You’re never ever going to feel justified skipping out on school or work because “it’s just too hard” after hearing the story of Mukhlis Adul Kholik, an Indonesian boy who was born with some physical handicaps but also seems to have been blessed with superhuman determination and unbreakable good spirits.
Adul, as he is known, is a third grade student living in a rural part of Sukabumi, West Java. He first gained viral fame in Indonesia about one month ago after some media outlets documented his 3 km journey to school every day. With detours from the main road over rough terrain and muddy slopes, it’d be a perilous trip for any third grader. But we can only imagine how hard it is for Adul, who must use both of his arms to help himself walk due to a condition he was born with that affected the development of his legs.
But, as can be seen in the videos below and the many other media appearances Adul has made since his inspirational story made him famous, the eight-year-old takes the challenge in stride and seems genuinely enthusiastic about making the trip back and forth from his school every day.
Teachers at his elementary school, SDN 10 Cibadak, say that Adul is not only enthusiastic, he is among their brightest students, often scoring in the top 10 of his class. They also say that he regularly plays and competes with his peers and is surprisingly athletic with a particular talent for climbing.
“He is not the type of child who is moody. Every day he is very active, even though he is physically limited. He is not the one we are motivating, he is the one who motivates his friends and even his teachers,” said the school’s principal Epi Mulyadi as quoted by Detik on November 10.
Media reports mentioned that one of Adul’s dreams was to shake hands with President Joko Widodo, and the 3rd grader got to do just that on Monday, which was also International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Adul met with the president at an event to mark the occasion in Bekasi. Not only did he get to shake Jokowi’s hand, the president even carried him in his arms as captured in this photo shared on the head of state’s social media channels.
Mukhlis Abdul Holik baru berusia delapan tahun, tapi perjuangannya untuk mewujudkan cita-cita sungguh menginspirasi kita…
After explaining a bit about the Adul’s story, Jokowi’s caption says:
“Today I met with Adul on International Disability Day 2018 in Bekasi. What does Adul’s want to be when he grows up? “To be a firefighter,” he replied.
Why a firefighter? “To help people”.
Adul, a small boy from Sukabumi, has taught us all that the determination to move forward, the desire to be a person that is beneficial to other people, is not diminished in the slightest by limitations.”
Lovely words from the president, but we do hope that Jokowi will be able to take more concrete action to help Adul and other Indonesians living with disabilities. While Adul’s ability to make the long trip back and forth to school each day is incredibly inspiring, it’s also not something he should have to do (reportedly his family cannot afford the cost of hiring somebody to drive him to school each day).
The government has a lot of work to do to make Indonesia a country that is inclusive and protects the rights of those with disabilities to live happy and productive lives. But if Adul can work as hard as he does every day just to get to school, neither the government nor any of us have an excuse to not work hard to make Indonesia a better country for people like him.