The true story of an Indonesian widow's new life, selling the product that saved hers.
Living in a country without social security or welfare payments, an Indonesian widow with children often receives a one-way ticket to hardship and poverty.
Without her husband's salary, she has difficulty paying for her family's daily needs: food, education, housing. It is not uncommon for the children to drop out of school and start working menial jobs for low wages. Meanwhile, her friends and neighbours may start viewing her with suspicion, believing she might be about to steal their husbands.
However, the future is looking bright for one widow in Surabaya.
Lisdarohani Hidayat and her four children are able to maintain their comfortable lifestyle, thank to her late husband's earlier decision to purchase life insurance. (Sadly, her husband passed away with brain cancer six years ago).
Having experienced its benefits, Lisda has joined the industry as a saleswoman at a leading Indonesian insurer; she has won several prizes and incentives for her high sales and performance.
When asked, Lisda denies that her previous experience has made her a more "enthusiastic" or dedicated employee than her colleagues, nor does she share her life story with potential clients.
Lisda also does not understand why selling insurance is considered a dead end job or unreputable profession in some countries. As an example, while describing the life lessons he has learned, Matt Stone (co-creator of American cartoon South Park) once said:
All the dorks in high school go on to do great things, while all the really cool guys in high school are now ... insurance agents.
Perhaps in countries where there are welfare payments and less poverty, insurance is considered redundant or just less important.
Even so, Indonesians' uptake of insurance is still low compared to many of its regional neighbours. Lisda says it is a different point of view: many here still prefer tangible assets (e.g. property, car, Blackberry, iPad) and to display their wealth, rather than plan ahead for the future. Also, it is often considered to be the children's responsibility to support their parents as they grow old and retire. However, the increasing prosperity and size of Indonesia's middle class has given them more money to invest in other products, like insurance; the proportion of insured Indonesians is climbing steadily, she says.
While she does not wish other people to experience her loss, Lisda hopes that one day insurance will save the life of one of her clients, as it did hers.