By Hendro Suwito, World Vision Indonesia communicator
It was the dawn of a new day in Abepura, Papua Province, Indonesia. It was almost five o’clock in the morning and the sky was still rather dark. But, Flavianus Lokobal, 22, leaves behind his wooden bed. He has to start this new day.
He swiftly prepares himself. And not long afterward, he walks to his friend’s house nearby to rent his motorcycle. He soon rides the motorbike through the narrow asphalted road in the neighbourhood.
At one corner of an alley, a woman waves her hand at him. Flavianus stops and takes her to the main road of Abepura, about a mile away. She hands 3,000 rupiah [about 35 US cents] to slightly-smiling Flavianus. She soon gets a public transport vehicle to take her to the marketplace or to the office where she works.
Flavianus quickly gets back to the housing complex to find his next passenger. A middle-age man uses his service and another 35 cents change hands. Yes, Flavianus operates a motorbike taxi service in the neighbourhood.
Between five and 7.30 am, he uses the motorbike to transport scores of people from the housing complex to the main road to start their activities.
In the afternoon, between 2:30 and 7 or 8 pm, Flavianus again busily transports people with his motorbike. Most of them are returning to their own houses in the complex.
At about 8 pm, Flavianus returns the motorbike to his friend’s house and handed him 50,000 rupiah (about 5.50 US dollars) for the rental fee.
Flavianus is not an ordinary motorbike taxi rider. He is a student of the anthropology of the Cenderawasih University, the most prominent state university in Papua province. He is in the fifth semester in November 2008.
Flavianus was born in a hamlet near Hepuba village in Kurima sub-district in the Jayawijaya highlands at the heart of Papua. He was one of the sponsored children of World Vision-supported Kurima Area Development Program (ADP). He was sponsored since he was at the fourth grade of primary school.
Since early in his childhood, he was a very diligent boy. When he was at the senior high schooler, he had to go to school in Wamena, capital of Jayawijaya district. He used to get up at 5 am and walked down the hill to Hepuba town where he put his bicycle at his uncle’s house. He rode his bike to Wamena, more than 10 km away.
His father passed away when he was teenager. He was fortunate that his Austrian sponsor kept supporting a part of his study needs, even throughout his college years. Beside Flavianus, his younger sister was also studying office administration at a college in Wamena. His older brother did not get the chance to go to university. He worked at a palm oil processing farm near Abepura.
His campus was situated at the other part of the hill behind his house. He had to ride the motorbike circling the hill to reach his campus. He lived in a very simple house which was abandoned by the owner following severe floods in the area.
When Flavianus just enrolling at the university, with very limited money to support his daily living, he had no choice than to walk on foot to his campus. He chose to sweat as he hiked over the hill instead of walking around the hill. “I did that (hiking across the hill) almost every day during the first semester,” Flavianus recalls.
He discovered a smart solution in the second semester: renting his friend’s motorbike to get extra money and ease his transport to his campus. Since then, he stopped hiking the hill and could get 2 to 4 US dollars in net earnings per day. He could survive through the years of his study.
He usually studied at the campus between 9 am and 12 pm. In the evening, he would study between 8 and 10 pm. He usually reviewed his lessons and prepared for his study the next day.
Flavianus Lokobal, now 25, has secured his dream to clinch the BA degree in anthropology a few months ago. He is in the process of applying for his dream job, whether at a commercial company or as a civil servant.
During his spare time, Flavianus still offers motorbike taxi services to the people in his neighbourhood. He also generously shares his study experience and his dreams to the youth group at his church to encourage the youngsters to study as high as possible and seriously prepare for their future.
“I’m very fortunate to get support from my sponsor through the Kurima ADP,” he says. “I’m very grateful for all the support.”