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, 8 December 2007

The HIV/AIDS Exhibition

When Community AIDS Service Penang (CASP) invited us to join them for an exhibition in Ipoh in conjunction with World AIDS Day, we simply couldn’t say no. I mean, if they were willing to come all the way from Penang to do the exhibition in Ipoh, we have no excuse whatsoever not to join them as we are based in Ipoh!

So yes, we joined them for the exhibition today at Kinta City. I volunteered to man (or should that be woman?) our booth during the first shift, so had to drop by our centre first to get our brochures and buntings. When I got to Kinta City, the CASP people were already there.

I’ve given talks at schools before, and I’ve also manned the HIV/AIDS booth at a university before. Students show a different kind of response to the kind of information we disseminate to them. It’s either they stop by to ask questions or they just walk by without showing any interest.

Today, we did our exhibition at a shopping complex, dealing with people from all walks of life. As our exhibition was at the entrance to the supermarket there, people who wanted to go to the supermarket would have to pass by our volunteers. And today, I saw all sorts of responses from the public to the kind of information we try to disseminate to them.

There were some, who’d politely take the brochures that we hand out to them, and then they just move on.

There were some, who showed more interest and asked us questions before they moved on. Some were kind enough to put some money into the donation box.

There was one guy, who never knew that a support group such as ours existed in Ipoh. He has some HIV+ friends who felt isolated and he himself admitted he never knew how to react whenever he met them. After our explanation, he felt much better and promised to get his HIV+ friends to contact us.

There was one boy, just about 7 or 8 years old, who proudly wore the red ribbon we handed out, and insisted he wanted our brochure so he could read it.

There was one young lady, who suddenly just stood there in front of me, whose face looked rather familiar. Aiyo… Daphne Ling leh… no wonder lah look familiar… ;)

On the contrary…

There was one guy, who was watching the powerpoint presentation prepared by CASP, when approached by a volunteer to be given a brochure, quickly said, “No! No! No!” and then he quickly walked off. He was probably afraid people may think he has HIV if he took any of the brochures or if he talked to any of us.

And then there were some, who didn’t dare come near when they saw the word HIV/AIDS. And particularly more, when the CASP volunteers wore posters which said, “I have HIV/AIDS. Will you hug me?”

Sorry, pics not clear. Taken using my handphone camera.

Actually the volunteers donning the above posters DON’T have HIV. They just wanted to show the public that there’s no harm coming near an HIV infected person.

There was one family, when approached by the volunteers, frantically said, “Jangan ganggu kami, jangan ganggu kami. Kami tak mau!”

One of the volunteers from Penang told us how during one exhibition elsewhere, one lady who had just finished shopping; was pushing a trolley full of goods. As she was leaving, she was approached by a volunteer carrying the HIV/AIDS poster. The moment she saw the volunteer, she actually RAN! And because she ran, she lost control of her trolley and everything just fell on the floor!

Just shows that many people are still THAT scared of HIV/AIDS.

And oh, I forgot… there was also one young guy, who came over to me, and asked, “Sini boleh bayar saman ka?”



U.Lee said...

Hello Pi Bani, enjoyed read this post. Yes, I can imagine some people apprehensive when see the words 'hiv' or 'aids'.
But its good to see Angels like you educating the public.
I think the press should play its part to educate the public.
I remember back in the 60's where they had that leprosy hospital in Sungei Buloh and where the patients grow and sell household plants.
My wife and I used to go there to buy ferns or flowers as cheap, not many people dare go there.
But when my friends heard I had visited that place, they practically dare not touch my hand, ha ha.
I bet you had a few smiles seeing these people.
But good for you, Pi Bani.
Best regards, Lee.

U.Lee said...

Hi Pi Bani, I da salah re above, not 'my wife', ha ha, with an SYT.
I think this snow and ice make me kelang kabote, or lintang pukang, ha ha. Lee.

PrincessJournals said...

Pi, i reserve my comment? :(
did daphne just stood there until u said something to her?

Pi Bani said...

I think the media has been trying to educate the public as well. But it is definitely not easy trying to change people's mindset.

Adoi... got mixed up between your wife and SYTs?? Ni sudah kes teruk!! ;)

Actually Daphne didn't expect to see me there and I didn't expect to see her there either - tu yang lambat sikit react when I saw her. When she saw the Buddy Bears which looked familiar to her, she came over, saw me, and so she stood there right in front of my nose lah until I said something!

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

dont mean to be too cruel to that lady but she deserved the fall. i thought it was bad enough the public to steer away from the volunteers but to run like your life is on the line is simply despicable. you are right after all, some people just dont READ.

Akmal said...

Aww MAAAN! there are still so many people out there with such reactions? And what with the saman thingy?
That all proven the fact that many of us don't take HIV/AIDS as an issue in their life. Apa, nak kena jangkit dulu baru mau sedar? Come on!
All the mass media out there did great with their effort to help with this issue. The problem right now is about the people; they choose ignorance.
Thanks for sharing.

ps. read a comment from arnold in my post.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Pi,

You forgot the hug! Darn...

Anyway, I was thinking of hugging the person wearing the card-thingy, but it was a guy, and I wasn't sure if the 'card-wearing', meant an open invitation to just hug, or was it figuratively speaking only...;)

winniethepooh said...

it is always interesting to see people's reaction..some well, just need more education and more time to slowly disperse their 'fear'. Its not easy but hopefully one day that will happen..

take care Pi Bani!

maria a samad (kak ton) said...

Hi Pi

So sad to know that the majority of Malaysians are still ignorant of HIV/AID.

I concur with Kerp. Serve that lady right. It'd have been better if she had fallen down on her face too. Baru padan muka!

Anonymous said...

tang nak bayar saman tu memang kelakar hehehehehe

kina said...

nak bayo saman? aper ke hei nye weh?

you must have looked like a fierce looking police woman, that the guy had to mengaku to bayo saman there, huh? kekekekeee

Now, I am more informed of HIV, I am not that scared anymore.

Like you said, it is not easy to educate the public after they had been bombarded with such negativity of HIV earlier.

Keep the excellente work Kak Pi...

Pi Bani said...

Some people do READ. They just simply refuse to ACCEPT.

Went to read your posting on HIV/AIDS. Good write-up. I guess some people would only take an interest in the subject bila dah kena batang hidung sendiri.

Pi Bani said...

It would have been quite a scene if you went to hug that guy, wouldn't it? Maybe after that we can get more guys to volunteer to wear those posters, with the hope of getting hugs from you. Hahaha!!

Hopefully, Winnie, hopefully. It will be a slow and long process but we just got to continue education the public.

Pi Bani said...

Oops Winnie, now my English also salah already. I meant educating the public!

Pi Bani said...

Kak Ton:
Padan muka, eh? Takut nanti dia fall flat on her face, injure herself; lepas tu gi saman pulak the volunteers for her injury.... people would do anything nowadays!

I can just assume that the guy didn't bother to read anything when he came to me. I should have just given him the HIV brochure lah. Terlupa nak bagi sebab tergamam...

Me? A fierce looking police woman? Agaknya rupa "prefect" I tak hilang-hilang lagi kot... :)

Nightwing said...

Oh come one man...until now ppl still like that?

I mean the government and the news print media already give information abt HIV/AIDS...i think another round should be done to educate this ppl.

So far the most famous person that i know off that has this disease is Magic Johnson of the LA LAKERS...NBA basketball player.

Rich and famous. When he caught it, he did not hide it, he study the options and did a press conference.

This was in 1991.. Most NBA players did not dare play with him when the news came out cause they were not educated about it.

So he retired from the game he love. And pursue with educating the public. He came out of retirement to play in the Olimpics in 1992 (first time team USA was consist of NBA players)...They were the original dream team...players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and other top guys.

He is now still doing well and continue the fight to educate the US public abt HIV.

Would any one think 'shall i hug him or shake his hand'?

I think most ppl will run to him.

Pi Bani said...

I'm not sure how it is in the US, maybe they are more open there. But here in Malaysia, although more and more people are beginning to understand, there are still MANY who don't or simply refuse to understand. No matter what people tell them, they won't change their minds. Very susah lah.

Zawi said...

Everything has to start somewhere and the first step is already taken so a follow through is the next course of action.
My humble guess is your booth is quite empty of visitors so anybody going there will feel conspicuos and fear that when they approach you they maybe labelled as one already infected with HIV which is still a stigma in our society.
Malaysians become brave when they are in numbers. Get volunteers to act as visitors and you will see more people will approach your booth.
I have seen this tactic being used by the roadside medicine seller to make his sale by planting a buyer among the crowd to make the initial purchase that will bring about the follow the herd mentality. Try ot out when you have the next opportunity.

Pi Bani said...

Actually we have enough problems getting volunteers to man the booth... how to get even more volunteers to act as visitors? :(

Rita Ho said...

Hey Pi ... firstly THANKS A MILLION for adding your wit and jovial spirit to my corner. I appreciate it very much. This is my first comment on your blog but I have been here countless times to read. Like others, I am awed by your kindness, dedication and willingness to help a community that is shunned by many.

As an event organiser for over 2 decades now, I believe that staging an exhibition is the most effective way of communicating with the masses. Whether the purpose is to sell, brand, trade, display or create awareness, the personal contact and physical aspects that exhibitions provide send the message directly across. However, many organizers fail because of ineffective delivery and presence on site. As a direct example, I feel that the CASP volunteers would have received a better response had their posters said, “I have HIV/AIDS, but it is OK to hug me.” The words are assuring and arouse curiosity rather than fear. "Will you hug me?" is somewhat begging with a hint of uncertainty and doubt.

Sharing a tip passed on by my mentors, Pi.

Kudos again on your admirable work!

Anom said...

salam kak pi..
you are doing a very good job in supporting the PLWHA. very commendable..

I'd just finished organising a workshop on training TV producers from the asia-pacific region on reporting on HIV and AIDS issues - focusing more on encouraging people to get tested - because we want to start campaigning towards the launch of International Testing Day -28 June next year.

From the workshop, one of the difficulties producers are facing is to get someone who is HIV+, living healthily and willing to appear on TV and tell his/her story. We totally understand the reason for the fear -- the stigma and discrimination is too huge for someone without any support to handle alone. But without a face, esp on TV, the message/s we are trying to get through doesn't have that much of an impact.

I was wondering K. Pi, whether you know anyone from your group or others who are positive and willing to appear on TV.
Or if you could email me where we could discuss this further offline, that would be great.


Pi Bani said...

In my own NGO, we've never done that "will you hug me" kind of poster. Most of the posters we used for exhibitions come from the Family Health Association, so most are the it is okay to do this and that kinda thing. CASP has had more experience than us when it comes to exhibitions, so I can't really comment much on that. But thanks for the tip. It may come in handy in future when we want to do our own posters!

Pi Bani said...

The PLWHA that I know of are mostly the poor who wouldn't want to appear on TV disclosing their HIV status. They have enough sufferings as it is.

I think MAC would have better contacts with PLWHAs who are willing to go public.

hunnybunny said...

Hi there, this is the first time I jumped into this blog. I really enjoy reading all sorts of stories a.k.a experience during your 'duty'. Sometimes it's very sad becoz our community still lack of knowledge and don't bother to ask about it. UNtil one day,"terkena batang hidung sendiri" then....baru tau...


Pi Bani said...

Errr... any relation to Peabunny? Hehehe...

Anyway sometimes it is not so much a case of lack of knowledge, but more of refusal to accept facts. People's mindset is the toughest to change.

Thanks for visiting hunnybunny... or shall I just call you hunny (honey)? ;)

hunnybunny said...

Hi Kak Pi,

Thanks for replying my comments. I've got nothing yo do with Peabunny. Who's peabunny anyway???

You can call me honey or hunny. Bunyi sama je. Actually, I have so many stories to tell you but is there any other way tht i can reach you (in personal)? Any Email add?? If any, please let me know ya...

Pi Bani said...

Peabunny tu pi bani lah! :)

Anyway, if you click on my profile you'd find my email address there. It's

hunnybunny said...

Hai Kak Pea :))

Sori la yek... tak perasan yang PEABUNNY tu Pi Bani....ha....ha...

Ok La Kak Pi I'll c u at yr yahoo....

Thanks a million (one in a million!!????)