Orphans are the new donors

Ani, 46, was raised in an orphanage, and now she is back, to send her own son there.

“I have no choice,” Ani explained, “My husband passed away and I simply can’t afford to provide for my son, much less his education.”

Situations like this are not uncommon in Indonesia, where 21 million people still live below the poverty line. Martinus Gea, 43, however, believes that there is a solution. In fact, he intends to transform 10,000 orphans into entrepreneurs.

“Traditional orphanages are sustaining a vicious poverty cycle where generations of children are raised by orphanages. We need to end this poverty cycle and stop marketing pity and poverty. We need to focus on the future and we can do this through quality education,” said Gea.

The students apprenticing at a garment factory and learning about materials

The students apprenticing at a garment factory and learning about materials

He founded Yayasan Prima Unggul (YPU), a non-profit entrepreneurship high school for orphans in February 2011. With firsthand experience growing up in an orphanage, Martin explained that an orphan’s mindset often inhibits them from success and one of YPU’s aim is thus to empower orphans.

“Everything we have, we received from others,” Gea explained, “We were dependent on others’ goodwill and always saw ourselves as powerless. We didn’t know we had it in us to do something big.”

YPU students undergo an entrepreneurship based practical education that equips them not only for success in their own lives, but also gives them a chance to contribute to society. Students run several small business units within the school, and the profits contribute to about 20% of the total operational cost to run the school and care for the students’ daily needs.

“YPU made me more independent and self-confident. I picked up many new skills by apprenticing at different companies,” YPU student, Andhika Kristian, 15, said, “I feel that I can take my skills back to my hometown and start a business after I graduate.”

Students also contribute to society by holding low-cost Mathematics and Sciences courses for elementary school children in the neighborhood.

“I’m really happy to be guiding these students,” 16 years old Maria Densiana said, “My leadership and training skills are also improving.”

While the organization is still highly reliant on donations, Gea hopes that in 5 years’ time, the school can depend on itself and spread the self-sustainable model throughout Indonesia.

“If you think orphans have nothing to give, think again. Our orphans are determined to inspire and give to society. They’re the new donors.”

Note: I first wrote this article as a press release for Yayasan Prima Unggul. I do not profit in any way from YPU. I am neither a salaried nor commissioned employee. I am merely a volunteer who strongly believes this is the right direction to go for orphanages and would like in every way to contribute to the process. Help the organization be self-sustainable so it can cease relying solely on donations.  STOP the marketing of PITY and POVERTY. It’s time for empowerment!

YPU urgently need funds to sustain its current operations. If you wish to donate, details can be found on www.primaunggul.org/donate