It had been quite a while since HIV positive mothers with babies were referred to us Buddies. The most recent cases assigned to me were more than a year ago. The youngest of the toddlers is almost 2 years old, with others already over 2 years of age. All already running around.
Recently a colleague informed me that we may be getting a new case of mother and baby soon. Initially I was made to understand that the baby too is infected. It was an out of wedlock childbirth, so when I was told the baby was positive, I thought probably the mother did not go for proper checkups for her pregnancy. Apparently my colleague had assumed the baby was positive based on what he heard from someone else - without checking the facts.
Remember Anita, the young mother I mentioned in my last posting? Well, this is about her.
Anita is 22 years of age. She had an affair with a foreign worker, got pregnant and the foreign worker left her. Anita was then staying with her sister in another state. When the sister found out about her pregnancy, she was reluctant to let Anita stay with her. Anita was passed around from one sister to another, until finally the sister closest to her agreed to take care of her. The sister, already married, took in Anita to stay with her and took care of her throughout her pregnancy.
So yes, Anita did go for proper checkups at the hospital, and that was when she found out about her HIV infection. Necessary precautions were taken to minimise the chances of infection to the baby and so, no, the baby is NOT confirmed positive. The baby, a cute little boy, now 2 1/2 months old, is however under observation and blood tests will have to be done from time to time. I truly hope and believe the baby is spared from the virus.
The problem now is not about the baby being infected, but the fact that Anita has yet to get a birth cert for the baby. I was rather confused at first as to what the problem really was. Anita has been liaising with one of the hospital welfare staff, and was told that they'd help her out with the registration. But the last time Anita went to see the guy, he gave Anita the forms and told her to check back with him later. Or at least that was Anita said. I believe she didn't really understand what the problem was.
Just by speaking to Anita and her sister, I didn't really understand what the problem was either. Yes, the baby doesn't have a father, but I've seen a few such cases before and that didn't stop the child from having a birth cert. The only problem was that at the column for father's particulars it was written "Maklumat tidak diketahui."
The JPN form has been filled and signed, the borang pengesahan kelahiran has also been signed by the maternity unit, so what's the problem in getting a birth cert for the baby?
After more digging, we found out that Anita herself doesn't own an Identity Card. All she has is her birth cert. Duh! Already 22 and her IC not done yet? OK, never mind, we thought. With her birth cert, she should still be able to get her IC done - of course she has to pay fines and all that, but that's not a major problem. Or so we thought.
You see, Anita and her siblings share the same mother, but Anita has a different father. The late father of the siblings was a Malaysian who married a Singaporean who eventually got herself a Malaysian citizenship. When their father died, their mother married an Indonesian with Malaysian PR status. Despite already having obtained citizenship by then, in Anita's birth cert, her mother's citizenship was written as Singaporean, while the father, Indonesian. Her father has since disappeared, and although Anita's siblings tried to look for him to help with Anita's IC, they could not locate him.
They were in the process of getting their mother to sign the necessary statutory declarations to correct Anita's birth cert and to confirm Anita's citizenship status when Anita's mother died.
The sister with whom Anita is currently staying is willing to help her out, but she herself is not quite sure how to go about. So for the time being, Anita still doesn't have an IC. I asked if there were any problems in school without her IC. To my surprise, I was told that Anita only went to a sekolah rakyat for a short while. Ahh! No wonder lah! My first impression of Anita was that she wasn't such a "wild" girl like the previous case of the out-of-wedlock pregnancy I had handled before (remember Zana?). She looked the innocent type. She didn't even get proper education. Anita is just the kind who can be easily duped.
I am not sure if that (of Anita not having an IC) was the problem in getting a birth cert for the baby. Anita herself was a victim of circumstances, we don't want her baby to inherit the same. We hope to help her settle the problem soonest possible, although frankly speaking, I am not too sure myself how to go about. Right now I am like going around the roundabout not knowing which junction to take. Must we settle Anita's IC problem first before getting a birth cert for the baby? Or can we get the birth cert without having to wait for Anita's IC to be done? Any readers out there care to advise?
One good thing is that Anita has at least one sister willing to take care of her and the baby. Otherwise, we'd probably have to send her to a shelter home.