If you happen to be at home in Kemang and you hear the gentle, lyrical call of “Solbatu” there is a reasonably good chance it belongs to Akasayapudin, the shoe repair man, who specializes in repairing sandals, bags, shoes and whatever else his customers bring to him. His nimble hands eager to solve a problem.
Aka, as he is known to his friends, hails from Garut, which is a five-hour drive from Jakarta. He is married with two children aged 12 and 4 years old. He works long hours and from the money he earns he has a savings goal of Rp.20,000 a day. Like many others, Aka comes to Jakarta for work. He returns to his wife and children every six to eight weeks with his savings. With his savings he can support them, put food on the table and buy schoolbooks and uniforms for his children.
On a good day, Aka will repair five pairs of shoes and earns on average around Rp.50,000 per day. “Last week was very good”, Aka said beaming, “I had a very good day and made Rp.100, 000. That was very good.”
Whatever extra money he earns goes to support his family, however, some days are not so good. He has had days where he does not earn any money. The tough part of his job is not being able to repair certain items. “Some customers get very angry”, he says. “I always try very hard to please my customers.”
Overall, Aka loves his job and he particularly likes the freedom of working for himself. He loves to chat to people as he goes on his rounds and always seems to have a smile on his face. He has been doing this job for five years and likes it a lot, more than his previous job, working in a factory.
So, next time you hear the call “Solbatu”, it will give you a greater understanding of these shoe repair men and the challenges they go through everyday.