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Samsudin's modest life and surviving on sweet potatoes, bananas

Samsudin's modest life and surviving on sweet potatoes, bananas

Members of the Indonesian Voluntary Society - Quick Response Action (MRI-ACT) of Central Sulawesi handed over a package of food aid and infant kids to Samsudin, one of poor families in Pantoloan, Palu City, on Monday (June 10, 2019). (ACT Sulteng)

A married couple, along with their five children, live below the poverty line in a dilapidated house in Pantoloan Village, Palu City, Central Sulawesi.

Following the earthquake, tsunami, and liquefaction on Friday, September 28, 2018, unemployment and poverty emerged as the two key problems in Palu City and the regencies of Sigi and Donggala.

Samsudin, 40, and Nurhayati, 32, are among those reeling under their impacts. Since the past six years, particularly after the disasters struck, they have led an impoverished existence, with bananas and sweet potatoes being the staple foods since they could not afford rice.

Samsudin and several family members live in a 6x4 meter house. When it rains, water seeps from the hollow roof of the house and also in the kitchen, only made of sago palm.

Speaking to the Central Sulawesi Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) team, Samsudin revealed that he only worked odd jobs, usually as a construction worker and collected stones in the river to be then sold to stone and sand collectors.

The man, born in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province, admitted to he and his family having to sometimes stay hungry, as he could not afford rice. Instead, their small family found satiety in sweet potatoes and bananas.

Despite the dismal condition of his family, Samsudin did not want to be on the receiving end of his adoptive parents' pity or assistance. He claimed to have sensed embarrassment if he received assistance, particularly from begging.

"Often we only eat sweet potatoes and bananas. My adoptive mama always offers us rice, but I do not take it. My principle is to pray a lot and be grateful, and I emphasize one, do not steal, whatever the conditions experienced, Samsudin stated when the MRI-ACT team in Central Sulawesi visited their home in Pantoloan on Monday.

MRI is an independent mass organization, universal and open to collaborating with several parties to safeguard the interests and rights of the people focused on developing a strong civil society.

MRI upholds human values to strengthen togetherness and build harmony in people's lives.

This organization comprises individual volunteers, who are committed and contribute to bringing about positive changes in their micro and macro environment, on the basis of voluntary principles as a form of social responsibility as individuals, citizens, and those of the world.

ACT was established on April 21, 2005, as a foundation engaged in the social and humanitarian fields. To expand work, ACT has developed activities, ranging from those related to emergency response to post-disaster recovery programs, community empowerment and development, and spiritual-based programs, such as Qurban and Zakat.

Samsudin confessed to rarely being able to provide nutritious food, such as meat, to his wife and children. If anything, he obtained it not from the results of his sweat, but from the benefactors during Eid al-Adha.

"You get to eat meat only once a year, even if it is given during a sacrificial holiday," Samsudin stated while smiling.

In conditions of extreme deprivation, Samsudin was determined to give his children the right to education. However, to fulfill it, he was compelled to entrust the responsibility of his first and second child to his family in Buol District, while the third child and four younger siblings lived with them in the uninhabitable house.

He said he could solely afford to bring up the third child, while the two siblings were forced to live with his family in Buol.

Samsudin then recalled his past, when he had first set foot on the land of Kaili, Central Sulawesi. The overseas worker did odd jobs, oftentimes as a construction worker and later a shopkeeper in Palu. During that time, he met Nurhayati.

The woman, who remains faithful as a life companion, is a convert. Samsudin then guided her to find provisions in the hereafter.

"My wife then converted to Islam before marrying me. We then lived together at the boarding house in Palu," he stated.

Despite living in Pantoloan for a long time, Samsudin apparently did not forget his relatives in his hometown. He also intends to return to meet them to ward off feelings of homesickness.

If later I have sufficient money, I will go home to the village to meet the family, he stated.

Samsudin was not desperate to slam in order to provide for his small family. He believes his hard work will one day bear fruits and usher in happiness.

"I continue to work hard, so that my wife's child can be happy even in simple conditions," he remarked.

Seeing his condition, the Indonesian Volunteer ACT Community of Central Sulawesi (MRI-ACT) immediately assessed and disbursed assistance in the form of food packages, mattresses, blankets, and several other forms of aid.

Sujud Sahwi, one of the members of the MRI-ACT, Central Sulawesi, remarked that after his party got information on social media, he and his colleagues immediately visited the house of the poor family.

He noted that they led a difficult life. Moreover, Samsudin's last or seventh child, who is just over a month old, is in dire need of supplies, including milk, diapers, and clothing, he revealed.

ACT's Branch Head, Central Sulawesi, Nurmarjani Loulembah, invited the community and benefactors to join hands to reduce the burden on Samsudin's family through prayers and donations.

Those keen on offering donations in the form of money and goods can visit the office at Jalan Mohamad Hatta Number 133, North Lolu Village, Palu City, he stated.