Sakdiah's Struggle to Raise Children in Poverty

Sakdiah lives in a dilapidated house, and her daughter has to drop out of school. All of that because of her limited economic conditions.

Sakdiah and her daughter in front of her home. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, LANGSA – Living in a narrow house measuring 3 by 1.5 meters may not be easy for many people. Moreover, it is the only place to live. However, it is all actual and experienced by Sakdiah and her two children aged nine and ten months.

Sakdiah is a resident of Lhokbanie Village, West Langsa District, Langsa City. Previously, her house's size was 5 by 3 meters with a dirt floor and was in dire condition. The walls and pillars have quickly weathered and eroded due to the tide that always hit her house.

Currently, the narrow house measuring 3 by 1.5 meters is Sakdiah's residence. She is a widow and built the house herself. Sakdiah raised her house 2 meters from the ground using scrap wood and bamboo.

Do not expect to see various household items in Sakdiah's house. Sakdiah puts her clothes in the corner of her house instead of the cupboard. Sakdiah does not have a mattress. Sakdiah and her children sleep on a bamboo mat using two pillows.

"This is where we pray, sleep, eat and put our clothes," said Sakdiah to the ACTNews team.

In the kitchen, there is only one frying pan and one pot for cooking rice. Her cooking utensils are outdated. Her kitchen is narrow, only measuring 70 by 150 centimeters. The roof only covers some part of her kitchen. Sakdiah cannot use her kitchen when the rain pours. However, Sakdiah deliberately did not close it. It can be used as a bathroom when it is raining. "My kitchen is not only for cooking. We also use it for bathing. Hence, the roof has a hole on purpose," she said.

Sakdiah's kitchen. (ACTNews)

Limited economy condition

Several bags of shells are neatly lined under Sakdiah's stilt house. That is only part of it. The rest Sakdiah dumped in a hole that has been prepared. Hence, it did not pollute the environment.

Sakdiah has been working as a shellfish seeker for a dozen years. She has been doing this job since she was a teenager. Sakdiah feels that the shells are getting harder to collect day by day. It is not like when she was young. The number of shellfish affects Sakdiah's daily income.

“I can collect shellfish worth IDR 20,000 a day. It is not enough to meet my daily needs. However, I have no choice and cannot do much,” said Sakdiah.

Sakdiah does not collect shellfish every day. Sometimes, she irons others’ clothes. Her income is uncertain and depends on how many clothes she has to iron. She earned around IDR 20 to 30 thousand. 

In a month, Sakdiah works only 15 to 20 days. When she does not work, she has no income. Sometimes, Sakdiah borrows money if she has no income. A few days before the meeting with ACTNews, Sakdiah pawned the jewelry, which was the only valuable item, with a value of IDR 300 thousand.

“If there is nothing to cook, we do not eat. I am embarrassed to ask my neighbors for food because I have been asking too many times. Hence, I decided not to beg and try my best instead of bothering other people,” she said. 

Food is an urgent need of Sakdiah’s family. Every day, they eat simple food such as rice and salted fish. The number of servings is only enough for a few days, but Sakdiah tries to make it enough to eat for a week.

The condition of her children

Sakdiah's eldest daughter cannot continue her education. She only went to school until the third grade. Sakdian could not buy uniforms, school equipment, and other things due to her economic condition. 

Even so, Sakdiah is aware that education is crucial for her children. Now, she is struggling to find a job that can provide her with a better income. Hence, she can send her children back to school.

“All parents want their children to go to school, so do I. I want my children to be successful and live a decent life, unlike me now,” said Sakdiah, who has difficulty finding work because she also has to take care of her youngest child, who is only ten months old. Sakdiah has three children. However, his only son has passed away.

The life of Sakdiah and her family is a picture of the life of the poor throughout Indonesia. The Central Statistics Agency noted that as of March 2021, the number of poor people in Indonesia reached 27.54 million. It takes a helping hand, cooperation, and generosity to help others lift from the abyss of poverty.[]