A few days ago I had a conversation over green tea latte with good friends, Vincent and Yasa from an entrepreneurship organization called EO. We shared stories about our experiences that make us who we are today. Both of them have so many amazing stories to be shared and towards the end of our late night conversation, Yasa shared to us a true story of a mother who raised 11 children on her own with economic difficulties and all of her children turns out to be very successful people.
Today, the youngest son, Mr. Teguh owns three schools, three hotels, one trading company and one factory that manufacture computer in Shenzen, China. Listening to the story made me all tear up and I hope this story could inspire readers.
Mr. Teguh was born in Palembang. His father suffered from stroke for 18 years, therefore, his mother was the only person who takes care of his father and her 11 children including Mr. Teguh. Back then when Mr. Teguh mother was still alive, every morning his mother woke up at 4 to sell pempek at a market, took care of her husband from feeding him food to cleaning his feces, sent her kids to school and gave her kids tutor so that all of her kids could finish high school.
Every day the family would take a turn to clean his father’s feces. When Mr. Teguh had his turn, there was one time he got so upset because the feces smell so bad. But his anger turned into sadness as he imagined when his brothers and he were little, her mother was the one who did this every day without complaining.
In every night, she would tuck all her kids to bed, all of the kids were sleeping in a row all cramped up like sardine in one tiny room. Consistently every night before kids were falling asleep, she would whisper to each of her kids, “My kid, when you grow up, I wish you can be honest, smart, successful and do not forget to share”. She did this every single night.
One day, someone asked his mother, “You are still 35 years old. You have a husband who suffers from stroke, 11 children. Why don’t you send your husband to old folks home and give all your kids to the orphanage? You can start a new life.”
She answered, “I will never leave my family and this is my responsibility. Let me pay off all my karma in this life.”
Because of his mother’s sacrifices, Mr. Teguh and his siblings work extremely hard to be the best in school so that they could get a scholarship and ease her burden. Mr. Teguh finally received a bachelor degree scholarship at one of the most prestigious public universities in Indonesia, Universitas Gajah Mada and then he received a master degree scholarship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA.
During his time pursuing the master degree, his mom often called him asking if he is doing alright, even when he had a fever or got so tired from washing plates, he would tell his mom that he is doing alright and feel happy living in states. He does not want to make his mother worried.
After graduating from MIT, he worked for Bill Gates at Microsoft with IDR 200 million salaries. In early of the 2000s, Mr. Teguh decided to come back to his country, Indonesia. He started his own business and become a millionaire with various businesses across countries.
There was one time during a family gathering, he asked his brother, “Bro, do you still remember what mom had whispered to us every night before bed?”
His brother replied, “Of course I remember. Every night she whispered wishing us to be an honest, smart, successful and never forget to share our fortune with others. Because of that, I vow to be that kind of person.” Mr. Teguh’s brother is one of the most respected leaders in private bank managing thousand of staffs.
Because of his brother’s important role in the company, a lot of times after finishing one project, his client would thank his brother by giving him expensive gifts like cars. He then politely declined the gift because of his dedication to be a man of integrity just as his mother wished him to be.
Today, Mr. Teguh and his siblings have family on their own. Mr. Teguh has achieved financial freedom and he dedicates his life to serve others. He becomes a regular volunteer at Yayasan Buddha Tzu Chi Indonesia. He gives hair wash for elderly, sends sick people from the rural area to a hospital, follows up on their well-being.
When Yasa asked him the reason behind his dedication to helping less fortunate people, he explained that he learned a lot from them.
There was one moment, he assisted a bajaj driver, Mr. Mamat (not the real name) who suffers from illness and could not work for months cause he needed time for recovery. Yayasan Buddha Tzu Chi Indonesia would ask Mr. Mamat on how much money he needs to cover his living expenses during recovery. He mentioned he needs IDR 3 million. So every month Mr. Teguh visited his house and sent him money. On the third month, when Mr. Teguh came to his house and hand him 3 million rupiah for his daily expenses, he rejected the money and said, “Mr. Teguh, I am fine now and I don’t need to money anymore. Please give the money to those who are needed.”
Mr. Teguh was amazed and told Yasa, “I learned a lesson from Mr. Mamat, he showed me that not everyone who lives in poverty has a poor mentality.”
When Mr. Teguh was asked, “What’s the key factor that contributes to your success?”
He answered, “Mom’s prayer. Her prayer and wishes for us to be an honest, smart, successful and remember to share have helped me to be the person I am today.”
This story has inspired me to look at success in different perspective. To me, the most successful person in this story is Mr. Teguh’s mother. She has successfully won the parenting by making sure all her children become a blessing to others. She is a true inspiration. It makes me rethink the kind of mother I want to be when I have my own family.
Because I run my own business since young, I wanted to be the kind of mother to teach my kids on becoming independent and be a successful businessman as early as possible. It never crossed my mind before to be the kind of mother who would instill moral values in my kids.
I think the greatest treasure a mother could give to their children is to equip them with good moral values so that they do not only survive in this world but to be the living and breathing inspiration for humankind. To spread and inspire loving-kindness and make the world a happier place to live.
This post is dedicated to my mother who is my greatest supporter of all time and to my best friend, Shelly who is about to be a great mother.