It had been quite a while since I was last assigned to unwed pregnancy cases. I still remember sending Zana to a shelter home in KL just a few days after she admitted to me that she was pregnant.
Then there was Sharifah, a student at a private college in Ipoh. Since her parents lived outside of Perak, when things didn’t turn out as planned, I had to send her to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning (I received her emergency call at about 2.30 am) to deliver.
This time however, it’s a totally different scenario. I have not been assigned to a new case of an unwed pregnant HIV+ girl like the previous cases. If you remember earlier in March this year, I received a message from an HIV+ lady, Dahlia, seeking help. Dahlia got my number from someone else who thought I’d be the right person to approach for HIV cases. True enough, I not only had to help her out financially, I also had to help arrange to get her an appointment at the hospital and get proper HIV treatment.
Dahlia is a single mother taking care of 6 children from her failed marriages.
No, the unwed pregnancy case I’m talking about this time is not about Dahlia. And the pregnant girl is not even HIV+. But this story is still about Dahlia’s family. Meaning to say, more burden on Dahlia’s shoulders.
You see, the pregnant girl is Dahlia’s 15 year old daughter. She was raped by a 20 year old boy, a former student of the same school. Apparently he lured the girl with money, taking her out to have some fun. Things that Dahlia herself could not afford to give her kids. Dahlia did not have any earlier knowledge about this boy since her daughter would actually go out with a female classmate of hers.
When the girl was initially raped, she did not inform her mother about it. It was only later when she became more rebellious, and at one time even tried to run away from home, that Dahlia figured something was wrong. When finally the girl told her the truth about being raped, Dahlia immediately brought her to get tested, and sure enough, the girl was found to be pregnant.
Police reports were made, and since the girl is underage, JKM too got involved. Dahlia is adamant that she will take care of her soon-to-be-born grandchild. That was what she told the JKM officers and that was what she told me today. The JKM will still closely monitor the case.
However, since the rape/pregnancy was known later, I suppose there is no proof to show that this particular boy was the actual culprit. While the boy had been remanded for questioning, they will have to wait until the girl delivers, after which a DNA test will be done to determine the biological father of the baby.
And guess what? The boy had the cheek to meet Dahlia at home, offering her some money, asking her to withdraw her police report on him. Despite being poor and at times desperately in need of money, Dahlia did not give in. Instead, she made another police report saying that the boy was harassing her to withdraw her earlier report.
For the moment the girl still goes to school. Her pregnancy is not quite visible yet to the naked eye and the girl will continue going to school at least until she completes her form 3 exams next month. She is due to deliver in early January. Hopefully she will deliver earlier during the school holidays, and then she can continue her schooling when school reopens next year. Dahlia plans to transfer her to another school by then.
My main concern is the girl’s future. It is however good to know that she is still doing okay at school. For the moment the girl doesn’t know that I already know about her pregnancy. I’m sure she’d feel uncomfortable if Dahlia told anyone about it, and I’m sure Dahlia herself doesn’t want people to know about it either. But Dahlia simply had to let things out of her system, and today she got the opportunity when I bumped into her at the hospital. She was there for her appointment and I was there for my clinic duty.
Whatever it is, Dahlia definitely needs more support from now on. I hope to be able to give her the needed moral support at least.
When a doctor from a klinik kesihatan called me a few weeks ago to refer a case to me, and asked when I would be free to visit, I purposely chose a date after our family day. Giving myself just a one day break, I told him I should be ok for Tuesday 9th September.
Family Day was over 2 days ago. And I totally forgot about my visit to the klinik kesihatan. Luckily a nurse called me up yesterday to confirm if I’d be coming.
So off I went this morning. Since I had never been to the area before, I had to depend on my old faithful GPS to show me the way. And since the place I was heading to was a klinik kesihatan, it was listed in my GPS. Frankly, if not for the GPS, I probably wouldn’t be too confident about driving to the place. The last 15km was a small winding road with palm estates on both sides of the road.
When I got to the place, first I had quite a lengthy discussion with the doctor and the nurse. I was informed that this patient of his, Siha, had started missing her appointments since June, giving all sorts of excuses. They then started sending her medications to her house. Even the doctor himself went to visit her at home, trying to coax her to continue going for her appointments, and to never miss her medication. But Siha eventually got fed-up with the visits. When the doctor or any of the nurses tried to talk to her, she’d just keep quite. Even when she talks, she’d just say a single word, just a yes or a no, or if her answers came in more than one word, it’d be “tak tau”.
Siha’s present marriage is actually her second marriage. She was infected by her first husband, an active IVDU when he was alive. One of her children from her first marriage had also been infected with HIV. The son, who is 19 this year, had been going for his appointments with the paediatrician earlier when he was younger, but the moment his appointments was transferred to the adult clinic, the boy started missing his appointments and stopped taking any medication.
Siha also has a 3 year old son from her present marriage. The boy has been confirmed to be negative. Apparently Siha is now the second wife of a hot-tempered guy who doesn’t even have a permanent job. From what I was told, Siha’s first husband, when he was still alive, told this 2nd husband to take care of Siha when he’s “gone”. The doctor suspects that Siha may be facing financial problems, especially since the husband actually depends on his first wife’s salary (the first wife has a job) for a living. Siha herself is actually an orang asli from a nearby kampong.
Anyway, when we first got to Siha’s house, the door and windows were closed. The condition of the house was quite bad, with quite a lot of the top part of the window panes missing, and the wooden window sills rotted. Before the nurse knocked on the door and gave the salam, initially she thought she heard someone’s voice inside. But the moment she knocked, whoever was talking suddenly became quiet. No matter how hard the nurse knocked or called out Siha’s name, there was no response. Obviously Siha didn’t want to open the door. I guess she didn’t want to listen to any more “lectures” as to why she shouldn’t miss her appointments or her medication.
After a while another nurse from the nearby klinik ibu & anak came. She had been following up with Siha and the 3 year old boy from day one and is already a familiar face/voice to the boy. So when the boy heard the 2nd nurse’s voice, he opened the window. He got a scolding from his mother for doing so. Anyway, with the boy opening the windows, we could see inside. It was just a small house anyway, and there was no way for Siha to hide anymore. Reluctantly, she opened the door. The moment I asked if I could go in, she told us, “Apa-apa cakap dengan suami saja!” It looked to me as though she was afraid her husband may scold her.
I told her I didn’t want to talk to her husband. I wanted to talk to her so I could determine what sort of help I could give her.
True enough, she didn’t talk much at first. But as I started to talk about her children’s education, she began to give more-than-one-word answers. When I asked if her 19 year old son (the hiv+ boy) was working, at first she didn’t say much. She just told me he was somewhere else sleeping. But the moment I asked if the boy would be interested to further his studies in a field he may be interested in, suddenly Siha’s face lit up. “Dia memang suka tengok buku”, replied Siha. That’s her way of saying that her son loves to study. The nurse who accompanied me was pleasantly surprised to see a smile on Siha’s face.
Looks like I managed to hit the right note. I didn’t want to go into her appointments or her medication. Not just yet. She seemed quite comfortable talking about her children’s educational needs, so that will be my main topic of discussion with her for the moment. Later, after I gain her trust, hopefully, I will slowly try to get into the other matters.
Siha promised to ask her son if he wanted to further his studies. When I left my number with her, at first she said she didn’t have any phone, then suddenly she remembered, “Eh, Hairul (her son) ada.” Unlike previously when she’d just ask the nurses to contact her husband if need be, this time, she seemed eager to get her son to contact us direct.
Siha also started talking about the problems at the house she’s staying in. Other than the poor external condition, it seems almost every electrical appliances at her house is no longer working. The only one working is the fluorescent light at the main area where we sat.
Hmmm… why hasn’t her husband been taking care of that I wonder…
When I arrived at Fuzi’s house yesterday morning to fetch the family and send Wina off to register for university, I got a shock seeing the load of stuff Wina wanted to bring along. My biggest worry was that they may not all fit into my Kenari, especially since Wina’s 3 younger siblings were coming along and I couldn’t use the back seats to put Wina’s stuff.
My first round of arranging the things at first didn’t work out, but after a retry, I finally managed to arrange all of Wina’s stuff into the car without having to ask any of the children to hold some of the things on their laps.
The 2 hour journey gave me the opportunity to find out more about the latest updates of Fuzi’s other children. So far the girls don’t seem to be much of a problem. But the boys… ahhh… a different story altogether.
Wina, the eldest daughter, had always been dependable. A very responsible girl, and respects her elders. She had always been good in her studies too, despite sometimes having to miss school to take care of her younger siblings at home whenever her mother had to go to the hospital.
Fuzi’s second, Didi, also a girl, is now doing form six. Her SPM result wasn’t too bad, however failing her English paper limited her options. However, it’s good to know that she is very much more hardworking than she ever was before.
Fuzi’s 3rd child, Hafiz, had been the most problematic since day one. He had been getting into all sorts of trouble ever since he was in primary school. Being called to school to meet with the school authorities was a norm for Fuzi. Earlier this year, together with a group of his friends, Hafiz got into a fight in school with another group of students. In the end, Fuzi was asked to transfer him to another school. Fuzi did. She enlisted him at a technical school, making him stay at the school hostel. After a while Hafiz ran away from the hostel, and so he is now no longer schooling. He is not staying at his parent’s home either. Instead, he is staying with a foster mother within the same kampong. Which was why he did not join us for yesterday’s trip to send Wina off to university.
Fuzi’s 4th, Ijam, the hiv+ boy. Doing average in school, but would be happy be skip school for whatever reason. Thank goodness Fuzi no longer has any problem giving him his HAART, like evident yesterday when he needed to take his medication in the car on our way back. Previously Fuzi had to force the medication down his throat. So far, except for his hiv, I don’t see any other problem with Ijam.
The youngest, Iwan, is 8 this year but is still unable to go to a proper school due to his citizenship status. For readers who hasn’t been following the story, Iwan was born out of a rape case (after Fuzi’s husband passed away), and so doesn’t have a father stated in his birth cert. With Fuzi still unable to get PR status, Iwan is considered a non-citizen/non-PR too like his mother, and so couldn’t be accepted at any of the government schools.
A Malaysian pair did offer to “adopt” Iwan (on paper only) to enable them to enlist him in a government school, and the application was initially approved, but a nosey neighbour, who had never liked Fuzi, reported the case to JPN and Welfare Dept. Officers from both agencies came to visit one night, and lo and behold, they found that the boy who was purportedly adopted by the couple, was still staying with Fuzi. The adoption was then revoked, and Iwan’s status is back to square one.
Fuzi did explain the whole situation to them, telling them she was only doing it to enable Iwan to go to school. They suggested to her that once Wina, the eldest daughter, who has Malaysian citizenship, turns 21 (she is 19 this year), then she can apply to adopt Iwan.
OK, so until then, Iwan doesn’t go to school?
When Wina, Fuzi’s eldest daughter, was offered a place at one of the local universities, I knew she’d need some initial financial help. No doubt she’d be able to apply for funds like PTPTN and the likes, but surely there are some other preparations needing money. With Fuzi depending on monthly welfare aid to support her family, I knew they wouldn’t have much to spare.
So yesterday I decided to pay them a visit to check on Wina’s preparations.
Thank goodness I decided to drop by. There were still so many necessities that she had not bought. Her shoes were all worn out. She needed to buy some other things as well. Although she had been working temporarily at a supermarket while waiting for the results of her UPU applications, she’ll only be getting her pay on the 30th. She needs to register at the university on the 1st. If she has to wait for her pay to be banked into her account, she can only start buying her things on the 31st.
In addition, she needs to bank in some registration fees into a bank account specified by the university, and to bring along the bank-in slip on registration day. She needs money for that too.
Seeing that she had not bought most of her necessities, I told them I’d bring them shopping there and then. Wina was caught by surprise, asking if I was serious. Of course I was serious lah…
So off I took them shopping. She needed shoes, luggage bag, a small back pack for her to use to class, some stationeries and some clothes she can wear to class.
While shopping Fuzi told me that the usual “kereta sapu” she used to hire to go anywhere with her family whenever needed, was repossessed by the bank as the owner had not been paying his instalments. Which means Fuzi can’t hire the same car to send Wina for the registration. She had been asking around for others who may be willing, but all of those asked, were only willing if Fuzi would pay triple of what she used to pay to the earlier guy. So Fuzi sought my help if I could arrange for some kind of transport.
Hmmm… while I had a few children from our education sponsorship program who had already registered at various higher learning institutions earlier, all of them had some sort of transport (uncles or other relatives). So I had never personally sent off any of these children when they registered for higher learning.
Considering I’m free this coming Monday, I figured why not take the opportunity to personally send Wina for her registration. I already had the satisfaction of knowing she was offered a place, how much more satisfactory can it get seeing for myself one of our sponsored children registering at the university?
There’s always a first time for everything.