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)

Friday, 9 March 2007

For The Future of The Children

Ever since I got involved in HIV related work, the thing that has bothered me most is the future of the infected and affected children.

The clients currently assigned to me involve a total of 29 children. Out of these, only 6 of them (from 2 families) are from average-income group. Both families involve fathers/step-fathers who are not HIV infected. The mothers got HIV from their earlier marriage and only found out about their HIV status when they got pregnant through their second marriage. The fathers/step-fathers can still work and support the family. [However, there are other issues the HIV+ wives need to deal with when their husbands are not infected... I will talk about that in a different posting.]

The other 23 children are from lower income or very poor families with uneducated single mothers, or, for those whose fathers are still around, the fathers are already too weak to work, or unable to get jobs because of their IVDU history.

The statistics given above are only from the small group of families who are assigned to me. Can you imagine how many other families out there who are facing the same problem?

So, how do these families survive?

Let me just give you a few examples from the families I'm handling.

Case 1:
Mr and Mrs A are both positive. In addition to HIV, Mr A also has some mental problems and had been admitted to Hospital Bahagia before. Mrs A worked as a cleaner in a school, but had to quit after she delivered a baby girl and her husband's condition worsened. The only source of income is the monthly financial aid of RM120 from the Welfare Department. Other than the baby, they also have 3 other children. The house is their family house, so no rental involved. But food, utilities, schooling needs, baby's needs (the mother cannot breastfeed the baby because of her HIV status), travelling expenses to hospital... with RM120 a month?

Case 2:
Mr K used to be a drug addict (IVDU). He is now diagnosed HIV+ and has other health problems as well (TB, Hepatitis etc). Mrs K has been tested negative and works as a factory operator. Earlier on when Mr K was still on drugs, Mrs K was so desperate for money to feed her children and to pay for the household needs, she resorted to borrowing from an unlicensed money lender. Now the money lender keeps her bank book and her ATM card. Every month he'll take the interest amount and only gives her the balance of her pay. Her take home pay as indicated in her salary slip is only about RM330 per month. After deduction by the money lender, she'll get sometimes less than RM100 per month. With 4 children to feed (3 of whom are schooling), house rental of RM180 per month, utilities, school bus fares, travelling expenses to hospital... you wonder how they survive. In this case, the eldest son is already thinking of quitting school for various reasons. One reason is he always get scolded by the school teacher for not paying his fees and for always missing school (he missed school quite a lot last year because they couldn't afford to pay for bus fares). The other reason is he wants to work to help lessen the family's financial burden.

Case 3:
Fuzi is an Indonesian citizen. She married a Malaysian but has yet to obtain PR status. Her husband died 2 years ago. After her husband died, someone broke into her house and raped her. As a result, she got pregnant... and HIV. The whole neighbourhood knows about her HIV status and her illegitimate child. She couldn't get a job anywhere in the neighbourhood due to her HIV status. She couldn't work outside the neighbourhood either as there'll be nobody taking care of her baby (and I must tell you the baby is soooooo adorable!!). She doesn't have to pay for rental as the house she's staying in belonged to her late husband. Other than the baby, she has 4 other children to take care of. Without any source of income, how is she supposed to survive?

There are other similar situations amongst other HIV affected families. Mostly because the husbands got involved in drugs. Some people may say, serve them right for getting involved in drugs in the first place. But are we to penalise the whole family for what the husband/father had done? Are we to just look and not do anything to help the family, especially the children?

We (my NGO) have been trying our best to source funds for these families. We help them apply for MAC's Paediatric Aid Funds, we help them apply for Welfare Dept's financial aid and whatever other financial sources available.

But the most important thing, to me, is the children's education. The least we can do is to ensure the children gets at least basic education!

That's why my NGO came up with our Children Education Fund (CEF) to cover for the children's basic schooling needs. The children must continue schooling! But the CEF alone is not enough. It only covers basic schooling needs. There are many other things the children need.

At the moment we are also in the process of coming up with some guidelines and procedures for a Children Education Sponsorship Programme. Through this programme we hope to be able to get willing individuals to sponsor each needy child until they finish schooling. Hopefully we will be able to finalise things soon and get the ball rolling.

If any of you readers out there have any suggestions on how else we can help these children, by all means, please tell us what's in your mind.

Come on people... let's work on this together... FOR THE FUTURE OF THE CHILDREN!


Naa said...

hi k.pi,

i am proud to have interacted with someone like u ( mostly, me sending emails to u asking for help.. :)) .
the things u'r doing for the hiv patients are really great indeed. do u have an account for other people to send in their contributions or donations.. i may not have loads of i don't think i can adopt a child ( yet), but i think i can still share the small portion of what i have with these people. a maybank account would be nice... knowing that u r in charge.. i am sure the donations and contributions will go safely to the persons in need.

Pi Bani said...

Can you please email me personally? You know how to reach me, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Pi,
You are tireless....I sincerely salute/respect/admire your good-heart.... and the stamina that you've put into all these 'special' works (and I know that the HIV patients are not the only voluntary works you undertake!). If only I could do a fraction of what you do, that'd be a good enuff start for me.Keep up the great work, Pi.
Neme Dxb

david santos said...

Hello, pi bani!
this work is very good, thank you
have nice wkend

Pi Bani said...

When you get to meet the unfortunate and see for yourself their sufferings, YOU too wouldn't have the heart to leave them be. For I know you too have a good heart.

Ah David... the poet from Portugal! Judging from the English poem you wrote, you must be a kind-hearted soul! Thanks for dropping by. (I wish I could understands all the other poems you wrote in Portuguese...)