GO-JEK Heroes: Bapak Sumani’s Second Chance in Life
For more than 30 years, Sumani made his ends meet by producing wheelchairs for a local hospital. His welding skill had helped countless of people to move again. But for him, it was not only a job. It was a very, very personal profession.
It was November 11th, 1977. His pickup truck crashed to a Mahogany tree after long hours of driving. His feet stuck between the truck and tree. He was trapped for two hours, praying that by the end of the day everything would be okay.
But a day that was started with a hope to bring more money for the family had took a dramatic shift and turned to be the darkest time on his life. First thing he realized when he woke up at the hospital, his left leg wasn’t there anymore.
“I was fainted from shock,” he said. “I didn’t know that my leg would be amputated”.
Having survived a car crash with only one leg, Sumani knows his life shouldn’t end there. More importantly, the life of his wife and children.
For four months he spent his days learning to walk again with a prosthetic leg. He signed up for mental building and life skill classes before he got a job as wheelchairs maker at a state-run hospital in East Jakarta.
However, decades later life had decided to give the man another test.
As he grows older, his vision was slowly deteriorating and making wheelchairs was no longer as easy as it was once. When the hospital had changed of management, Sumani lost his job.
But once again, he didn’t lose his hope.
In 2015 Sumani decided to go back behind the wheel and signed himself up as a Go-Box driver. The scene of truck driver business, however, has changed from 30 years ago, he said.
Back in the old days, the most effective way to make customers aware of his business was to write his phone number on a piece of paper and stick it to the truck, then wait home for the call. He might get one or two appointments in one day, but there also days when the phone did not ring at all.
As a registered Go-Box driver, Sumadi said it was easier for him to meet people who need his services. The only challenge, he said, was to explain to his customers that he uses prosthetic leg, he cannot take off his left shoe and he could not carry too many stuffs.
“Fortunately, most of them said that they have no problem with that,” he said, glad that he had found the bread and butter for the family again.
A recent research released by Demographic Institute of University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Economics, shows that Go-Jek had played a fundamental role in pushing down the country’s unemployment rate.
The research that was carried out in nine areas, in which Go-Jek operated, 75 percent of the Go-Jek drivers are high school graduate. The same research also found that 78 percent of the drivers are taking care of two or more persons at their families.
Besides working as Go-Box driver, Sumani also gives back to the community by distributing prosthetic legs or hands from various institution to the disabled people.
If there is one thing he could share to his disable fellow, it was to keep up the fight to make sure that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.
“Although we have a disability, God gives us extra strength,” he said.