On a Hunt: The Infamous d.light Chicken

A few months ago, Angelini Sollistifani went on a journey to the land of Sumba. In her blog, she told one great story of a technology user, who bought his d.light S20 with a chicken, and how Mama Eta, one of Kopernik’s Wonder Women, gladly received it.

That story — just like any other great story — left me craving for more. I was curious to know what happened after the story had been told.

How is the chicken now? Is it still in the loving hands of Mama Eta? Has it been passed on to a new owner? Or even, has it been cooked to fill hungry stomachs?

Not long after, I finally got the chance to visit Sumba. I was on a hunt, looking for answers. A chicken-hunt which eventually led me to one awe-inspiring story.

My journey took me to Mama Eta, she was the one who could answer all of my questions. But it was not easy to meet the woman. She was very busy and always on the go. In Sumba, the market in each area open just once every week but the day they open varies from location to location. So as a market trader, Mama Eta goes from one market to another — it’s always different every day.

One day she said, “I’m in Waijelu market”, and the next day she said, “I’m in Waikabubak market”. Two different traditional markets that are located at different ends of Sumba Island.

After endless failed planning, I finally got to meet her on a Sunday because there was no market activity that day.

“It’s right there, just right in front of the house. I like the chicken, so I don’t want to sell it anytime soon,” answered Mama Eta when I asked her about the chicken.

Jokingly, she said she would not mind receiving more payments by bartering, especially with farm animals. “It’s a great investment and probably worth more if I turn it into cash. If I receive cash payment, the money will be used very quickly,” Mama Eta explained cheekily.

My conversation about chicken quickly transitioned to Mama Eta’s life and experience as a Kopernik Wonder Woman.

My conversation about chicken quickly transitioned to Mama Eta’s life and experience as a Kopernik Wonder Woman.

Aged forty-something and not married (by choice), Mama Eta lives in her sister’s house in Waingapu, East Sumba. She is a market trader, specialising in selling Chinese alternative medicines and everything in between (including Kopernik technology). A natural saleswoman, if she sees an opportunity and thinks it can be beneficial for others, she will definitely sell it. The first time she saw Kopernik’s clean cookstove, she saw great potential.

“I was on a market when I saw Widi (Kopernik’s Program Officer) doing a demonstration of the clean cookstove. I was amazed, these technologies are exactly what we need in Sumba,” explain Mama Eta.

A day in Mama Eta’s life is a long one. She wakes up very early in the morning to go the market by public bus. Most of the markets are located very far from her home, taking on average two to three hours of travel door-to-door. At the market, she puts on a show, promoting the Chinese medicine and demonstrating Kopernik’s technology.

According to her, catching the customer’s attention is very crucial. “I always start my demonstration with a unique sales pitch. Something like ‘still taking the risk of burning down your house with a three-stone fire?’, or even by dropping the d.light S300 on purpose,” she explained. This strategy has proven to be a great success. Since joining in mid-2015, she has sold over 30 different products, with the d.light S2 solar light as the best seller.

She has had much success in selling the Chinese alternative medicine. She recently just bought a motorbike from the money she earned selling those. But she wanted to go even further by becoming a Kopernik Wonder Woman.

She said she wanted to rebuild her house back in West Sumba where her mother lives. “My mum is already old and sick, I have to take care of her. It will be nice as well to have her resting in a comfortable house,” said Mama Eta with determination.

An adventurer at heart, her wildest dream is to go to every part of Indonesia. Mama Eta herself has travelled to various places in Indonesia — the big cities, at least — with all modes of transportation, except by aeroplane! Apparently she has a fear of flying. But now, she wants to go to even more remote parts of Indonesia. “I’m curious to see what the situation is like in other places. Who knows, maybe I can distribute clean energy technologies there?” Mama Eta giggles.

I was so happy to see the chicken alive and healthy. But what made me even happier was meeting Mama Eta in person. She truly is amazing!