64-year-old Maryani is finally realising her dream of performing the Hajj pilgrimage after spending almost three decades picking waste in secret.
“I have always wanted to go for Hajj,” she told Anadolu Agency before leaving for Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Maryani said her desire to complete the Hajj pilgrimage grew stronger when her husband passed away in the 1980s. Widowed and left with four children to raise on her own, Maryani initially didn’t know how to save money.
“So, I started collecting the junk,” she said.
Mariyani would work every morning from dawn until the fajr adhan collecting recyclable items such as plastic cups, bottles and bits of cardboard that she could sell on.
“After a heavy rain, I also collected sands to sell,” she added.
In 2012, after 19 years, Maryani’s had saved 25 million rupiahs ($1,750), the minimum first payment required to register for Hajj in Indonesia at the time. She continued working up until this year to save the remaining 10 million rupiahs ($699.82).
Although her now-adult children supported her with daily expenses, they had no idea that their mother had been saving for Hajj all this time.
“How could I help my mother, I also didn’t know she collected money to leave for the pilgrimage,” said one of her children, Dany Mulyana, who works as a parking attendant.
Mariyani only told her children that she was going to Makkah in April after she received her departure schedule from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. She admitted that 26 years was a very long time, but never worried about when she would have enough money to finally perform Hajj.
“The most important thing was that I saved up. I never gave up, always full of spirit and never felt tired.”