HABIBIE AFSYAH: Empowering himself and others
Twenty-four-year-old Habibie Afsyah has been doing all kinds of amazing things with only the use of a few fingers.
The man suffers from Becker’s muscular dystrophy, a degenerative genetic disorder that weakens the muscles. According to his mother, Endang Setyati, doctors spotted the disease when he was barely one year old, and since then his condition has been deteriorating. In the last few years, the man has become unable to move any parts of his body but the thumb and index fingers of his right hand.
Accompanying her son in a recent interview with The Jakarta Post, Endang said her son’s condition “will get worse as he gets older”.
Habibie didn’t appear sad listening to his mother speak about his health. The young boy seems to be used to it.
When asked what he has planned for the future, Habibie smiled and said, “I just want to have some fun.”
It looks like his physical disability has not stopped him from enjoying life nor prevented him from realizing his dreams.
In a wheelchair due to his illness, Habibie is a free-spirited and remarkable guy who operates an Internet telemarketing business and is on the front lines of philanthropic work to promote equality for the disabled.
The Post went to his office for the interview and found the man sitting in his wheelchair in front of five giant monitors actively clicking a mouse connected to an on-screen keyboard.
Habibie explained he needed the five monitors to allow him to review several websites simultaneously.
The guy is the brains behind the local websites www.rumah101.com and www.ponsel-quran.com, which he established between 2008 and 2009.
He has also been developing online marketing sites, which connect him with giant players like Google and Amazon, an achievement that has made him a successful figure in the business, earning him up to US$8,000 a month.
Habibie seems to have developed his business talent since he was little. He initiated his first business when he was still in elementary school, opening a video game rental business. Habibie may have been the richest among his friends at the time, the business earning him Rp 20,000 a month from renting the games and consoles that were actually given to him by his mother to fill his spare time.
“My mother gave me a Nintendo and PlayStation because my condition does not allow me to play outside,” he explained.
However, his business instinct told him to rent the consoles to earn additional cash.
From the games, he moved to computers. He originally wanted to become a graphic designer but he gave up as the profession required him to have use of his two hands.
It was his mother who introduced him to Internet marketing. Although Habibie had a rough start, suffering some losses, he finally found a way to turn everything around and reaped huge success from the business.
The man credited his success to his mother, who has supported him from the start.
“I do not have any idols. But if there is one, she has to be the one,” he said of her.
Responding to Habibie’s compliment, Endang said she only did what a mother should do.
“What a mother possesses is the spirit to fight for their children and we cannot give up whatever the conditions are. I just try to focus on his strengths, not his weaknesses, and I try to develop them,” Endang explained.
Her unconditional love and support for Habibie inspired him to write a book entitled Kelemahanku Adalah Kekuatanku (My Weakness is my Strength).
Yet, a good business sense and publishing a book were not enough. His disability inspired the man to fight for the rights of disabled people to have the same opportunities as others.
He founded the Habibie Afsyah Foundation in 2008 to motivate and inspire people with disabilities to develop their skills. Using the proceeds from Habibie’s business, the foundation organizes routine workshops and meetings to empower the disabled with new skills, mostly related to computers and technology.
“I want to set an example for others. If I can do it, surely everyone can,” he said.
Habibie and his mother also participated in the formation of the Indonesia Disabled Care Community that tries to raise awareness about the rights of the disabled. The organization is slated to be launched in the near future, Endang announced.
Not only that, Habibie is also busy joining other communities that share the same spirit to promote the rights of the disabled.
Habibie is actively involved in Jakarta Barrier Free Tourism, which encourages the government to provide accessible public facilities for the disabled.
All the works and his achievement in business and social work have made him a speaker in various forums. His name was recently mentioned on a list of this year’s candidates for the Danamon Award, which is given to an inspiring person that empowers others.
Underneath those amazing things that Habibie achieves with two fingers, he is still an ordinary young guy in his mid-twenties who likes going to the cinema and listening to music.
He keeps his hair following the current trend and listens to Christina Perri’s latest single “A Thousand Years”. Habibie seems to be enjoying his life, while continuously doing great stuff with only a few fingers.