Women’s Condition in Sumba

 You can find the Renewable Energy Kiosk, Yofi Mayu Delo, with Mama Margaretha, a 44-year old mother of four sitting down in front of the kiosk, winces as she recalls her journey of life. “My parents, and especially my father, did not give his blessing when I got married. Because my husband was working as a mason, my dad assumes that I would suffer,” she says.

Indeed, Mama Margaretha did experience several challenges from the early stages in her marriage. Mama Margaretha is from the island of Sumba which makes her a part Sumbanese women who are not found in political leadership and voiceless in decision-making as well as defined by marriage, reproduction, and domestic work only. Even asserting their thoughts in front of men and the larger public will make Sumbanese women seen as impolite and as breaking the norm. Also, because of Sumba’s patrilineal clans, Mama Margaretha was unable to help her husband generate income.

Mama Margaretha also became a subject of domestic violence from her husband who has severe drinking problems and often beat Mama Margaretha until she had bruises all over the body and face. She was afraid to report it and never felt that she could tell her family since they had not approved of the marriage, to begin with. “I kept the truth in my heart for 11 years. Each time I was beaten, I just prayed to God that maybe one day my husband would change.”

Renewable Energy Kiosk brings a brighter future

After 11 years of despair, Mama Margaretha’s prayers were finally heard. Her husband decided to quit drinking after having an accident while he was drunk. Gradually, his aggressive and violent behaviour also disappeared.

“The accident was a blessing in disguise,” Mama Margaretha admits. “As my domestic life got better, I decided to build a small grocery kiosk in 2006 to have additional income for my family.”

Ten years later, Mama Margaretha’s Kiosk being chosen by Hivos as one of the TERANG Renewable Energy Kiosks. In addition to selling groceries, the kiosk also became a sort of station to recharge solar lanterns as well as a gathering place for people to spend time with their neighbours and watch television together. The kiosk is also open in a longer time, which has increased the number of customers. Mama Margaretha has decided not to increase her prices unlike other kiosks and even then, she makes IDR 24,000,000 every month.

“I applied for a small business credit from Bank Rakyat Indonesia of IDR 25,000,000, which had to be repaid within two years. Luckily, the kiosk is now busier than before, and instead of repaying the loan in two years, I can do it in just a year.”

The patience and persistence of Mama Margaretha teach us a valuable lesson. Women can improve their communities’ livelihood if they are allowed to access the resources and given greater participation in civil society. Today, Mama Margaretha is more confident and holds an important role in her family. While expanding her business, she is thinking about how to bring a brighter light to her village.

“People here are big fans of solar lanterns,” she says, acknowledging the way solar products can improve people’s lives. “I want to keep helping and empowering people in my village in any way that I can.”

[1] TERANG is a combination of two iconic programmes of Hivos, the Sumba Iconic Island initiative and the Indonesian Domestic Biogas Programme. TERANG project is a partnership between Hivos Consortium together with Yayasan Rumah Energi (YRE) and Village Infrastructure Angel (VIA) with Millennium Challenge Account – Indonesia (MCA-I) for the period of December 2015 until March 2018.

[2] Renewable Energy Kiosk has 0.3 kW PV that will charge solar lanterns and hand phones. The kiosk leases out or sells 1,000 lanterns. This activity aims to address these issues and increase access to lighting and electricity for charging cell phones to improve the livelihoods of 5,000 individuals.