Mama Yoh: A Ray of Perseverance and Determination
Under the bright and scorching sun of East Nusa Tenggara, Mama Yoh, a housewife from Larantuka, picked up one of the solar lanterns she had been demonstrating to the crowd and walked across to give them a closer look. Around 15 people were gathered at the village hall of Waibao, Tanjung Bunga, East Flores that day. Solar lanterns were a particular source of interest because the village is largely still disconnected from the nearest power grid.
“You can use this at the clinic at night, and easily bring this everywhere,” Mama Yoh said to a few nurses in the crowd, all taller than her, with her soft eloquent voice that carried a sense of authority.
Spend a little more time talking to her and it is clear that despite a petite figure and calm disposition, Mama Yoh is a force to be reckoned with. Even before she began her journey as a Wonder Woman with Kopernik in 2015, she had already juggled a string of business ventures, from selling coffee to clothes. These ventures did not always bear fruit, but that never kept her from always trying again.
Mama Yoh has been selling technologies to the last mile with Kopernik for three years
Her friendship with Mama Mia, who also participated in the Wonder Women program, was what introduced her to Kopernik. “As a housewife, I wanted to find something productive to do...It’s also a way to serve the greater community,” Mama Yoh said. At the time she had already attended many of Mama Mia’s tech fairs and occasionally even assisted Mama Mia. Within less than a month of helping Mama Mia, Mama Yoh signed up to the Wonder Women program.
It wasn’t an easy task for her at the start. Having the courage to present in front of a crowd did not come naturally to Mama Yoh. But with experience and support from Kopernik staff members, Mama Yoh now skillfully and gracefully holds a captive audience as she explains the benefits of technologies such as solar lights and water filters in the last mile.
“I feel very proud that I can now stand in front of the public thanks to Kopernik,” said Mama Yoh, with her glowing face and wide smile.
Mama Yoh explaining the benefits of clean technologies to residents of Waibao village
Since joining the Wonder Women program, she has travelled tirelessly across East Flores from one village to another to promote and sell clean technologies, taking on journeys that typically take hours by motorcycle over miles of unpaved roads. Strong family support is the backbone of her efforts, but she is also strategic in her approach, actively reaching out to relatives and friends to reach new villages — even those beyond East Flores. All of these factors combined have led her to sell 730 technologies over the past three years.
Her entrepreneurial and tenacious spirit extends beyond herself and her activities in the Wonder Women program. In 2016, Kopernik gave Mama Yoh a multi-cutter per her request. As it turns out, she uses the cutter to make banana chips that are sold to nearby schools. She inspires and encourages other women in her neighborhood to join her venture.
“Being a Wonder Woman is not always easy...Sometimes people welcome you with open arms, sometimes they don’t...but that is okay. Because that is a lesson for me,” Mama Yoh said. She is determined to continue her work moving forward, reaching new villages so that more and more communities can enjoy the benefits of clean technologies.