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)

Monday, 7 January 2008

2007 takeaways: My take

Zawi of Life As I See It tagged me. I’m supposed to write about 3 takeaways for 2007.

3 takeaways? Here goes…

1. KFC
2. McDonalds
3. Pizza Hut

Betul lah kan?! I went into the respective fast food outlets, ordered some food to bring along when I visit the PLWHA families, and when asked if I wanted to eat in or take away, I said “TAKEAWAY”!

Huh? That’s not the takeaway I’m supposed to write about? Aiseh… and I thought I had just finished doing the tag!

Anyway, I was tagged supposedly because Zawi’s instincts (oh really?) told him I’d have many things to share.

Well, the stories in my blog may indicate I have many things to share, but if all I can talk about is the stories of the PLWHA families and the lessons learnt from them, then isn’t that considered as ONE takeaway? Darn, I still prefer the fast food takeaways lah!

Here comes my attempt:

No. 1: BLOGGING: When and why?

2007 was the year when I started my blog. Although I was introduced to blogging earlier in 2005 when Kak Ruby asked for my favour to set up a blog, all I did was help set up the blog and that was it. I wasn’t interested to start a blog for myself as I didn’t really know what to blog about. At that time, I just got confirmed in my voluntary work and there were not many interesting stories to tell yet. Blog about myself? Naah… I never was the type to keep a personal diary, and creating a blog to tell of my personal stories was simply not me.

Somehow in 2006 more and more clients were assigned to me, with all sorts of interesting and complicated stories. The real life stories of the HIV infected/affected families really made me more thankful for the things that I have and don’t have in life.

By early 2007, it did occur to me that I should share these real life stories with others – not only to highlight the trials and tribulations of the PLWHAs, but also to create more awareness amongst readers.

But I still had my reservations. Many things played in my mind. Is it okay for me to tell their stories? Will they mind? What about the issue of confidentiality? Ah, in the first place, who would want to read my blog? Siapalah saya?!

It was only in March 2007 that I finally made up my mind to start a blog – with the intention to share stories of my PLWHA clients. My main rules were not to mention their real names and not to post their pictures. My first short “intro” posting on what this blog was all about was on 4th March 2007 followed by another short posting on how I started getting involved in this voluntary work. I informed my TKC old girls yahoogroup about this blog so that those interested to know more about the lives of the PLWHA families could visit the blog when they wish. No point posting the stories if nobody but myself was going to read them.

To my surprise, by the time I posted my 3rd posting on 6th March, which was also the first of my PLWHA stories, even a few Malaysian Aids Council people were already visiting my blog. Apparently, they had a meeting and MarinaM who was also in that meeting did some sort of a promo for me. Wow… without even checking to see first if the stories in my blog were worthy enough to be read, she went ahead to promote it. I sure hope I didn’t disappoint her!

During the 10 months in 2007 that I blogged, I had a total of 129 postings – most of them HIV related. There were only less than 10 postings that had nothing at all to do with HIV – particularly the tags which I dreaded so much. (Somehow in this particular tag I still get to write on HIV.)

Ahh… this blog is HIV related. So what? There are many HIV related websites out there, aren’t there? Probably better constructed too! But the difference between my blog and the other HIV related websites is that while other websites give HIV facts, figures and stats, my blog concentrate on the personal life stories of the HIV infected/affected people – just the way I see them – from my own hands on experience.

Hopefully through the stories that I highlight, people will understand more about the PLWHAs. Ah well, the gossip-like stories are far more interesting than the facts and stats, aren’t they?

No. 2: MY VOLUNTARY WORK: What Have I Achieved/Learnt?

Hmmm… somehow point 1 and 2 are inter-related although I put them under different headings. The reason for my no.1 2007 takeaway is my no. 2 takeaway – my voluntary work! If not for my voluntary work, I wouldn’t be able to know all the stories that I posted on my blog.

By 2007, I had handled even more PLWHA families with all sorts of different stories and different problems. Family problems, monetary problems, attitude problems, yep, even angau problems! Yes, being the person the PLWHAs talk to whenever they have problems can actually make my blood pressure rise, but the fact remains that I learn a lot of things from them. I learn to become a more grateful person. I learn that there are many unfortunate people out there much worse than me. I learn how lucky I am to be born into such a loving family as mine. I learn that it takes all kinds to make this world and we can’t apply the same solution to every person facing the same problem.

And I do get great satisfaction whenever I see any improvement in the life of the PLWHAs under my care. Of course, there are times when I get frustrated if they in turn change for the worse (like you know who lah…) but we can’t expect everything to go the way we want them to be, can we?

So, yes, while at times I may complain about feeling a bit stressed out, I am actually blessed to be involved in this voluntary work. No, never once did I regret becoming a volunteer.

No. 3: MY PERSONAL LIFE: Any improvement?

Frankly, there is not much difference in my personal life. Life had been just as routine as it was before. But after being involved in no. 1 (blogging) and no. 2 (voluntary work) above, I have more friends – my blog friends and my PLWHA friends. While I have not met most of my blog friends, their friendship mean a lot to me. And it touches me when even those who have not met me in real life, trust me enough to the extent of giving contributions to the poor families through me. Aren’t they afraid I may just be another scumbag?

Well, the expansion of the circle of friends that I have means I can learn a lot more about life. The more I get to learn about life, hopefully the more I will be able to improve myself.

And so the learning shall continue…

Oh, am I now supposed to tag 3 persons? Well, if you're reading this and you haven't been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged!


Zawi said...

Allow me the pleasure of posting the first comment. Splendid! That is all that I need to say as what you wrote explained itself.

Pi Bani said...

Post the first comment tak apa. Just don't give me another tag... :)

Nightwing said...

Ha Ha Kak Pi,

So funny...i remember u told me before no more tags for u. Then when i saw Pak Zawi tag u in his blog...i was thinking...this will be an interesing tag/post.

Nice one...:)

Mat Salo said...

Aduh! In the beginning I thought you were going to blow it-off altogether, but you relented. Bagus lah. Unlike me, sincerity (honesty?) is NOT my best policy. Case in point? See what happened to Sorhai Lek laaa. Wonder what's his 'tapao for 2007' ek?

I think you have found your calling and everyone here is just plain envious.

I know I am.

God Bless.. Salaam.

Pi Bani said...

Yes lah... tak nak tak nak kena jugak. But even during the earlier tag when I mentioned I hated tags, I had anticipated there'd be more tags coming...

Pi Bani said...

Mat Salo:
Itu Sorhai Lek sekalang sudah pencen maybe boleh start a blog and then you can tag him for this one???

Anyway, for this particular tag I could still write about HIV/AIDS - maybe not any particular story but more of my involvement in it. So tak lari dari topik biasalah.

C A T said...

hi kak Pi!im one of ur reader as well. been following ur stories lately and it has been a good insight to me. Proud of u sis!

more gossip in 2008 pls!hahahaha.

Pi Bani said...

Hey, welcome to my blog!

More gossip in 2008? Oh don't worry, there will be definitely!! ;)

Zawi said...

My promise is I wont tag you again unless I find one that I know you will love doing.
Anyway I have put in you first post in The Stories From Blogs for readers to start reading the whole story. No way I could just pick up one from the middle. I mention that it will be the beginning of a new book.
Let us pray that this is not just a dream but a reality one day.

jaflam said...

Thanks for sharing and you have done a great voluntary work on HIV. Personally I think those who are committed to voluntary work have different level of caliber. It’s easy to find someone who will work for money but very difficult to find those who will work for free. I have spent more then ten years as an active Council Member of a Professional Body and we serve for free to ensure the organization function and prosper. It’s tiring and frustrating at times but looking back it was my best contributions to my profession and the society.

Good job and sail away Pi Bani.

Akmal said...

Kak Pi,
You did yours too, and well done! Man, I guess I am the only one left.
I love your stories about your clients, and your life as a volunteer. Just keep on your blog. Kalau tak saya report kat MarinaM hahahahaha.
Keep well.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

i know i have learned alot that concerns HIV/AIDS from you. so you can say you've accomplished something in that department. thank you.

*there's still plenty to learn, with some qs are very sexual in nature. nak tanya bnyk2 takut kena lempang pulak. or worse, to be accused a pervert, or penyumbang leweng dalam bahasa melayu kita. discovered that from a subtitle.

Puteri said...

Zawi tagged me too, but I haven't done my tag! :-) Can't think of any good takeaways of 2007 except in the food genre! :-)

I enjoy your posts very much Pi, and have learnt a lot of what HIV infected people have to live through.
I am glad to took up blogging!

Pi Bani said...

You had problems finding a single story to choose, didn't you?

Beginning of a book? Adoii... besar cita-cita tu...

Pi Bani said...

You were the one who started off this tag, weren't you?

As for voluntary work, frankly, if I could afford it, I don't mind doing full time vountary work. It certainly gives me more self satisfaction. But no, for the moment I can't afford to do that. I need to cari makan too. I may not be rich in terms of money and materials, but janji hati senang...

Pi Bani said...

Nak report kat MarinaM if I stop blogging? Eleh... tak takut pun... ;)

Pi Bani said...

Nak tanya apa-apa, tanyalah... but I can't promise I'd be able to answer every single question. I bukannya expert benar bab HIV ni, still in the learning process.

I know many questions may be very sexual in nature especially menyentuh bab HIV ni. So no, I won't lempang you... (at the most pun I'd just whack your head off, hahaha!!!)

Penyumbang leweng???! First time I heard that...

Pi Bani said...

Go, go... do your tag! Susah-susah takeaways in the food genre pun bantai ajelah... ;)

I guess we all learn a lot from each other's blog, don't we? Hooray to blogs!!

silversarina said...


Tags ni okay jugak untuk muhasabah diri... selamat maal hijrah.

Pi Bani said...

Ha'ah lah, tag yang ni bolehlah untuk muhasabah diri. Yang I rimas sikit tu jenis yang lebih untuk mengorek rahsia peribadi... sampaikan hairbrush colour apa pun nak tau! ;)

Salam maal hijrah to you too!