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)

Sunday, 13 January 2008

House visits: Sponsorship assessment

When my NGO’s sponsorship committee set up the procedures for the application and approval for our Sponsorship for Education program, one of the requirements is that at least 2 members of the sponsorship committee must conduct a house visit to the homes of the children recommended for sponsorship to assess their situation. This is to ensure that the recommended families really deserve the sponsorship.

Well, we simply couldn’t find the time to do the house visits earlier, and as such we couldn’t finalize the list in time before school reopened recently. But not to worry, we used up our Children Education Fund to cover for their initial needs. Well, we have almost used up our Children Education Fund; hopefully the sponsorship money can start coming in soon to enable us to reimburse the funds.

So today, 3 of us went to do the house visits for this purpose. I had yesterday already stuffed up my car with groceries for 4 different families to be brought along during this visit.

After picking up 2 fellow committee members at about 10 am, off we went heading south of Ipoh, to start off our visit. There’d be a few stops along the way, so we figured we might as well use the Federal road instead of the PLUS expressway.

First stop was Shila’s house. All 3 of us had been to Shila’s house so the visit wasn’t really necessary but other than being a formality, we thought we might as well just drop by since we were passing that way anyway. At the same time we could also deliver some groceries to the family. We called Shila just about 15 minutes before we reached her place to make sure she was in. Yes, she was in, and the moment her daughter Laila knew we were coming, she kelam-kabut had her bath…

Next stop was supposed to be Pushpa’s house. All three of us had never been to her house. By right, the buddy involved should accompany us for our house visits, but since Pushpa’s buddy was in KL, we just went ahead without her buddy. Pat, her buddy, had earlier given me directions verbally without giving me the actual address of the house. Frankly speaking, I too may not remember most of my clients addresses. Oh yes, I do know how to get to their homes, I just don’t remember their addresses…

Anyway, the problem with the visit to Pushpa’s house was that nobody answered the phone when we called. When Pat tried to call a few days earlier to inform Pushpa's guardians of our visit, there was no answer either. So, while we managed to find the housing area, we simply couldn’t find the house. Ask around? Well… yeah… that would be a good solution… but the problem was that Pushpa is an HIV positive orphan who stays with her grandmother and uncle – and believe it or not, we didn't know the uncle’s or grandmother’s name!! We tried to call Pat to get more info, but Pat didn’t answer her phone either.

So okay, never mind, since our phone calls went unanswered, probably nobody was home anyway. I will have to arrange for another visit when they are around, and this time, I’d better make sure Pushpa’s buddy is available to accompany us for the visit. At least now I know the housing area where Pushpa stays.

We moved on to our next stop – Hana’s house. I’ve been to Hana’s house once before, so I should know the way. Her house is not easy to find if just based on the address. I was lucky that during my earlier visit, Pat was around to show me the way, so this time, although not 100% confident; I managed to find her house without getting lost.

As we were climbing up the hill to get to Hana’s house, I heard her daughter shouting to her, “MAMAAA!!!” Hana was actually sleeping. It was about 11.30 am. Oh no, she’s not the type to wake up late. It was her sleeping time. You see, she so happen to be on night shift this week, so she has no choice but to sleep during the day time.

We didn’t stay long. After getting a few details from Hana and reimbursing her for the amount she had to fork out to pay for her children’s schooling needs, we headed on to our next destination – Valli’s house further south.

Valli is also under Pat, and again, none of us had been to her new place. And again, no proper addresses were given by Pat, just directions. But Valli had already been informed that we were coming and the low cost flats she stays in was quite easy to find. Nice place, I might add.

Although it was our first visit to the house, we had already met a few times earlier as Valli was one of our earlier clients and had been with us for some time already. Her boys had joined a few of our Family Day outings so we were already familiar to them.

The boys (14 and 12) had even wanted to prepare some drinks for us but we told them not to prepare anything. It was already lunch time by then and we were planning to have lunch outside right after that.

So after getting the boys’ details and reimbursing Valli for the amount she had already paid for their schooling needs, off we went for lunch. There’s one famous spot in that town people love to go to for lunch, so we thought of having lunch there. And yes, other than freshly cooked ikan bakar, there were lots of choices of lauk-pauk there.

There was one more house to go to, and although this house was the other way ie slightly north of Ipoh instead of south, we thought we might as well finish our visits one shot. So, yes, after lunch, we took the Plus Expressway and headed back to Ipoh before moving on to Fuzi’s house – the house I regularly go to on a monthly basis, so of course there was no problem at all finding her house. I am Fuzi’s buddy, so the visit was just to ensure that 2 other committee members had visited and assessed her family. Both my colleagues thought that amongst the families visited today, Fuzi’s family was the one most deserving help.

But we’re approving the sponsorship for all the families visited today anyway. While people like Hana and Valli have jobs, their income may just be enough for their household needs.

So yes, we went to 5 different places today but only managed to visit 4 families. We started our visit at 10 am, and by the time I got home, it was 3 pm.

Total mileage = 178kms

Quite a day I must say, and I am pretty amazed that despite having to be the “driver” for today, I am not at all exhausted.

At least now I feel a bit relieved that the house visits are done! (ok, except maybe to Pushpa’s house, but just one more to go… not too bad lah)


winniethepooh said...

that is some achivement Pi Bani :)at least u hv a sense of direction, my friends alway say I have no sense of direction hehehe if i ever say go right, u better go left! tats what they said :P

Akmal said...

Kak Pi,
I am not going to say anything, just want to give you my salute.
Welldone kak pi.

jaflam said...

Pi Bani,
I see that you have a very fulfilling Sunday visiting and helping the unfortunates, great job Pi, I am sure more energy will flow into you to carry on with your good deeds.

One of my Indian friend who professed Indian Fung Sui ( Vasu Sastra ) travelled all over the country and abroad giving talks on the arts of happiness & peace for free. I did asked him where did he got the energy to do all that and fulfil his job as Editor of one of the main paper??? He said it was a divine energy ... helping him to move on with his peace and happiness message to the people.

Take care and all the best for 2008 Pi B.

kina said...

Kak Pi,
I can hardly imagine you doing the groceries for so many families, I yang buat for my own pun, naik penuh troli each time ( penuh with all the nonsense stuff that I tot I need, kekekekeee)

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

eh, but this home-wisit thing sounds fun la, especially on sunday morning driving around with your buddies.

*usually on sunday i'll be having my weekly dosage of nasi daun pisang.

Pi Bani said...

In that case, if coming from you, I'd rather insist on the address instead of just getting verbal directions!! Sure sesat one... :)

Pi Bani said...

Benda ni if you put your heart in it, seronok sebenarnya!

Pi Bani said...

The energy will flow if we're doing something we enjoy doing. It's when we do something macam terpaksa aje that we get easily tired lah... stressed lah... Most of the time when I get stressed, it's not because of my voluntary work, but because of my office work!

Pi Bani said...

Sebab trolley asyik penuhlah I have to go for grocery shopping entah berapa kali sebulan! Especially kalau kena beli baby's needs lagilah pulak, baru beli diapers and susu dah penuh dah trolley tu... belum beli benda lain lagi.

Pi Bani said...

Yes it can be fun actually. I always like the idea of going to new places which I have never been to before. Ever since I joined Buddies I've travelled to many places in Perak... even the ulu-ulu & ceruk-ceruk ones. And with fellow buddies joining, the more fun it is because even if I sesat, ada kawan sama-sama sesat!!

PrincessJournals said...

i wonder if theres such a thing like mapquest or if gps unit works in Msia? my frens bot a gps unit here but i forgot to ask if they can use it in Msia. it wud be nice/useful if theres any reliable mapquest to be used in Msia.

Pi Bani said...

Yes GPS works here, but since I've never used it before I don't know if the map covers the small kampongs in small towns.

Ada sekali tu my nephew used GPS to go somewhere in Klang Valley lah. Ikut punya ikut... masuk jalan mati... hehehe. Actually dulu memang boleh ikut jalan tu, but now jalan tu dah tutup. Tak update map lah tu!

Rita Ho said...

Pi ... when I read your posts, your words actually plays out the scene in my mind. It's like watching a movie, a good one. :)

Are you allowed to bring guests along when you meet or visit your clients? I think it would be an amazing experience.

Great job, Pi!

Rita Ho said...

Pi ... I forgot to add that your nephew's experience confirms the delimma of GPS suppliers here. They can't get any updated road maps for Malaysia. I remember seeing new editions of maps every year at MPH or Times. You would think they can use those or don't tell me they just changed the date of those prints? Sigh.

Pi Bani said...

Due to confidentiality, we are not allowed to bring guests for our house visits. Only volunteers are allowed. Unless in certain cases where the PLWHA themselves don't mind, then maybe boleh consider.

About the GPS, I think my brother did mention about updating the GPS map every how many months entah I can't remember. Problem is, get updated map, then suddenly this jalan tutup, that jalan tutup... and get back to square one! I think for the time being, I'll stick to the conventional way - ASK AROUND!

Rita Ho said...

Pi ... The "no guests" rule makes absolute sense. Blurry me. :(

We will be getting the Malaysian maps for my trip home later this year, so let's see how updated they are. Not holding my breathe because the maps are printed in Taiwan of all places! I also prefer to ask around for directions but often get people who send me the wrong way because they are shy to admit they don't know and just guess! Headache!

Pi Bani said...

Maybe you asked for directions from people like Winnie - when she says go right, you'd better go left!! ;)

Rita Ho said...

Pi ... Winnie is a gem compared to one of my sisters. She would say right but her hand will point left. It is a nightmare when she has to navigate. Her husband has resorted to screaming, "KANAN ke KIRI??" these days.

winniethepooh said...

hahaha Pi bani, yup yup, so thats y whenever they ask for direction, i will refer them to the maps or tell them the actual address, asl them to look up the map themselves. Me not shy to admit i dunnoe where is NSEW, not nice to make people go goose chasing heheeh ;)