THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Activities for the past few days

Saturday 21st May: I was in Kg Suak Petai, Manong for another freemarket. This being our 3rd freemarket, we thought we were all prepared. What we didn't prepare for, was the rain. It started raining after we had arranged the clothes, on hangers by the side of the tent. We had to quickly take them all down before the clothes got wet.

But overall things still turned out well. We managed to rearrange the items to be closer to the center of the tent, and the turnout by the kampong-folks, despite the rain, was overwhelming. Most of the items on display were taken!

Sunday, 22nd May: I was at the Kandu in Gopeng, witnessing the remarkable results of a remarkable programme called "Program Memperkasa" by Yayasan Kampar to improve English among children in Kampar district. A particular project, Reading by Moms, had been chosen for a special presentation during the coming MELTA International Conference at the end of this month. The event I attended on Sunday was some sort of a competition, where the kids, from as young as 5 years old, all to way to late teens, doing story-telling, poem-recital, and singing.... all in English. And these are kampong kids. What's so special about the project is, the moms, the kampong-folks, are trained to read to their children. I must say I was truly impressed by them, not only because of their command of English, but also by their level of confidence performing in English! Truly awesome.

Monday, 23rd May: I decided to visit a client, Aziah, whose son was offered a place for a 3 year diploma course at a college. After seeing the list of total fees for the 3 years, my client was on the verge of telling her son to turn down the offer as she couldn't afford it. This being her first experience, she wasn't well informed of PTPTN and/or other study loans. My explanation via phone earlier wasn't convincing enough I suppose. It is always easier to explain things face to face. I went prepared with all the info, all printed in black and white for her reference.

Aini called while I was driving at the highway. I told her I'd call her back as although I was on handsfree, I didn't want to be listening to people's problems while driving. And when I did call her back, she was complaining about getting billed for things that usually she never had to pay for. You see, since she has to go for dialysis every other day, the ID clinic arranged for her to get her blood test done at the dialysis unit to make things easier for her. According to Aini, she ended up getting billed for the service. I told her to either call the ID clinic and ask, or if she really wants to me to ask, she'd have to wait until my next duty at the hospital.

When I got home, I saw a text message from another client, Syaz, who told me she was feeling stressed. I immediately called her, and the moment she answered my call, she started crying. She told me she couldn't talk because she was at her parent's house, and she didn't want her parents to hear. I told her I'd call her later in the evening when she gets home.

So later in the evening, I called again. And again, she cried. When I asked her what was upsetting her, she kept on saying, "Takde apa." When I did finally get her to open up, it was very difficult to unstand what she was saying because she was crying while talking. All I could manage to figure out was that it had something to do with her husband. I thought it would be easier if I could meet her face to face rather than listening to her on the phone, but for the moment during daytime, she'd be at her parent's home to help take care of her father who was recently involved in a road accident. Since her appointment at HRPB is in early June, I told her I'd try to meet up with her then.

I sure hope she's taking her ARV regularly and on time. All the stress, the worrying and the crying are definitely not good for her pregnancy.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Free deliveries of free market items

Usually I’d be visiting Dahlia & her children (and not forgetting her 1 year old grandchild) after my clinic duty in Taiping Hospital. However, since last month, the Taiping ID clinic roster had been rescheduled and so now we only send our volunteers there once a month instead of twice a month. With 2 teams of volunteers available, each team will only need to go to Taiping once in 2 months. So I did not visit Dahlia & her kids at the end of April.

I am also now involved in the monthly free market organised by Pertubuhan Wanita Prihatin Perak (PWPP) at different venues around Perak. My task mainly is to collect items, used or new, from contributors, mainly my friends staying in Klang Valley. I usually collect them from my friends whenever I drive south, instead of taking the ETS. I have been collecting a whole load of clothes, shoes, bags, books and some other items for the past 2 weekends.

Since I missed visiting Dahlia’s family last month, and my next clinic duty in Taiping will only be in early June, I figured I might as well visit them without waiting for my Taiping clinic duty. And since I do have a whole collection of various items with me at home, I figured I might as well bring some of these items with me so that Dahlia and her children can choose whatever items they want for themselves. The items are after all, to be given free, so I might as well give some to the poor PLHIV families under me.

So after loading my car with a big bag of shoes, 2 bags of clothes, a plastic bag of headscarves, and a bag of assorted bags (and those aren’t even half of all the items I collected), off I went to visit Dahlia and family. Her 2 younger kids were waving to me from the door the moment they heard me arrive. They wanted to help me carry the bags down from my car, but alas, the bags were just too big and heavy for them.

Dahlia did manage to choose some t-shirts, bags and headscarves for herself and her kids, but most of the shoes were not the right sizes for them. Dahlia only managed to get a pair of shoes for herself and another pair for her 10 year old daughter. The bigger clothes/shoes were too small for her older kids while the smaller clothes/shoes were too big for her younger kids. Hopefully in future I will be able to collect more stuff for age range 3-6 years.

I didn’t get to see Adila and her baby when I was at Dahlia’s house. The baby was sleeping upstairs, while Adila was in her room, under protest. Apparently they had some sort of crisis at home, and Adila was somewhat upset that she couldn’t get so many things that her friends had. She even threatened to go stay with her father (Dahlia’s first husband divorced many years ago). She probably thinks she can lead an easier life with her father. The problem is, her father himself is dependent on his mother (Adila’s grandma) to support him. He doesn’t even have a job and once even borrowed from an Ah Long to supposedly start a business… which never worked out, and the Ah Long had his men chasing Adila’s father at home. Certainly not the kind of environment Dahlia wants her children to live in. Dahlia may be poor, but at least she doesn’t go around borrowing money from other people.

I do hope Adila will come to her senses soon. My main worry is, it was money that lured her to follow her boyfriend before, when she ended up getting raped. She’s such a bright girl, and in certain circumstances a mature girl too. But she is still young and can also get easily influenced by friends living a more luxurious life.

After leaving Dahlia’s house, I called Fuzi to make sure she was home. I used to visit her on monthly basis, delivering groceries and checking on them. But their lives had improved a lot, and so I reduced my visits as I do not want them to be dependent on me.

When I got to her house, her youngest son, Iwan, now 11 (and still not schooling because of citizenship issues) opened the door. Fuzi’s second daughter then came out to invite me in, telling me that her mother was having a bath (Fuzi just came back from a nearby vegetable farm where she works on daily pay basis). Fuzi’s eldest is in a public university, taking up accounting. The second daughter just sat for her STPM last year and when I asked how she fared for her exams, she just smiled and said, “Bolehlah…” While waiting for results of her applications for further studies, she now works temporarily. But today is her off day and so she was home.

And guess what? Fuzi’s second daughter was the one who managed to get the most from the various items I brought along with me, mainly pants/slacks which she can wear for work.

Anyway, I was surprised when the girl who came out to serve me drinks didn’t look familiar at all. Fuzi then introduced the girl as “Kawannya si Hafiz”. Remember Hafiz? Fuzi’s problematic son who always ended up with all sorts of problems at school and didn’t even sit for his SPM last year because he stopped schooling at form 4. Moving from one job to another, finally a more trustworthy friend offered him a job in another state, away from his usual friends. So far he seems to settle down well with this job. Hopefully it will last. Wah… dah ada girlfriend some more

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Freemarket at Kg Changkat Tin, Tanjung Tualang, Perak

After the launch of our first freemarket in Chendrong, Batu Gajah last month, this month Pertubuhan Wanita Prihatin Perak (PWPP) is better prepared for our second freemarket, this time at Kg Changkat Tin, Tanjung Tualang on Saturday, 23rd April 2016. This was actually a special request by the Ketua Kampong, as they were organising some events of their own on that day, and when they heard of last month's freemarket in Batu Gajah, they sought our favor to organise one at their place as well.

This time around, I had to pass some of my collections to a few other volunteers because I had double than what I collected last month and so I couldn't carry them all in my car in one trip. Since we had our first AGM on Thursday 21st April, I took the opportunity to pass a carload of items to a few other volunteers who attended the AGM. Once I emptied my car of the first load, I managed to load the balance of the items into my car for the trip to Tanjung Tualang.

The place is further from Ipoh than the last freemarket. I left home a few minutes after 7 am, and by the time I reached the place, it was already busy with activities by the kampong folks. The freemarket stall was still empty though, and so as soon as a few other volunteers arrived, we immediately started to set up the place. This time we had a load of various items to choose from... clothes, books, shoes, handbags, cushion covers, toys, sejadah, flowers, a few pillows and even a carpet. It was heartening to see the kampong folks choosing the items for themselves and their family members at home.

As for the food items, we saved them for last. This time we made sure only those who queued up would be given a food item. Since we had a limited number of each item (rice, cooking oil, flour, sugar and biscuits), we only allowed them to choose one item. As expected, rice was the first item to be grabbed, followed by cooking oil, sugar, biscuits and flour.

Once freemarket was over, and while a few of our volunteers started packing up, a few of us went to visit 2 poor families living in the kampong. We handed over some contributions as well, including pillows, comforters and rice.

All in all, it was a successful outing. And with the women-folks of the kampong setting up a Kelab Wanita Prihatin of their own, whatever balance of items we had (mostly clothes because we managed to collect a whole load of clothes from donors), we packed the items nicely in boxes and left them with the club so they can use in their own future activities.

I am all set to collect more items for future freemarkets in other venues in Perak. Would YOU like to contribute anything?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Visiting the Orang Asli lady

While I was running some errands in Ipoh on Tuesday, a call came in from a doctor (FMS) who covers Sg Siput area. He called me a few years ago to seek help for a HIV patient of his, who's also an Orang Asli (OA). So I went to the clinic, and after discussing the case with him, he got a nurse to accompany me to the lady's house. But since it was difficult to get this lady to cooperate, added to the fact that she didn't have a phone, I had trouble following up on this case.

So when the good doctor called me again on Tuesday to seek my help for the same case, I knew it was probably because the situation was getting more desperate. Apparently this lady just underwent a surgery recently, is a bit more willing to talk, and has a whole lot of problems. Since today I had to go to Taiping Hospital for clinic duty, I decided I might as well drop by Sg Siput on my way back. Although the clinic I needed to go to was quite a distance from Sg Siput town, it was still more cost effective going on the same day as my Taiping duty.

The doctor himself was not on duty today at that particular clinic, he informed the nurse (the same nurse who accompanied me a few years ago) to liaise with me. Once I reached the clinic, 2 nurses met up with me, asked if I wanted them to accompany me to the OA's home. Of course I wanted them to accompany me... it had been some time since my last visit, and the kampong is further in and quite a distance from the clinic. Besides, the OA lady is more familiar with the nurses, and so I wanted her to feel more comfortable in the presence of familiar faces.

The moment I parked my car by the roadside near the OA's house, the nurses commented, "Hah, adalah tu kat rumah, tingkap buka!" We had to walk up a slightly hilly area. Her 18 year old son was sleeping, covered himself with a blanket despite it being a hot day. Probably because of the presence of a lot of mosquitos. I slapped myself quite a number of times today because of the mosquitos.

The house was previously owned by her late 1st husband. Before the husband died, he told his good friend to take care of his wife in case anything happened to him. After the 1st husband died, and after the end of the lady's iddah, the good friend took the OA lady (both 1st and 2nd husbands are not OAs) as his second wife. The OA got pregnant, was found to be HIV+, and when all her children got tested, her eldest son, now 18, was also found to be HIV+. The boy however, refused to get treatment, and simply ran away whenever the staff from KK went to visit them at home, trying to coax him to go for treatment.

The husband now no longer cares about the OA. He took their child (now 5) to stay with him, and wouldn't even let her visit the boy. Only when the boy cries and ask for his mother, then only he'd bring the boy to the house, drops him off there before coming to pick him up again. He however never really divorced her. He just told her that he'd never return to that house again, and in fact told her to get out of the house and go live elsewhere. Apparently, he had sold the land to his relatives staying in the same kampong. Now even his relatives who bought the land are pestering the OA lady to move out.
As for the 18 year old boy, he does odd jobs to earn some income. Sometimes he'd get paid helping to paint houses, sometimes he'd help his friend sell burgers. He has a motorbike bought under his friend's name, because he himself doesn't have a license. All the while he had been riding the motorbike without a licence. Why? Because neither he nor his mother could afford to pay for him to sign up for lessons/test.

Anyway, before this OA lady can apply for assistance from various agencies, her status needs to be cleared first. She is a single mother but on paper she's still somebody's wife. And when you apply for assistance from these agencies, it's the black & white status that counts. So first thing we need to help her out with is to bring her to Pejabat Agama to file for a divorce. When we spoke to her today, she's willing to do that provided somebody can bring her to the Pejabat Agama.

Next, is to find her another place she can stay without having anyone telling her to move out. One option is to find her an affordable house to rent, and apply for help from Baitulmal to pay for her monthly rental. Another option is to apply for one of the PPRT houses meant for Orang Asli like her. In both cases however, we'd need to get her divorce to be formalised.

I'm also hoping to arrange for her son to get a motorbike license so that we don't have to worry about him being caught by the police for riding a motorbike without a license.

The OA is still recuperating from her surgery, so we'd probably give her some time before we bring her to the Pejabat Agama.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get donations from friends to help her out while waiting for her divorce papers to be finalised.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Sambutan Hari TB, Diabetes & AIDS Peringkat Negeri Perak

Saturday 2nd April 2016 - As early as 6.20 am, I had already left home, heading to the town of Parit Buntar for this event. Buddies of Ipoh had been invited to set up an exhibition booth during the event, and I was personally invited to be one of the panelists for a forum held in conjunction with the event. Since the event was held in Parit Buntar, I had earlier decided to use the services of 2 of our northern volunteers to man (ermm... I mean woman) our booth, since I'd be busy with the forum. Besides, I felt it wasn't too practical to bring along volunteers from Ipoh with me for 2 reasons: (1) My car was loaded with the exhibition materials, and so only the front passenger seat was left available. (2) Having to make a move so early in the morning, I wasn't too confident the other volunteers in Ipoh would be as punctual as I want them to be.

While my GPS suggested that I used the Bandar Baru exit, I instead exited the Taiping Utara/Kamunting exit, to fetch a volunteer from Kamunting. She waited for me at the Taiping Utara toll area, and so I didn't even have to go out of my way to fetch her. From then on we used the old trunk road to head to Parit Buntar.

The day before, the moderator of the forum sent me a message to ask if I knew how to get to Dewan Kerian Permai, where the event was to be held. She offered to wait for me somewhere. I told her I'd just use my GPS to find my way, but I'd call her if the need arises.

Turned out we reached the place even before the moderator (who lives in Bagan Serai) and our other volunteer (who lives in Parit Buntar) did. It was only while we were setting up our booth did the Parit Buntar volunteer arrive.

The 2 volunteers at our booth.

 Meanwhile, I joined the forum panelists. They had a doctor as the moderator, and they had doctors to talk about TB and diabetes. And suddenly there's this makcik without any medical background to talk about HIV/AIDS. It would have been different if the whole forum was about HIV/AIDS and they had different panelists to talk about different aspects of HIV/AIDS. This time however, I was there representing the topic of HIV/AIDS as a whole. Needless to say, I was quite nervous at first in case someone bombarded me with a clinical related question. Thank goodness even the medical questions were general stuff I was able to answer.

After the forum, the Pengarah Kesihatan Negeri, Dato' Dr Hjh Juita Ghazali officiated the event, before she went round the exhibition booths.

 Introducing myself to Dato' Dr Juita. We had "met" on the Perak TKC Old Girls whatsapp group, but never met face to face, hence the introduction.

A photo at our booth with Dato' Dr Juita and Dr Puvanes.

The event ended at noon. Lunch of nasi ayam was provided by the organiser, all packed, and so after dismantling our exhibition materials, the 3 of us from Buddies had lunch at our booth, before loading all the materials into my car. We then went to a bicycle shop to buy a bicycle for a 10 year old girl (daughter of a client of mine who stays in the same district). I was unable to send the bicycle personally to the girl since there wasn't enough space in my car to load the bicycle, but the shopowner was kind enough to help deliver the bike to the girl.

After a short rest at the home of our Parit Buntar volunteer, it was time to head home. This time we decided to enter the expressway via Bandar Baru (which means we were actually in Kedah for a short while), exited Taiping Utara to drop off my Kamunting volunteer, and then made a u-turn to re-enter the expressway. All in all, I think the event was a success.