Friday, 4 September 2015

Yulius Dala Ngapa: Overcoming Obstacles, Obtaining Knowledge

Yulius Dala Ngapa with children of Suka Damai Village.


Sabu Island is one of the small islands in East Nusa Tenggara Province. The Island size is around 500 kilometer square and has a population of 75,000 people. To reach Sabu Island from Kupang, the Province’s capital city, one must take a small airplane or spend a 12 hours journey by boat. During rainy seasons, most of the Island’s inhabitants work as land farmers. In dry seasons, they earn their living as neera farmers.

Leaving the Island for the sake of higher or better education is not yet a common occurrence for most of the people of the Island. When they decide to leave the Island, it is to work in Kupang or other places. However, Yulius Dala Ngapa thinks differently. A young man who was born on July 19, 1986, he wants to have a better life for himself, his family, and his surroundings. This was the reason why he left Sabu Island and continued his education at Bogor Agriculture Institute, majoring in Chemistry.

As most of the inhabitants of the Island, Yulius’ parents work as neera farmers. Because of the parents’ limitation in education and finance, sending Yulius to continue his education was not their priority. As the youngest of three siblings, Yulius did not want to be a burden for his parents. When he applied to the Institute, he did so without telling his parents. He went to Kupang and did the application process by himself. Even when he got accepted, he still kept the news to himself. When Yulius knew that he was ready and had enough money for travelling, only then he informed them. 

“If I had told my parents about my plan to continue my education in Bogor, most probably they would not have given me the green light to do so. So I saved my money as much as possible and waited until the right moment to tell them,” said Yulius. 

When he first arrived in Bogor, one of the first things that he did was finding out how to support himself financially. After classes, he would submit his resume to different places, even to fast food restaurants. He finally got a job as a tutor in Depok, a nearby town in West Java. 
He learned about Tanoto Foundation when he continued to find funding alternatives for his education. He was selected as one of the recipients of Tanoto Foundation Scholarship in 2014. Yulius said that, becoming a Tanoto Scholar, or a recipient of Tanoto Foundation Scholarship, has strengthened his will to become even better in his studies. Now in 2015, he has been able to maintain his academic performance and continues to receive the Scholarship. 

In addition to receiving financial support, Yulius feels that he has learned a great deal from Tanoto Foundation, particularly in his self esteem and soft skills development. “Tanoto Foundation Scholarship is quite prestigious in our campus. When I was selected as a Tanoto Scholar, I became more confident. I am also very proud of the fact that I am a part of Tanoto Foundation’s big family. Also, Tanoto Foundation encourages us to be involved in many different activities. This way, my knowledge and experience has been improved as well,” said Yulius further. 

He is also an active member of Tanoto Scholars Association at the Institute. Through “Bina Desa” Program, Tanoto Scholars carried out different activities for the children of Suka Damai Village in Bogor. They try to encourage the children to love learning. Through fun and interactive ways, these Scholars encourage the children to be interested in their surroundings. The Scholars then show the children how to use different sources of information to answer all types of questions. 

“This experience has also taught me the importance of giving back to the community. I now realize that, while I try to better myself, it is also important to ensure that our community has to improve as well. This way, everyone benefits from the positive changes,” Yulius also said.

After graduation, Yulius plans to go back to Sabu Island and become a teacher.

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