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From the time I was little, I had a dream that I would be a successful person. I saved my snack money to be able to go to school, and I got good grades and even got scholarships. But in the end, I didn’t have enough money to save for college, and so I went away and found work as a cook, then working at a department store, then at a factory.
I was able to go to the open university to study economics, but with the conflict, that stopped. I was really disappointed. After three years working, I came back home, and then the tsunami happened. Instead of using the money that I had saved for my own schooling, I told my younger sister, “You use this for your education. I don’t want you to lose your opportunity to study.” But because my parents were no longer giving attention to us, my younger sister decided to marry because she felt like she had no other options. So after that, I kept telling my other three siblings, “No matter what happens, you guys have to finish your education.”
There were a lot of NGOs right after the tsunami, so it was really easy to find work then. I worked for two or three years for the Concerned NGO, as a cook and then cleaning. At that point, it was difficult for them to find people who wanted to do custodial work. A lot of people were too proud or didn’t want to because there wasn’t any status to just be cleaning, but I said, “I don’t care, I am willing to do it.” I was willing to do whatever it took to help the economic situation of my family.
Eventually, I was recommended to come and work for a friend of Mr. Jason. But just to work for a couple hours a day was difficult, so Mr. Jason said, “Maybe you can add two more hours to help with processing the moringa?” Then we started learning about how to make the capsules. That made me start to really believe there was something valuable here. I really believed the business would grow over time.
The people working for the business go everywhere to get leaves. One day, I went to this old widow’s house to buy leaves. She came and helped me pick the leaves until we had enough. She told me, “Thank you, it was so great that you came, because I didn’t have enough money for rice today.” I was supposed to give her a certain amount, but even just giving her that wouldn’t have been enough to buy rice. Back then, things were really tight for me, but I needed to help; this is what I really needed to do. I just gave her all the money I had, and then I came home. As long as I have been buying from her, I have continued to give her extra, because I really had compassion for her because she didn’t have any money. How can we look at that and not do something?
When I see someone that’s suffering, even though I don’t have much, I always want to help. For Muslims, if you see someone who is having a hard time, and you don’t help them, that’s a sin. This is part of what it means to be a holy person, and it’s these things that we do to help the poor that we will take with us to eternity, not all the other things that we accumulate.
I really hope we can grow the business so that we can employ more people, and we can help people who are really hard off and don’t have enough. I would like it to be able to become like a processing plant or a factory. We don’t have to recruit people with high educations and degrees. To strip the leaves, even people who have never had a chance to study can do that. For myself, just because I am not going to school doesn’t mean I can’t learn. Education doesn’t necessarily make someone smart. You can get that from learning from other people.
If we want to do something, we have to do it well, we have to do it from our heart, and we have to believe. I am committed to this business. We have built this from nothing, and we are going to keep working until it develops.
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