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When Ni'mah and her family first moved to Pangkalan Kerinci in Indonesia's Riau Province, economic circumstances forced them to live in a hut with no electricity and no running water.

"I used to live in a palm plantation in Pangkalan Kerinci," she says. "There were only seven families living there at the time. There was no electricity, and the roads were still made of dirt. If it rained, it became muddy.

"If I wanted to go to the market, I had to walk around five kilometres to get there."

Ni'mah and her husband moved to the area from Java in 2010, but with few skills, they found it difficult to get jobs, and made ends meet by growing fruits and vegetables.

Today, the family own a house and send their children to boarding school. The change came in 2015 when a friend offered Ni'mah the chance to join Rumah Batik Andalan, a cooperative supported by APRIL which helps local women earn a living by producing colourful cloth known as batik.

Ni'mah was unsure initially – she had never made batik and wasn't sure she would be particularly good at it.

"But I decided to join them since they promised to train me first," Ni'mah explains.

"I was trained by craftswomen there, and due to my diligence in learning from them, I was able to produce my own batik within three months," she shares.

"The first piece of batik I made was valued at IDR 400,000. I was very happy and proud at the time because I could see that I am finally able to make money off batik," Ni'mah says.

It didn't stop there for Ni'mah. To hone her batik skills further, Ni'mah was sent by APRIL's operational unit PT RAPP to Pekalongan in Central Java to train with original batik crafters there.

"This was a surprise as I did not expect to be sent out of town to be trained to make batik," Ni'mah says.

The mother-of-three is now a permanent batik craftswoman at Rumah Batik Andalan, with a fixed income every month. Through the money she makes from selling her batik, Ni'mah has been able to buy a house for her family.

"I am able to earn IDR 3 million a month from batik, in addition to my husband's income," she shares.

"Alhamdulillah, we were able to get a house through our savings, so we no longer have to stay in the hut," she adds.

Thanks to the opportunity she was given at Rumah Batik Andalan, she has even been able to send her children to boarding school.

"If I had not become a batik craftswoman, it is likely that my children would have dropped out of school," Ni'mah says.

For now, Ni'mah and her husband have their hearts set on a specific goal – they hope to one day be able to go on an Umrah pilgrimage and visit Mecca.

"Sooner or later, my husband and I hope to visit the Holy Land," she says.

 

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