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)

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Volunteers... PLWHAs... unwind!

Some people have been asking me what other things we volunteers do other than giving moral and emotional support to people living with HIV/Aids. Well I guess the stories I highlight in this blog so far are rather “heavy” – mainly on the moral, emotional and financial aspect of the lives of the PLWHAs.

So, how do we keep ourselves “sane”?

Well, we do let our hair down from time to time with our fellowship activities. We look for every excuse we can come up with to celebrate anything… NGO anniversary… centre anniversary… welcoming dinner for patron… year-end dinner… whatever!

But what I like most is our annual Family Day. This is the day when our NGO organizes a trip somewhere where the volunteers AND our PLWHA clients and their families can really enjoy ourselves. This way, not only the volunteers can loosen up a bit, but at the same time we can get the PLWHAs to feel as though they are part of us.

Last year we went to Teluk Batik. Before the big day, all the volunteers were required to invite their PLWHA clients. Of course not all could come, but the more the merrier. I remember inviting people like Jah and Shida who were all excited about the trip but Shida had to cancel last minute after she got involved in a minor accident.

But the hardest part for me was to get Ifa to go. No, not that she didn’t want to go and I forced her to. She really wanted to go, but because she had lost her father’s trust (due to her troubled teenage years), it was difficult for her to get the approval from her father. Her father didn’t really believe her when she said our NGO was organizing the trip. He thought she was just making excuses to “jumpa entah jantan mana”. So, her mother suggested that I (yes, yours truly) should meet the father personally to seek his permission to bring Ifa along for the trip.

Aiyyeee… from the stories I heard from Ifa and her mother, Ifa’s father is so garangalamak

When the day came for me to meet Ifa’s father, my heart was going dup dap dup dap… but I tried to put on the most angelic face I could manage (I tried, okay?), and went on to seek his permission. I even promised him that I would personally fetch Ifa, her sister and her cousin from her sister’s house and that I’d send them back after the trip. Permission granted without much fuss. Visa approved… phew!! Laku jugak muka seposen aku ni…

The trip turned out great! Despite staying in Perak, it had been ages since I last visited Teluk Batik. So many things had changed… for the better! And that day we were extra lucky as the weather was just nice – not raining, not too hot… and the breeze was simply lovely!

Everybody, adults and children, enjoyed themselves – some swimming, some building sand castles, some strolling along the beach, some just lying down under the tree enjoying the scenery.

Later we held some games – mostly for the children, but the adults had a fair share too. We even had the “Musang & ayam” game where the adults became the musang and ibu ayam while the children became the anak-anak ayam. I was one of the musang… and my colleagues commented that I was the most aggressive musang around… the other musangs ran out of breath too early in the game (musang pencen maa…)

Even the public who were there (it was a public beach) seemed to enjoy themselves becoming our spectators. None of them knew there were PLWHAs amongst us. Even if they knew, I bet they wouldn’t be able to tell who was and who was not HIV positive.

The PLWHAs and their children had a great time… and the volunteers had a swell time letting their hair down! It was simply fantastic!

We organize the family day trip every year – and in the bus on the way back fromTeluk Batik, Jah was already asking me about the next trip…


Hi&Lo said...

Pi Bani,

Am so overwhelmed you enjoyed yourself with your co-workers and clients. You care for everyone. You didn't want anyone to be left out.

We need to celebrate to keep our sanity and to rejuvenate ourselves.

You are really a bright spark lighting up the world. Reading your blog already brightens me up that there are genuine caring people.

Pi Bani said...

Aduh... bright spark lighting up the world? Don't puji too much lah, nanti I terover kembang I forget how to work... :)

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Pi and Hi&Lo,

Hi&Lo, takpe puji Pi lagi. I memang nak dia makin kembang. She still has space. Go on then!

Pi...ha ha, just to have fun here. Kembang lah lagi cik adik sayang..LOL.

Pi Bani said...

K.Ruby... dengki betul lah you ni... ;)

Hi&Lo said...

Pi Bani,

When I checked your response, I wondered if I had overdone on you.

I always speak from my heart. Asians tend to be more reserved while Americans go overboard. The latter can be very lavish but the next minute they might forget you.

I celebrate little acts of kindness as something divine.

Pi Bani said...

I appreciate all your compliments and I have no doubt they were all sincere. Even if you puji me up to the sky you don't get anything from me... that's how sure I am about your sincerity.

It's just that I don't feel too comfortable with too much compliments - takut nanti I naik syok. Just want to make sure my 2 feet are firm on the ground and not floating in the air.. ;)

Just a simple thank you is enough to keep me going.