Building a healthy space for my child

Although Abdul was born with weak legs, he did not resent the fact that he could not walk. “I don’t feel different from others. I’m just thankful that God made me and allowed me to live. My condition is just a fact about my body.” Orphaned at a young age, Abdul had been bullied in school and in his neighborhood. He is now 38 years old and lives in Tegal Sari, a slum community in Surabaya city, more than 760 kilometers east of the capital Indonesia.

Abdul makes a living from silk screen printing which he studied in high school. On a plot of land donated by his brother, Abdul built a 9 square meter house that also contains his printing studio.

Abdul Story

(From left) Abdul, 38, his wife Warkatul, 28, and their son Arman, 6, at their home’s newly-built second floor room. Abdul was worried that the fumes from his home-based silkscreen printing studio were affecting his son’s health. Habitat for Humanity Indonesia helped the couple to add the extension room which now serves as Abdul’s workshop, separate from the family’s living space on the first floor. Photo: Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein.

Eight years ago, he started corresponding with 20-year-old Warkatul via text messaging. They met, fell in love and got married. Abdul had all that he needed then, until his son Arman was born in 2011.

“I was afraid that the fumes from the chemicals that I used for my silk screening projects were contaminating the house and affecting his health,” Abdul said. “He often had a sore throat. I think it must be from the oil.”

In 2015, Abdul and his wife applied to Habitat for Humanity Indonesia to add a second story to their existing house with the help of the community leaders. Upon a successful application, Abdul’s wife and his nephew contributed labor toward the construction of a second floor. The work was completed by early 2017. Currently, Abdul and his family live on the first floor while his printing studio is now located on the second story that also serves as the reception area for his business.

While Abdul thought it was still too early to know the long-term impact of the work done on his house,  Warkatul already saw some benefits in her son’s improved health. “This new house is a place for our family to feel happy in. The other kids in the neighborhood used to bully my son because we had such a tiny house. Now, the bullying has stopped. Arman can feel proud because of his bigger house.”

For Abdul, his home-based business enables him to provide for his family’s future. “I hope to give my son an university education as I only finished high school. I just want him to be happy. As for my wife, I hope she remains patient with me. I hope that this marriage lasts—until death do us part.”

In conclusion, Warkatul has this message: “If we have a pure heart, God will always fulfill our dreams. Just live a life with a pure heart. And I hope those who read our story can also help others like us.”

Habitat for Humanity Indonesia has been working with families like Abdul’s to build a better life since 2014. To date, Habitat Indonesia has enabled more than 5,000 individuals in a Korean-funded project to improve their lives through decent housing and/or clean water and safe sanitation. Habitat Indonesia is also implementing a five-year community action plan. This includes rehabilitating Tegal Sari’s drainage system, setting up a waste management system and renovating community centers, schools and community toilets. Training in waste management and maintaining a safe, healthy living environment will be provided. In addition, Habitat Indonesia has supported school repairs and greening programs in the community.

Find out more about Habitat's work and our supporters through our e-newsletter, Asia-Pacific UpdateSubscribe now.