© Tay Juhana Foundation

“Women are NOT weak, suboptimal lands are NOT useless.” The story below proved it.

Saturday morning, the TJF team went to a village in Pulau Burung, Indragiri Hilir, to meet two wonder farmers. It was a warm morning as warm as their smile to welcome us. The warmest thing was the love that Defi showed to her mother.

“I want to make mom forever young and beautiful,” said Defi while hugging his mom tightly on the field of spinach. She is just a seven-year-old girl who has a passion no less than her farmer mother, Ribka. Ribka migrated from Medan to a village on Pulau Burung when she was young. She has no previous farming experience and did not know what to do with the peatland near her house. Then, she met an older woman who was very enthusiastic about cultivating the land. Ribka thought, “She can do it. I am way younger than her; why could not I do it.” Ribka raised Defi and her three other children with tears and strong muscles to revamp the (peat)land she borrowed from an acquaintance. Although it was hard at first, Ribka has now managed this land for five years.

Ribka and Monita show their land to TJF team ©Tay Juhana Foundation

“We start at 7 am and go back home at 7 pm,” said Ribka while showing her spinach on the ground. Not only spinach, but Ribka also planted water spinach and mustard greens with her farmer’s best friend, Monita. It was not easy indeed; Ribka and Monita sometimes have to face crop failures due to weather, such as drought and floods, not to mention the difficulty of finding seeds and government assistance.

However, Ribka and Monita’s fighting spirit, and Defi, who always encouraged her mother, were exemplary. Their efforts to plant crops in the land that people think is “impossible” have proven a better way for a better agriculture future. This spirit is what she has held firmly until now. Success does not depend on gender and age; passion and hope will always stay young. Together with her best friend, Monita, they prove that their spirit and hope will make suboptimal land a source of livelihood. Ribka and Monita are women at the forefront of our food security. Defi wouldn’t let age slow her mom down; they are strong and beautiful. They thank you for your two minutes of reading their story and support them with appreciation.

Happy International Women Day for all of the women in the whole world who are as strong and beautiful as they are! We wish this story could be an inspiration for us as they were inspired by another woman. They took the challenge and did it. Would we dare to #ChooseToChallenge and bring the change?