SUMATRA, INDONESIA – When one elderly Indonesian fruit vendor was robbed, the entire world was outraged and pitched in to help. It’s an awesome story of generosity, empathy, and teamwork – and the power of a simple video.
When 94-year-old Suratman was approached by a driver and asked to step into their car to sell his fruit, he thought nothing of it, wanting to make a little extra money. Once inside, everything went wrong. The two men forced Mr. Suratman to empty his pockets. After they had stolen everything, they kicked him out of the car and made their get-away.
Indonesian Tommy Reza was nearby at the time, and found Mr. Suratman in tears. In an effor to help, he filmed the elderly man’s distress and told Mr. Suratman’s story on Facebook.
“I just happened to be in the area when I saw a man shouting for help,” Reza said. “Many people from Jambi and even overseas from places like Hong Kong and Malaysia got in touch to ask me where they could donate money.”
82 thousand people responded. The post got over 70,000 shares on Facebook. Thousands of people expressed their sadness and outrage. Among them was Calista Primalia.
“This is disgusting on so many levels,” she wrote, “First, it says a lot about you if you pick on an old man who is just trying to earn a living. And to think anyone would have the heart to carry out such an ugly deed during fasting month. Shame on them all.”
Another woman who watched the video, Angie Kuron, posted: “I cried because of the unfairness of it all. Is this what our country has been reduced to? I hope that the authorities will catch these crooks soon.”
Since his post went viral, Reza began collection donations that came pouring in for Mr. Suratman. More than 27m rupiah have been raised from donations around the world. The local community got involved to. The governor of the area donated 5m rupiah and bought Mr. Suratman’s remaining banana stock.
Mr. Reza posted pictures online of himself personally delivering the money to Mr. Suratman and his family. He wrote, “He was very grateful and he was praying. I told him that I was only the messenger.”
We’re so glad that Mr. Suratman was helped. Hopefully the men whole stole his money will be caught by the Indonesia police soon. Until then, we can rest well knowing that Mr. Suratman is okay, and that he won’t be going out of business selling his bananas anytime soon.
“Indonesians are amazing. I’m touched by their compassion towards one another.” – Tommy Reza.