in Articles, Doing Good, Education, Money

Meet Unes. One day, she’s going to be a dentist.

But not just any dentist. After she finishes her practical period and graduates, Ms Unes Soraya plans to sign up to government program Nusantara Sehat, and be sent to areas in Indonesia that desperately need qualified healthcare professionals like her.

Unes knows what it’s like to grow up not having enough. Her father, working as a security guard, earns less than 800 Rupiahs a month (SGD$80).

Unes is raising 9,589 Indonesian Rupiah (SGD$1,073) – money she desperately needs, for the final practical stage of her degree before she can become a dentist. Here is her story.

Unes (in pink tudung) is in her final practical as a dental student.

Unes (in pink tudung) is in her final practical as a dental student. Look at those smiles!

Unes comes from a low-income family. Her father works as a security guard in Banyuwangi, earning less than Rp. 800.000 per month. (That’s about RM250 or SGD$80 every month.) Unes’ mother now takes care of her grandchildren in Surabaya, where she lives with Unes’ elder sister running a small jilbab (hijab) business.

Together, they make barely enough for themselves, let alone Unes Soraya’s tuition costs at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), ranked 2nd in UniRank’s 2017 Top Indonesian Universities.

“I want to fulfil my promise… to end the cycle of poverty in my family.”

Unes’ father dropped out of secondary school. Her mother didn’t finish primary school, but started working as a penjahit (seamstress) sewing clothes in the village while Unes was growing up.

Both her parents worked as hard as they could to give all three of their children the education they could not get for themselves. Unes remembers her parents’ words in her campaign pitch on Skolafund:

Mengingat orang tua saya pernah berkata bahwa, meskipun Bapak hanya bisa sekolah sampai SMP itupun tidak sampai lulus, dan Ibu saya yang hanya sekolah SD, namun tekad mereka untuk menyekolahkan anak-anaknya tidak pernah berhenti hanya karena kondisi ekonomi keluarga.

I remember what my parents once said, “Even though your father only studied up to secondary school and did not complete it and your mother did not complete primary school, their determination to send you to school has never wavered despite the family’s financial constraints.”

This determination has clearly rubbed off on Unes Soraya, who has shown incredible resourcefulness in her first 4 years at UGM.

Unes worked hard to secure a series of small scholarships throughout the entire period after she missed out on a full scholarship with ‘Bidik Misi’ due to “misinformation.” These covered her tuition fees for those 4 years.

Unes had to find other ways to get money for food and other basic necessities – which she did so with a constant smile.

While she decided to stop selling fried food to “respect other student groups which had already been selling before,” she continued to run an online jilbab business while giving tuition to students, from kindergarten all the way to senior high school.

Unes worked hard to cover the costs of her education.

Unes and a young (slightly nervous) dental patient. Don’t worry, you’re in safe hands!

Today, Unes is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged dentist.

Having finished the academic part of her degree, she is currently doing her profesi, a two-year practical attachment to a dental clinic that she must complete before graduating.

While she somehow finds time and energy to run her business and give tuition in between her dentist duties, Unes couldn’t secure a scholarship for the tuition costs that still need to be paid for this period.

Her resourcefulness turned her towards campaigning on Skolafund. With the help of the Skolafund community of generous sponsors, Unes Soraya is hoping that she can raise at least the SGD$1,070 she needs to pay for the final practical stretch of her studies, before she can be a dentist.

Unes believes that with this sponsorship from kind donors, her responsibility to give back to the society is even larger – that’s why after graduating, she plans to work with programs like Nusantara Sehat or Pencerah Nusantara which send medical professionals like her to places which need them most.

“Saya percaya bahwa setiap anak punya hak yang sama untuk memperoleh pendidikan, dan saya yakin pasti akan ada jalan. Saya sangat berharap campaign ini dapat membantu mencukupi kebutuhan biaya kuliah saya untuk menjadi seorang dokter gigi.” – Unes Soraya

No matter what happens, Unes is confident that when there is a will, there is a way. Her parents’ belief in her continues to drive Unes Soraya towards achieving the degree that they’ve worked so hard to bring her towards. Unes shares an incident that burns fresh still in her mind:

Last time when the three of us siblings want to study at institutions of higher learning, many relatives and neighbours commented,

“Children of a seamstress want to study for higher education? What if you drop out half way?”

Since then I became more motivated to study hard as I want to prove that even children from less-privileged families can do well in institutions of higher education. All children should be free to dream and achieve whatever they want as long as they work hard and believe that God will be there to assist.

Dulu sempat ketika kami bertiga ingin kuliah, banyak tetangga dan saudara kami yang berkomentar:

“Anak penjahit saja muuk-muluk ingin sekolah!”, “Mau kuliah nanti kalau putus di tengah jalan bagaimana?”

Sejak saat itu saya malah semakin bersemangat untuk terus lanjut sekolah, karena saya ingin membuktikan bahwa yang bisa sekolah (apalagi sekolah kedokteran) ,bukan hanya anak-anak orang kaya saja. Semua anak bebas mempunyai impian yang besar asal sungguh-sungguh dan selalu percaya bahwa Alah SWT itu Maha Kaya, jangan takut habis biaya, pasti ada jalan.

We are inspired by you, Unes. Go prove them wrong.

Make a difference in Unes Soraya’s efforts in bringing her family out of poverty. Contribute any amount at all to her Skolafund crowdfunding campaign by clicking on this link now.

Sharing her story to all of your friends will also help – the more people that see Unes’ campaign, the more money we can raise for her together. You can share on Facebook, Twitter, E-mail or Whatsapp using the Social Share buttons on your screen.



Have Your Say!