Acquire knowledge, it enables its possessor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to heaven. It is our friend in the desert, our company in solitude and companion when friendless. It guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery, and it is an ornament amongst friends and armor against enemies.
She was an orphan, she was a young girl in a developing Islamic country, she was alone and had to rely on others for almost every need. The odds were stacked against Nur Samawi almost from the very beginning. However, through faith and perseverance, by focusing on her goals and not on the many obstacles in her way, she became a successful young professional, and found love as well.
Nur was born in Angkup, a small city in the mountains of Indonesia. Angkup enjoys rich natural resources, beautiful landscapes and a mild, cool climate. Nur lived here in a small house with her family, the perfect, peaceful life we can all imagine. Life changed abruptly for her however, when she was just three years old. Her father died, leaving her mother a young widow and Nur and her younger brother orphans.
The small family moved in with Nur’s grandmother. It was a farming town and the school was far away. Although they faced many struggles, the most painful memories Nur has are of emptiness and loss. She missed her father with all her heart. “I used to get jealous whenever my friends’ fathers were around. Sometimes at night I would cry myself to sleep because I wished he was still holding me very tightly,” she explains. “The pain was always very sharp in my heart.”
When Nur was six years old she went to live in a government orphanage run by a man named Samsuddin. He was kind and Nur considered him like her father. She called him “Ayah Samsuddin” or “Father Samsuddin.”(He also happened to be Dian Alyan’s Uncle). However, the orphanage was struggling to support 100 children and sometimes there were more than eight children per room. Nur remembers it being very noisy.
As a child she used failures to strengthen her determination to succeed. “I remember when I was in grade school, my teacher asked me to do a mathematics problem. I could not do it. I was sad and embarrassed.” Nur made a promise to herself. “I learned from this. I promised myself that I would study even harder and always be able to answer a teacher’s questions.” Nur studied with a passion and decided that one day she would be able to support herself. However, she knew she needed some kind of support and an environment that would help her flourish. She yearned for privacy and a quiet place to study and read. “I was sad,” she says. “I longed for peace and a safe place to study. Also, there were no facilities and no help or support.”
Unfortunately, when Ayah Samsuddin reached retirement age, the government did not want him to continue running the orphanage and he was forced to retire. He moved to his home in Dedalu. Here, he donated his land to GiveLight. He let his home be bulldozed so Give Light could build an orphanage there. Nur was in high school when this happened. When she heard the news that Ayah Samsuddin would be running the new orphanage, she knew she wanted to be part of Give Light. She wrote letters begging to be allowed to move to the Give Light orphanage.
Nur had friends who were living at the Give Light orphanage. “The orphanage was wonderful, with facilities I could use for studying and learning,” Nur explains. Nur yearned for the support and opportunities offered at Give Light. “Give Light had discipline and love,” Nur says. She eventually met Dian Alyan. She finally summoned up the courage and asked Dian if she could please stay at her orphanage. Ayah Samsuddin said, “Nur is a smart, pious, diligent girl, so we should definitely welcome her.”
Her journey with Give Light did not end when she graduated from high school. Nur got a full scholarship to the University of STEI SEBI (Shariah Economic Banking Institute) and majored in Management Shariah Banking. “I rented a house with 13 girls but then eventually moved to the dormitory. Alhamdulillah, Give Light paid for my living costs,” Nur says. “I knew Give Light believed in me and was there to support me. This was so important for my spirit. I was able to focus on my studies without having to worry about food or rent or having a home.” One of the most important things Give Light gave Nur was the feeling of not being alone. Nur received her bachelor’s degree and finished college early, in three and a half years.
In 2011, something happened that would change Nur’s life again. Nur went to Bogor University to take the TOEFL. The size of the university was overwhelming and she asked a gentleman for directions. He walked her to the classroom. He happened to be a lecturer at the university—a lecturer on Islamic Banking, which was Nur’s major. He happened to be there for a meeting. He happened to know one of Nur’s friends at her college. When Nur finished her test, he was waiting outside the classroom for her. His name was Muhammad Isman Almaududi. Nur and Muhammad were soon married. The celebration was held at the Give Light home in Aceh. “There were tears of joy in everyone’s eyes to see one of our girls getting married,” Dian says.
Nur currently works in the Overseas Relationships and Marketing Division of CNA (Cabang Niaga Abadi), an NGO, which help needy people overseas. She is Give Light’s first orphan to graduate college.
Nur Samawi’s faith, perseverance and determination helped her beat the odds. She was a young woman, had limited resources, and almost no family support. She was alone and an orphan. Nur however, gives full credit to Give Light for bringing her where she is. According to Nur, Give Light doesn’t just support orphans; it nurtures them and helps their dreams come true. The sustenance and encouragement provided by Give Light helped her focus on her dreams, not her obstacles and losses. “If I could say one thing to everyone about Give Light,” Nur says, “ I would say please, please support the foundation. They changed my life and there are so many children whose dreams they can help come true.”