Viral: Story of struggling elderly motorcycle taxi driver moves netizens, more than IDR100 million raised to help him

Twitter user Elsya Sandria tweeted a series of videos about her recent encounter with an elderly ojol named Sri in Bogor, West Java. His story captured the hearts of netizens, and she raised more than IDR114 million (US$8,345) to help Sri in a matter of hours. Photo: Twitter/@elsyasandria2
Twitter user Elsya Sandria tweeted a series of videos about her recent encounter with an elderly ojol named Sri in Bogor, West Java. His story captured the hearts of netizens, and she raised more than IDR114 million (US$8,345) to help Sri in a matter of hours. Photo: Twitter/@elsyasandria2

We’ve written about heartwarming stories involving app-based motorcycle taxi drivers (locally known as ojek online or ojol for short) before, but a recent viral thread on an elderly driver is making us tear up a little as it restored our faith in humanity. 

The story was shared by Twitter user Elsya Sandria, who tweeted a series of videos — initially posted as Instagram stories — on Saturday about encountering an elderly ojol named Sri in front of the Bogor Train Station in West Java the previous night. 

Elsya was waiting for her ojol ride close to midnight as it was drizzling, when Sri approached her with a hesitant and tired face.

Mbak, have you ordered? If not, may I take you home? My phone died, but you can pay me according to the price on the application,” Elsya wrote on the first video, quoting Sri. 

Elsya said she was hesitant at first because it was late and she lived far away. She made sure that Sri was okay with driving her home, and learned that the driver had not received any orders for more than two hours, pointing out that people were doubtful of his status as a legitimate driver. 

During the ride, Elsya learned that Sri is 68 and that his phone was damaged, meaning he was unable to properly receive orders through the app. Though most people are retired at his age, Sri told Elsya that he is still supporting his two children, both of whom are still in high school. 

As the rain got heavier, Elsya asked Sri to pull over and accompany her to dine at a restaurant, which he initially refused but eventually agreed to. As they were dining, Elsya got to know him better — including the fact that the roof of his house had recently collapsed. 

“I kept looking at him during dinner, I had to hold my tears because I felt like looking at my own grandfather. I thought to myself, ‘it’s raining heavily, late at night, but he’s still working hard to find passengers’,” Elsya wrote.

Elsya decided that it was dangerous for the two of them to continue the ride back to her house, so she exchanged numbers with Sri and hopped on an angkot minivan to get home instead. 

The next day, Elsya visited Sri at his house and discovered that he was living alone and had been sleeping outside because of the collapsed roof. 

Sri’s heartbreaking story quickly became viral, resulting in well wishes and charitable intentions from netizens, who started to ask Elsya how they can help Sri. Elsya then shared her bank account, which she said will be dedicated to receive funds to help Sri, and she raised more than IDR114 million (US$8,345) in a matter of hours. 

Yesterday, Elsya gave an update to the story and said she met again with Sri to buy him a new phone, a new motorcycle, new clothes, as well as moving him out temporarily to renovate his house — which you can see in this wholesome thread below:

Working as an ojol driver is indeed challenging, especially when considering the harsh and competitive nature of the job. Sri’s story adds to the growing list of ojol drivers who received donations through online fundraisers, such as the driver in North Jakarta who still delivered his food order after his motorcycle was stolen, and another in Bekasi who delivered food using his bicycle because his motorcycle had broken down. These heartwarming stories certainly showcase both the power of social media and our collective capacity to do good.


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