When I was in fourth grade, I was forced to flee to Indonesia because of the Independence referendum in Timor Leste. Overnight, I became an orphan in a foreign country.
From a young age, life was tough. I lived in an orphanage and became a scavenger in order to continue my education as I did not have enough money. I went to the markets and food stalls every day and ate whatever I could find, even rotten food. I did not have a choice.
Still, I told myself that my sacrifice now will be worth it as I thought that the certificate would help me to get a proper job. But it was not to be. I remained jobless and my situation worsened. Once, I ate rice meant for dogs.
In order to survive, I took up multiple odd jobs. I even joined a crime organization that scams insurance company.
In early 2010, I was working at a clothing factory. The working conditions were appalling. Our hours were long but we were only paid RP 300 000 (21.17 USD) per month. During the fasting month, Muslims were offered only either an egg or noodles when they broke fast. I was angry at the way my colleagues were treated and I stole food from the office for them.
As I was creating a lot of “problems” and “challenging" my boss, he tried to get me fired.
He eventually got his way when he accused me of putting a smoke blunt in his office. Even though I vehemently denied the accusation, no one believed me and I was fired.
I was livid by the injustice and vowed to take revenge on my boss. I bought a knife and a book on how to erase evidence from murder scenes. I was going to kill him on 11 June. Nobody will stop me.
My life changed when Santo, a senior from TLF visited my orphanage in December 2010. Before he came, I asked God for a sign. I told him that my left hand wanted to kill my boss but my right hand did not want to. I asked him for help. I asked him for a sign.
Then Santo came by and told me that TLF will change my life. I could not believe it. This surely must be God’s sign.
The first few months at TLF was the hardest. I struggled to adapt and wanted to run away. But the persistent care and mentoring by the facilitators at TLF won me over. For the first time in my entire life, I felt that I was being treated like a human being and the scars from my past were beginning to heal.
I enjoyed the rest of my stay and graduated second in my cohort. I was offered a job at PT Hextar Seed (owned by our donor, Pak David Yaori) after I graduated. I will forever remember my first day at work. It was on 6 June 2011, five days before I had planned to kill my former boss. Later, I was also given the opportunity to study Management in Bandung Raya University by my employer and graduated with a bachelor degree.
I cannot express how grateful I am to TLF. They taught me many things that I did not know before. Crucially, TLF helped me to find hope and happiness in my life.
To repay TLF, I work hard and stay away from my past. I want to honour the good name of TLF in all my actions. I don’t want to let them down after all they have done for me.