have a good relationship with Kak Iten. She always said, “Keep going Miftah! Don’t forget to pray, ask your parents for prayers, and watch out if you are stubborn.” I’m very grateful to have met and known Kak Iten.
At the end of 2018, I participated in the Drawing Workshop activity, a collaboration between Rumah Faye and the Drawing Class Community. There were 10 children who participated. When I joined the workshop, I was invited to draw in different places and was accompanied by volunteers from Rumah Faye and the Drawing Class. The first workshop was held under the Kampung Melayu bridge. Then there were also workshops at Kak Galih’s house, at the Ancol restaurant area, at the Rumah Faye office, and at Shirokuma. I learned many things from this drawing workshop. I learned drawing techniques, gradient colors, good coloring techniques, and how to draw objects that are in front of our eyes. I met a lot of new people and had the opportunity to meet a Puteri Indonesia, her name was Dea Rizkita.
In December 2018, Rumah Faye invited children from under the bridge and from other communities to go to the Safari Park. I’m very excited to be invited for an outing because I’ve never been to a Safari Park! The staff and volunteers also accompanied us. After a long journey, we finally arrived at Safari Park. I saw shows, saw the animals, and took the bus to see the pandas. The journey to see the pandas is very scary because the road is winding. It felt very tiring because the journey home was far, but the tiredness was gone because of the feeling of happiness.
After committing to participate in 10 meetings of the Drawing Workshop, the children under the Kampung Melayu bridge and I held a drawing exhibition at Plaza Indonesia. The exhibition was held from 16-23 February 2019 with the theme ‘Our Crayons, Our Works’. I was very proud when I saw the work of mine and 9 other children on display and seen by many people. It started with the introduction of the children who took part in the workshop. During our introductions, we were told to come up to the stage, seen by many people, and covered by several media. I was very nervous when answering questions. This exhibition lasts for more than a week and of course, our works continue to be displayed in the mall. I was really surprised when at the end of the exhibition, we got news from our brothers and sisters that all of our paintings were sold out! Then, 100% of the sales proceeds are given to the 10 participating children. The rewards we get are not in the form of money but are spent in the form of school supplies. Such as shoes, uniforms, books, bags, and other equipment. This is an experience that I can never forget. We were given the opportunity to learn new things and were appreciated by so many people.
Three months after my drawing experience was over, Rumah Faye contacted my mother to offer Cooking Class activities to the children in the Kampung Melayu area. The children under the bridge are represented by me and my sister. Unfortunately, due to the limited number of participants, not many children could be involved. My own parents were very supportive of joining the Cooking Class. In this class, I met 8 new friends from various other regions. I learned to cook various kinds of cakes from our mentor, Chef Charins Chang. In each meeting, we were always divided into groups with different people. At the beginning of the meeting, I was in a group with my sister. My sister and I have never cooked with an electric stove, oven, or mixer. I was very stiff when using the tool. The first cake we made was soft cookies. Our cake was the worst among the other groups, hahaha. In other classes, we tried to make brownies, tiramisu, risoles, klepon, and fruit tarts. The cooking class was supposed to be held for up to 10 meetings, but because of the pandemic in early 2020, the cooking class had to be stopped at the 8th meeting. The fruit tart was the last meal I made.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt very bored because I had to study from home. There are many obstacles to face. I also can’t participate in activities with Rumah Faye and can’t play with my friends. Since I studied at home, the scholarship I got from Rumah Faye has turned into an internet package for school. Back in the 1st grade of high school, Kak Iten encouraged me to apply for a scholarship from Ruangguru. After going through several selections, I passed! I’m very grateful because since I got the Ruangguru scholarship, my grades have changed for the better. In the 2nd grade of high school, I was invited to shoot with Dream Studio. From the Dream Studio, I got a laptop and my parents got a bicycle and materials for the coffee business.
A year later, I graduated from high school. When I just graduated, I tried to enroll in college. There was lots of support from Rumah Faye’s staff and volunteers. I tried to join SNMPTN and SBMPTN. But fate wasn’t on my side, I wasn’t accepted at the university I dreamed of. My and my family’s wishes have not been achieved in 2021. But that’s okay, there’s still a long way to go. Everyone has a different storyline. I tried to find a job. Not long after, I worked in a bag shop, but it only lasted 1 week. Before working at the bag shop, I tried to contact Kak Iten to ask about job vacancies at Rumah Faye. After a few weeks, I stopped working at a bag shop, and Alhamdulillah the next day staff from Rumah Faye, Kak Mellysa Anastasya, together with Kak Iten came to my house offering an internship opportunity.
I started as an Intern at Rumah Faye in June 2021. It turned out that my wish in 2018 during Ramadan, to be able to work in an office building, was achieved! I learned to work with the staff in the office, 3x a week, from 09.00 to 15.00 (with lunch break). In addition to knowledge and experience, I get daily money, transportation money, and internet replacement money for work from home. At the beginning of the internship, I only had time to work in the office for about 2 weeks. The significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases required me and the staff to work from home. There were many obstacles when I worked from home. I have to alternate using laptops with my sister to do her schoolwork. I also had to help with my mom’s business. So my work time was very messy, and my work sometimes got stuck. In August 2021, my internship period ended. I’ve tried applying for jobs in various places. I entered the interview stage at one of the jobs I applied for. However, I didn’t pass. I’m just a high school graduate, so I’m having a hard time getting a job. I also had a chance to apply for a scholarship to study at Pertamina University which was recommended by one of the staff of Rumah Faye, namely Mbak Retno Agustin, but I failed as well.
Towards the end of August, Kak Tasya offered to extend my internship at Rumah Faye until December 2021. I am very grateful that I still have the opportunity to learn to work again. I gladly accept Kak Tasya’s offer. During my internship at Rumah Faye, I learned many things from Kak Tasya, Kak Retno, and Kak Imam. At first, I didn’t understand about laptops, but I slowly understood how to use a laptop. I was shy at first but slowly learned to be brave. I continue to learn about child protection and its relation to trafficking, violence, and exploitation from Rumah Faye. I also had the opportunity to take part in Online Classes from RUKI (Facebook Indonesia) and many other webinars to increase my knowledge and improve my skills.
In my opinion, there were three most memorable experiences when I was an intern at Rumah. First, in June 2021, I participated in distributing COVID-19 Help Kit donations from PERMIAS UC Davis and sandwich donations from Salad Point ID to children at the Street Children Alternative School (SAAJA). I helped out as MC for the event. In the past, I was only the beneficiary, but now I can take an active role in sharing happiness with the children at SAAJA. Second, in July 2021, during National Children’s Day Celebration, I became the judge of the Drawing & Video Contest as well as the admin who took care of all the administration and registration of the contestants. Third, from November 15 2021 to December 17 2021, during the commemoration of the Day of Anti-Violence Against Women and Children, I participated as a judge in the Drawing Competition. Of course, there were many other work lessons that I learned during my internship at Rumah Faye.
During the six months I joined Rumah Faye, I became even more impressed with the organization’s work program. It has a very noble goal, namely to protect Indonesian children from trafficking, violence, and exploitation. Rumah Faye provides a lot of new experiences and very useful lessons. To all the members of Rumah Faye, you guys are amazing. You have made a big change for the people around you, including me. Thank you for helping so many people. May you always be healthy and surrounded by good people. After this, I will continue to try to work in other places. Actually, I’m afraid of the future, but life still goes on. I have a lot to pursue and I’m happy. I just want to say for those of you who are just growing up, never be afraid to fail. Because failure is not the end of everything, in fact, failure is the beginning of success. Everyone has a different storyline. Don’t be afraid to dream. Always stay healthy everyone. Thank you for reading my experience until the end!
Writer: Miftakhul Janah
Editor: Mellysa Anastasya
Translator: Ayunda Damai Fatmarani
Go, Go Miftah !!!! Proud of you !
Keren banget Mifta 😍