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)

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Of board meetings, exhibitions and Labour Day...

My NGO had our board meeting last night. Seemed more like a BORED meeting as many of the board members were not able to make it to the meeting due to work or other commitments. Yes, yes, the meeting was held at night but still, some of our volunteers’ nature of work sometimes requires them to work at odd hours. We had just ngam ngam the number of quorum needed to proceed with the meeting.

Alas, with quite a number of the coordinators not present to give their reports, the meeting ended earlier than usual. No report from the treasurer, no report from the publicity and recruitment coordinator, no report from the outreach coordinator, no report from the fellowship coordinator.

Some of these board members did say during the elections that they may not have the time to commit themselves as board members, but since we don’t have many members to choose from, we had to literally BEG them to be in the board.

Just shows how poor we are in the manpower department. Which is why for the coming International AIDS Memorial Day (celebrated in May every year), we are only able to hold just a simple exhibition, displaying posters and giving out brochures. Even this simple exhibition we are not doing it by ourselves. We are doing it together with the Perak Family Health Association. The management of the shopping complex where we asked to do the exhibition had actually wanted us to do something on a bigger scale, giving us the stage etc, but nope, neither Buddies nor the PFHA are willing to carry out anything too big. Even doing the exhibition is already an achievement for us, given our limited resources.

So yes, just a simple exhibition it will be on the 18th of May this month. If any of you happen to be at Ipoh Parade on that day, do visit us, ya?

Tomorrow is 1st of May. As I’ve always been telling people, the day my mom went into labour (to give birth to me) they called it Labour Day. To remember the pain my mom had to endure while giving birth to me, 1st May is now declared a public holiday. Hehehe…

Here, have a piece of the cake…


Have a nice holiday folks!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Positive thinking - the best medicine

I just came back from my Saturday pasar tani routine this morning, sorting out things in the kitchen when I heard the James Bond ring tone from my hand phone. That’s my PLWHA-assigned ring tone. Since Fuzi had been calling me very frequently of late, I thought it was Fuzi again, and my first thought was, “Wonder what problem she has now…”

To my surprise, when I got hold of my phone, I saw Ifa’s name instead. I haven’t been in touch with her for quite some time now.

Remember Ifa? She was one of my clients who did not have enough support from her family, particularly her father. Due to her problematic teenage years, her father lost his trust in her and even said “Biar dia mampus” once when he got fed up paying for Ifa’s medication. Thank God, later the medication was given free.

Ifa had at one time suggested to me that she wanted to stop taking medication so that she’d just die and therefore would not trouble anyone anymore. I told her then that if she didn’t take care of herself, she’d trouble others even more!

Due to the lack of family support, Ifa became such a pessimistic person. During the early months when I got to know her, whenever she called me she’d usually cry because she got so tensed up with her family, particularly her father. Thank God her mother was supportive enough to keep her going. Ifa back then easily fell sick. When I suggested that she should maybe find herself a job to keep her busy so that she wouldn’t worry so much about her HIV, her 2 main excuses were:

- She felt too weak to work
- Her father didn’t trust her enough to let her go out and work.

I remember for our 2006 Family Day in Teluk Batik, I had to personally seek permission from her father to let her come with us. I had to put on my most angelic face then…

Last year for the Family Day at Lost World of Tambun, I simply couldn’t get hold of her. Whenever I called her at home, she was not in and the guy who answered the call sounded as though he wanted to eat me up…

Back to the present… when Ifa called me this morning she asked if I could fetch her as she wanted to come to Ipoh to go to her sister’s house. Since I had not met her for quite some time, I thought it was indeed a good idea for me to fetch her and then send her to her sister’s house. At least I can get some updates on her.

So this afternoon I went to meet up with Ifa. And guess what? The Ifa I met today was a totally different person.

I was happy when Ifa told me she’s now working as a shop assistant at an electrical shop. She is no longer staying with her parents but instead renting a room at the small town where she works. To answer my curiosity, I asked her direct how she got permission from her father, not only to work, but also to stay by herself.

Apparently, too many people, including the doctor, had been asking her when she’d start working. It seems everybody else but her father had suggested that she should find herself a job to keep herself busy. Her mother finally managed to coax her father to let her work.

And the results I must say, is truly amazing. Ifa says she now doesn’t want to even think about her HIV. There are others who are worse off than her, she says. And she doesn’t easily get sick as she used to. Last time all you had to do was to sneeze right in front of her and next thing you knew, she’s down with the flu! But nosirree! Now, she no longer has to worry about that. She’s a much tougher person this time, physically and mentally.

Ahhh… positive thinking… at last! Positive thinking is the best medicine, don’t you think?

What’s that you say? Laughter is the best medicine? Well yeah, maybe, but sometimes if you laugh too much people may think you have gone nuts!

Speaking of going nuts, I think at times people may think I have gone nuts too. With my bluetooth piece worn at my ear hidden underneath my tudung, and my hand phone hidden inside my pocket, sometimes when I answer calls, I may look as though I’m talking to myself. Nobody could see the phone, nobody could see the bluetooth ear piece. All they saw was me talking. Worse, if the caller makes some jokes and I end up laughing myself silly… ALONE!

Aiyohh… what a scene… I must have looked like a makcik-gone-bonkers! Yikes! Look what technology has done to me!!

Friday, 25 April 2008

Let's not forget Nurin!



David Santos, a blogger from Portugal, has been very consistent in bringing up the tragic stories of children all over the world. The tragic story of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin had really touched his heart that he is now dedicating his blog to Nurin. He is doing a campaign to display Nurin's image in blogs all over the world on 25th April 2008. Why 25th April? I asked him that question, and this was his answer, in his own words:



"I am to take the case of it to all the COUNTRIES, being sensiblizando the people to respect our children: giving love, affection, peace, feeding and education to it. How much to the 25 of April, this date, in 1974, was the day of the release of all the Portuguese children, Guinenses, Angolans, Moçambicanas, Timorenses, Caboverdianas and Is Tomé and Principe. Because until this date they lived in the misery and the blackness. I ask for excuse, but my English is not very good."



So yes, let's not forget NURIN JAZLIN, and let's save and protect our children!


Speaking of which, whatever happened to Sharlinie and Asmawi?!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Sponsored Children

I was a bit kelam-kabut when the Education Sponsorship for Children first started. Unlike the Children Education Fund where I could lump up all payments under one account, for Education Sponsorship, I need to make sure there’s a separate account prepared for each particular child/sponsor so that by the end of the year we can send an individual report to each individual sponsor.

I guess that was why when the chairmanship of the NGO was handed over to me, and I handed over the treasurer’s job to a new treasurer, the committee members insisted that I still take care of the Education Sponsorship as it is still in its early stages. (In other words, they don’t want me to pass the headache to them!! Very clever lah these people!)

Well, I have finally managed to draw up a proper system/format for the sponsorship accounts, so now I can easily tell the fund balances for each individual sponsor, and the total sponsorship balances just by a click of the mouse. But I’d better remember to do a backup… all the info are now in my thumb drive, if I lose that, adoii… nangis!!!

Anyway, for the moment we now have 9 sponsored children – and 7 of the sponsors are readers of this blog. Another colleague of mine also managed to find a few other people interested to sponsor a child, and we are now in the process of assessing more children to be sponsored. By next year there will be a few more children under my charge who will be of school-going age, so I may need more sponsors next year.

Who are the 9 children sponsored so far?

3 of them are Fuzi’s children who can now go to school by bus instead of cycling along the lonely road every day. Fuzi can now use the monthly welfare aid for her household needs without having to worry about her children’s educational needs.

2 more children are Hana’s. Her elder daughter now need not worry about her monthly tuition fee as it is covered by the sponsorship money. But we are still unable to get a school bus/van for the younger daughter despite having the funds because so far none of the bus/van drivers approached wants to go to their area! So the little girl still has to walk to school every day. I am not too worried about the distance as she is used to it, but I am more worried about her safety, especially when her mother is at work and the girl walks alone to school. Just thinking about it gives me the creeps!!

Another 2 covered by sponsorship are Valli’s 2 boys. A whole load of burden is off Valli’s shoulders now that she doesn't have to worry about her sons’ bus fares and pocket money.

Shila’s daughter Laila is another child sponsored. Shila has told me that whatever amount of pocket money not used up by Laila in school will be kept in the girl’s savings account so she can use it for her future needs, when the sponsorship period is over (sponsorship is until she finishes school – it does not cover further education).

The 9th child sponsored is Pushpa the orphan. Her grandmother does not have any fixed monthly income… while her uncle has his own children to support. With the child’s schooling needs covered, her grandmother and uncle need not worry about her educational needs anymore.

To all the sponsors, if you’re reading this, YOU have made a whole lot of difference in the lives of these children.

On behalf of all the children and their families…

THANK YOU!!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

When the poor needs medical attention...

When SN asked me to help out a guy who missed his last appointment because his mother could not afford to bring him to the hospital, I was given his file so I could jot down the necessary details. But since I would be liaising with this guy’s mother, I asked SN for the mother’s name.

“Entah, saya pun tak tau nama dia. Bila kita call, dia bahasakan diri dia Opah.” That was SN’s answer to me.

Hmmm… I don’t think I should be calling this lady Opah since I am older than her son, Hamid.

According to SN, Hamid is very weak due to lots of complications resulting from his HIV, while his mother, who is already very elderly, and has to accompany Hamid, has problems walking… the normal knee pain, back pain and stuff like that. Imagine an elderly lady who herself needs support, having to accompany her sickly son to the hospital.

SN has fixed Hamid’s next appointment at the end of this month. I thought I’d better arrange for something soon so that he won’t have to miss another appointment. So I decided to call last Thursday. Hamid’s mother answered the call. I kept calling her makcik while she kept calling herself Opah. Oh well…

Now the problem is, since they are staying outside Ipoh, coming to the Ipoh GH for Hamid’s appointment is definitely not easy. Taking the bus will definitely be cheaper, but given Hamid’s and his mother’s physical condition, getting on and off the bus will be tough. And since they’re staying in a kampong, they’d have to walk quite a distance from their house to the bus-stop.

So they have to take a teksi sapu every time they need to come to Ipoh for Hamid’s hospital appointment. That would cost about RM100 each time. And since Hamid’s mother did not have enough money for the last appointment which was supposed to be 2 weeks ago, they had no choice but to give it a miss.

I managed to coax Hamid’s mom to bring Hamid to Ipoh for his next appointment at the end of this month. For the moment I managed to get some funds for that one trip. Hopefully when they do come down for the next appointment, I will be able to meet them and try to arrange for some fixed monthly financial assistance from the relevant bodies.

Anyway, I took down makcik’s full name and had to wait a while for her to give me her bank account details. The money needs to be banked into her account before the end of the month so she can use it for their trip to Ipoh.

The only problem now is that her savings account is with a bank which only has ONE branch in Ipoh… situated in a busy business area where getting a parking space can be difficult… does not have inter-bank banking facility to enable me to transfer the amount online… and does not have a cash deposit machine to enable me to bank in the money outside banking hours. Aiseh… leceh…

But I will have to make it a point to bank in the money before the date of Hamid’s appointment. Hamid needs medical attention. Even though they don’t have to pay anything to the hospital, they still can’t afford it because they’d still need money for transportation.

I hope to meet them when they come. Kak Som’s appointment is also on the same day, and I do hope to meet up with her as well.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

First to prebet clinic, then to gomen clinic...

Looks like this week I had to go to the clinic twice. First to a private clinic to get something for my red, hard, shiny nose (am not the patient kind of patient willing to wait at government clinics…). Got myself some antibiotics, pain killers and cream.

With my nose still reddish but not so painful, today I went to a government clinic – this time for my voluntary duty at the HIV clinic. And today’s episode of “The Horror of Finding a Parking Spot at the Hospital” was even worse than usual. There were sooooo many people this time around. Even the faraway parking lots were all taken! I was lucky that during my FOURTH round, I saw a car coming out of a parking lot just as I was passing by. No way was I going to let any other cars get in my way!!

Even at the HIV clinic there were more patients than usual. Apparently there will be no HIV clinic next week so all appointments for next week are brought forward to this week. No wonder lah so ramai today…

Anyway, the first PLWHA referred to us today was a guy in his early forties. The conversation was in Chinese language so I didn’t understand what they were talking about. But judging from the “cold” tone of the conversation I had suspected that this guy wasn’t very cooperative and just wanted to get out of there and just see the doctor. So we just gave him our brochure in case he needs to talk to us later.

However, the next case referred to us was quite interesting. The PLWHA is a 31 year old Thai lady – let’s just call her Ms Tai. We were quite worried at first if she couldn’t speak English and none of us knew the Thai language. But she came in with her Malaysian boyfriend, Rama (they’ve been couple for 7 years), who seemed very supportive despite he himself being confirmed negative. So no communication problems for us, Rama speaks English and Malay well while Ms Tai could speak English, albeit with a Thai dialect.

Rama has not married this lady because right from the start (when he brought her to Ipoh after they met 7 years ago) his family never agreed to their relationship. And that was without even knowing that Ms Tai was actually married before at such a young age and now has a 15 year old daughter staying with the grandmother in Thailand. Ms Tai’s ex-husband was a drug addict.

When this couple found out about Ms Tai’s HIV infection earlier this year, and without any strings attached, Rama could have easily dumped her. But you know what Rama said to me?

“Saya cakap Melayu la, cakap English nanti dia faham. Memang saya frust lah kak. Saya mau jadi macam orang lain, mau anak semua. Tapi saya kena nampak strong la… kalau tidak nanti dia lagi teruk. Memang saya boleh beli dia tiket, hantar dia balik Siam sana… tapi saya sudah cinta dia 7 tahun kak… tak sampai hati la nak buat macam tu…”

Wow! Even at his worst, he would still buy her a ticket to send her back home instead of dumping her just like that. But even that he was not willing to do. He is her pillar, he is her strength. Nobody else knows about her HIV – not her family, not his family.

And since Ms Tai is not Malaysian, she has to buy her HIV medication – which comes up to over RM900 a month. And Rama is paying for them – every single sen! I think if his family knew, they’d definitely go mad…

We did suggest to him generic drugs, which are cheaper. But he thought that meant poor quality drugs and he only wanted the best for her. We did however, suggest to him to talk it over with the doctor so he’d understand more about the generic drugs which may not necessarily be of poorer quality.

Actually, SN had earlier suggested to him to register their marriage so Ms Tai could get free drugs by virtue of being married to a Malaysian. But because of his family problems, Rama found it rather difficult. While at first he was determined to marry her, now that he knows she’s HIV positive, meaning they have to practice safe sex, he thought if he goes ahead and marries her, he will then have to answer questions from kay-poh-chees about “Bila mau dapat anak?” and the likes…

Well, we could only suggest options to him; it’s up to him to decide.

The next case referred to us was of a retired police officer, Subra, who had known of his HIV since 2002. Although he had his earlier checkups and appointments in GHKL and then Sg Buluh Hospital, he was never referred to any support groups. This surprised me really, because there are quite a few support groups in KL and Selangor.When we asked if he needed anyone to talk to, his answer (and his wife agreed) was a definite yes. They welcomed our services. His wife has been confirmed negative but she has been very supportive of her husband. Their eldest son and his wife know about his HIV and are very supportive. However, their younger son has still not been told about this since he himself is having marital problems right now. Mr and Mrs Subra just didn’t want to bother him with more problems. Not now.

Anyway, while going in and out of the room sending the medical files of the PLWHAs for us to refer, SN giggled and told me, “Pakwe dengan makwe ada kat luar tu.” And I was thinking… which pakwe and makwe? SN meant Yah and her Mr. Darling! Meaning to say they’re back together as a pasangan bercinta? Muahaha!! After getting rejected by his ex-wife and not getting any recommendations of HIV positive women from us, Mr Darling went back to Yah? Muahaha!! No wonder lah Yah doesn’t call me as often as she did before. Her buah hati pengarang jantung is back with her… adoiii

I actually wanted to go out to meet Yah after we settled all the new cases, but by the time I went out, Yah and Mr Darling were no longer around. Whatever lah, asal bahagia… I just hope she won’t bug me again when and if Mr Darling gets himself a new HIV positive prey (not any of my other clients please!!).

Other than that, SN also requested my assistance to get some help for another PLWHA – a guy who is already very weak and already on medication but missed his last appointment because his mother who is taking care of him, couldn’t afford to bring him to Ipoh. Aiyoh, susahlah ini macam. I will have to think of options to help them out. SN had set another appointment date for this guy, hopefully I will be able to arrange for some help before that date.

On another note, I also found out from SN that Kak Som’s next appointment will be at the end of this month. Hopefully, I will be free on that day so I can come to the clinic to speak to Kak Som personally. Apparently, according to SN, even at the district hospital where Kak Som is warded, she seldom gets visitors – not even from her own children. Hmmm… no wonder lah her son-in-law was quite reluctant to talk to me…


Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The art of marketing...

… or the lack of it.

Well, I’m definitely not the right person to talk about the art of marketing. Marketing is definitely NOT my strong point. I only know what ticks me off.

I was relaxing at home after work today, after taking some pain killers and antibiotics for some infection INSIDE my nostril! Ouch! It is OH SO PAINFUL!! One side of my nose is now red, hard and shiny. So for the past few days I took time off from my voluntary work, although I still go to my office, looking like a red-nose reindeer…

What has that got to do with marketing? Hmmm… seems that these telemarketers do have the knack of bothering me whenever I don’t feel well.

Today’s call came from a KL mobile number. I’m usually reluctant to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers especially from outside Perak, but I thought maybe, just maybe, it could be one of my friends in KL whose number may not be registered in my hand phone.

A young chap introduced himself from so and so club which I have never heard of. He asked if my visa and master card expires in 2008 or 2010. HUH? That was my exact response to him. He then told me to check my visa and master cards to see the expiry dates.

“Untuk tujuan apa ni?” I asked.
“Kami nak semak tarikh luput kad puan saja.”

Hmmm… not a satisfactory answer at all. Say lah something more convincing! What right has he got to know about when my card expires? And he expected me to get up, go to my room, take out my purse and check my credit cards for him? With the pain from my red, hard, shiny nose bothering me at the same time?! I simply ended the call. He did call again immediately after, but I didn’t bother answer. My credit card providers should know pretty well when my cards expire and I don’t see why I should tell anyone else when my card expires unless I’m ordering something by phone or internet and I’m paying using my card. Besides none of my cards expire in 2008 or 2010.

But I guess the above calls are quite normal.

What made it a little different was the SMS which later came from the same number…

“Takda adap… ape nak jadi skang…jgn kate kami yg muda tak da sopan.”

Hehehe… and I didn’t even have to say anything nasty!

Well, if he had expected to make me mad with that SMS of his, too bad, he failed. His SMS only convinced me further that I did the right thing by not entertaining his call. And if he had expected me to reply his SMS so he could say something further, he failed again. I don’t see why I should waste a single sen on the SMS charges to reply his.

My guess is it was not the first time he got responses like mine. So he got frustrated. And by his response, I don’t think he will last long in this line of work.

Actually this incident somehow reminded me of something which happened many many years ago when I was young and still working in KL. I was then renting a house with a group of anak-anak dara… a door to door salesman came to our house trying to sell something… I can’t remember what it was…

We didn’t let him in. We just thanked him saying we were not interested.

Wow! The guy got really mad.

“Ye lah… apalah standard barang saya jual! Orang nak beli barang kat supermarket je, tak nak beli kat kita!!”

Whoa! Ini macam punya salesman pun ada ka?


Friday, 11 April 2008

Getting hold of Kak Som/Meeting a new volunteer

It has been about a week since I was assigned to be Kak Som’s buddy. During my group meeting last Tuesday, I took the opportunity to ask for more details from one of my group members who happened to be on clinic duty during Kak Som’s hospital appointment. I wanted to know who accompanied Kak Som to the hospital as it could give me some clues on her family’s acceptance of her HIV.

Too bad I couldn’t really get the info I thought I could get. According to my colleague, Kak Som actually came in an ambulance accompanied by 2 nurses from the district hospital where she was warded. So no, she was not accompanied by any family members. As such, the only info we got on her family was based on whatever she told the volunteers on duty. And sometimes the info obtained during the first contact at the HIV clinic may not be the whole truth as the PLWHAs may still hide the facts.

Although Kak Som didn’t talk much during the first contact at the HIV clinic, she did agree to the idea of being assigned a buddy and she did allow us to call. However, the number given was a hand phone number supposedly belonging to her daughter who stays with her.

Yesterday I decided to give Kak Som a call. I thought Kak Som’s daughter would answer the call and so I’d introduce myself to the daughter before I asked to speak to Kak Som. But when I called, a guy answered. Apparently the hand phone belonged to Kak Som’s son-in-law who seemed quite reluctant to talk when I introduced myself to him. I don’t blame him really, I don’t think any of Kak Som’s family members knew about us since none of them accompanied Kak Som to Ipoh GH last week.

All I managed to find out from the SIL was that Kak Som was still warded at the district hospital. So I didn’t get to speak to Kak Som. And I didn’t manage to get much info from the SIL either as he was reluctant to talk. Maybe he wasn’t sure he should be talking about his mom-in-law’s HIV status with a stranger… maybe he wasn’t comfortable having a mom-in-law who has HIV… maybe there were other people around him at that time… I don’t know for sure.

If Kak Som stays nearby, I would probably go and visit her at the hospital. But the town where she stays is quite far, so I guess I will have to give her some time and maybe call again when she gets discharged from the hospital. Or the other option is to check with SN when is Kak Som’s next appointment in Ipoh and I will try and meet Kak Som then.

Later yesterday, a fellow volunteer called me up to ask if I was free to meet up with someone who’s interested to become a volunteer. Usually we’d have an informal chat with any potential volunteers before accepting them into our organization. Not that we’re choosy people, but given the nature of our voluntary work, there are many things we need to consider.

Anyway, since I was free, I agreed to meet up with this lady, together with the colleague who called me up. The lady is a retiree, and both my colleague and I almost fainted when she told us she’s 69. Thank goodness before we fainted she managed to correct herself – she’s actually 59. Tak jadi pengsan! If she was indeed 69, before anything else we’d want her to give us a talk on “Staying Young”!

Well, my first impression is that she’s suitable for the job. But we will have to start bringing her around with us during our house visits to give her exposure to our work. Then only we'll know for sure if she is indeed suitable.

I had to go through the same thing when I first joined...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Fuzi's unending problems...

Yesterday my friend brought his carpenter friend to Fuzi’s house to check on the repair works that need to be done to her house door. I had told him earlier to get the quotation to get the door fixed so I can get donors willing to sponsor the repair works.

I got a shock when my friend called telling me that the charges (AFTER discount!) is RM5,500 including some repairs to the leaking ceilings. (I guess that puts Fuzi’s house at the same standard as many new government buildings with ceiling bocor everywhere??!) I immediately asked my friend to get the carpenter to give a detailed breakdown of what the charges are for.

Later when I attended my group meeting (to discuss on our PLWHA clients’ progress) I was given the details. At the very top of the piece of paper was written:

8 doors (kayu nyatoh) = RM5,000

Hah? EIGHT doors??! Weyy! I asked them to repair the front door; they want to repair the whole house? Maybe adding the side door is acceptable enough since it is directly accessible from outside and it may need repairs… but replacing every door in the house including the bathroom door, toilet door and bedroom doors? All nyatoh some more?! Whoa…. Ini sudah lebih… even I use PVC or zinc door for my bathroom and toilet! Much cheaper definitely.

The additional RM500 is for the ceiling repairs (which is necessary because one of the ceilings actually fell down, hitting Fuzi’s 10 year old son, resulting in the boy receiving a few stitches to his head).

I told my friend to get even a more detailed quotation (stating how much is needed for each single work to be done instead of having a lump sum for all the doors in the house) and I will choose from the list only the necessary ones. I already have a donor willing to sponsor the front door but that doesn’t mean we can take advantage of the donor!

Anyway, through a fellow volunteer, I was introduced to a lawyer willing to help out with Fuzi’s marriage cert case. Since I promised to fetch Fuzi at home today to bring her to see the lawyer, I decided to check for myself the many doors the carpenter wanted to replace. I suppose he considers the front door as 2 doors (the wide kind), one kitchen door which is never opened, one side door (their main in/out passage), one bathroom door, one toilet door, and 2 bedroom doors. Fuzi said this guy asked to see all doors, so she showed all. Even she mentioned that the doors inside the house need not be repaired/replaced (what more all with nyatoh!), just the front and side doors. So I shall just stick to that, plus the ceiling repairs.

Back to the marriage cert case, I finally brought Fuzi to meet up with the lawyer. Fuzi even has more problems now since the one witness she is in touch with is NOT WILLING to attend the hearing. At first when Fuzi went to see him, he did seem a bit reluctant and gave all sorts of excuses but Fuzi begged him and told him she’d reimburse him with some money. He then said maybe. I guess after talking it over with his family, he decided he didn’t want to get involved. So he called Fuzi and told her so.

We explained the whole story to the lawyer today. She advised that Fuzi explain to the court about the unwillingness of the witness to cooperate and to ask the court to subpoena him. Actually Fuzi is afraid that if she does that, the witness’ family may attack her (verbally lah) at home. As for the other witness, according to this lawyer, Fuzi should just explain that she doesn’t even know who this other witness is. After all, the akad nikah was way back in 1994. The lawyer taught Fuzi what to say etc when she attends the hearing at the end of this month.

During the discussion, the main reason Fuzi had to go through all the hassle was explained to the lawyer. Fuzi’s daughter wanted to do her MyKad and despite her birth cert clearly stating the father’s status and citizenship, and clearly stating too that the child’s citizenship being Malaysian, JPN requested her to fill in a form to confirm that this girl is indeed Malaysian. For that they wanted Fuzi to produce the marriage cert to them, and that’s why Fuzi needs to legalize the marriage cert first.

According to the lawyer, by right with the birth cert clearly indicating her citizenship, Fuzi’s daughter need not fill in the form to confirm the status of her citizenship. So what the lawyer is going to do is, whenever she’s free she will go to JPN and ask them why the need for the confirmation of citizenship status, and if JPN still insists it is still needed, she will ask them to SHOW her which ruling says so.

If this JPN matter can be settled, then there is no urgency for Fuzi to get her marriage cert legalized. As a matter of fact, it may not be necessary at all… except maybe to enable Fuzi to apply for PR status. (Now she has to renew her visa on yearly basis.)

I hope everything will end well… I pening already don’t know how else to help Fuzi and the kids.



Sunday, 6 April 2008

HOI! Want to rob, go rob the rich lah!!

No, I’m not saying it is okay to rob or steal or whatever you want to call it. It is wrong no doubt. But if you really have to rob someone, can you please consider who your victims are?! At least Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor!

I was in my office on Friday afternoon when Fuzi called. Her house was broken into (in broad daylight) and the burglar/s managed to get RM300 cash. Fuzi had a few days earlier received her monthly welfare aid (Bantuan Kanak-kanak) of RM400 in cash. That Friday, her son was ill and so she brought him to a clinic. She didn’t dare bring too much cash along with her so she left RM300 at home, slipped under her stack of clothes in the room. When she got back she saw the front door open. She went inside, saw that her room had been ransacked and the cash gone!

My first concern was if any of her children were at home when the burglar/s broke in. Thank goodness they were not. Fuzi sometimes has no choice but to leave her 13 and 12 year old daughters at home by themselves or to take care of the younger siblings when she needs to go anywhere. I can’t imagine what would happen to the girls if the burglar/s had decided to break in when they were inside. Sheesh!!

Of course, to Fuzi the RM300 is a huge amount. Hey, even to me that’s a lot! But her children’s safety is more important.

I think I have mentioned before in one of my earlier postings that the front door to Fuzi’s house is not really a proper door. Definitely not secure enough. It doesn’t even have a lock – just some planks from the inside to avoid people from opening the door from the outside. When I come to visit, she’d remove the planks to open the door and let me in. When the whole family needs to leave the house, they’d have to go out the kitchen door which can be locked from outside.

I have asked a friend before if he could find someone who’d be able to install a proper door to Fuzi’s house at a reasonable price. I needed a quotation to enable me to find a donor willing to sponsor the door. But the guy this friend wanted to recommend always seem to be busy (or maybe because there’s not much money he can get from this job) and has yet to visit the house to assess.

Today I called my friend again – explaining to him what happened and the urgency of getting a proper door for Fuzi’s house. He said he’d try to get somebody else to visit the house and give a quotation. Well, he’d better do that soon.

Poor Fuzi. What with her marriage cert thingy still not settled… now this?

To the burglar/s, whoever you are, I hope by now you’re having dyspepsia at the very least. Anything worse would be better. (I know, I know… I’m being too nice…)

HOI! If you really have to rob, go rob somebody rich lah!! If the occupants of the house can’t even afford a proper door for their house; that obviously means they themselves need the money. CHEH!!

Friday, 4 April 2008

My new client

It has been quite some time since I was last assigned a client from our contacts at the HIV clinic. Yes, I became Lin’s buddy at the beginning of this year, but that was not an assignment from the HIV clinic. Lin was the one who called me based on the number she got on our brochure. Being one of the volunteers with the most number of clients already assigned, the HIV clinic volunteers if possible would try their best not to assign new clients to me. Furthermore, we now do have another female Malay volunteer in our organization. So if any client specifically request for a female Malay volunteer, they can always assign this other volunteer.

As I mentioned in my early postings, usually we’d assign a buddy whom we feel would be the most "compatible" with the client - depending on their background, the neighborhood they live in, and whatever other relevant info. If say a Malay client specifically mentioned she didn’t want a Malay buddy (like Miera), we’d assign her a non-Malay buddy. We always ask them first.

I have just been assigned a new client this week. Hmmm… after my explanation in the first paragraph, you may wonder why I am being assigned a new client this time. Well, this new client is a Malay lady in her 50’s – and uhh, the other female Malay volunteer we have is much younger. So they assigned ME to be this lady's buddy. What does that imply? Oh, never mind!

Anyway, at least now I have a client whom I can call Kak instead of the other way round for all my other clients. Kak Som has been widowed since 12 years ago. She has 3 grown children (the youngest already in her twenties) and all of them know about her HIV.

Kak Som only knew about her HIV about a week ago. So, understandably, she’s still quite shocked and upset. She doesn’t even know how she got infected… maybe, just maybe, it came from her late husband. She did mention that her late husband used to take drugs, but he wasn’t IVDU. Or at least, she thinks he wasn’t IVDU. When they are already addicted, anything can happen.

But her husband died 12 years ago, could she really have been infected by him? Well, it’s possible. Based on her CD4 count, which is only 24, she was probably infected many years ago without knowing. Well, without any blood tests, she wouldn’t know. She only found out about her HIV when she was diagnosed with TB recently, and blood tests showed she was HIV positive. Kak Som was on a wheelchair when she came for her appointment this week.

I got the above info from a copy of the contact report written by one of the volunteers on duty during this week’s HIV clinic. The contact report also mentioned that she seemed quiet and very sad.

I haven’t personally spoken to Kak Som yet. She just met our volunteers on Wednesday. I don’t want to move in too fast. So I think I will call her next week...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Oh dear, poor Fuzi...

Today Fuzi's case to get her marriage cert legalised was called at the Mahkamah Syariah. I was hoping she could get things settled by today.

I was thinking of waiting until later today to call her and find out the outcome. But just as I was walking back to my office after a coffee break at a nearby restaurant, Fuzi rang up. She sounded so frustrated. Her case is postponed yet again until later this month. She was told to bring along the 2 witnesses to her marriage in Narathiwat Thailand many years ago.

The problem is, she can only get in touch with one of the witnesses who stays quite near her place. The other witness, whom she doesn't personally know (he was a friend of another friend of her late husband) was last known to stay in Kelantan. I was thinking maybe Fuzi could send a registered letter to this witness, but in the Narathiwat marriage cert, his address was only written as Rantau Panjang, Kelantan. So how?

The guy who was supposed to be Fuzi's life saviour (he was the one who offered to help Fuzi settle the matter) asked Fuzi for RM500 so he can go to Rantau Panjang to look for this witness. What does he plan to do? Go to Rantau Panjang and ask from door to door if anyone knew so and so (the witness name)? Fuzi was reluctant to give him the money, saying that there's no guarantee he'd be able to find the witness.

Fuzi then asked if it was possible to check with the registration dept to get the witness' latest address. For that, the guy asked Fuzi for RM200. Seems all the bugger wanted was money and he was taking advantage of Fuzi's desperate situation.

I have never trusted this guy because Fuzi had already given him a total of more than RM1k - all without receipt. Over RM1K just to arrange for the court case. I've told Fuzi I didn't trust that guy. But Fuzi was so desperate to get her marriage cert legalised, she didn't really care. After today's court case and his demand for more money to help her out, Fuzi herself got fed-up. Today she didn't give him any money.

Later today Fuzi called again. She said she had already met up with the witness who is staying in her neighborhood. He has agreed to go but he expects to be compensated as he will have to take the day off (he's doing small-time business). Fair enough, after all he's not asking as much as the scumbag who was supposed to help Fuzi. This witness also mentioned that he knows of a friend who knows the other witness. So he's willing to help get Fuzi to meet up with this friend - hopefully this friend will know how to get hold of the other witness.

At the same time, I'm trying to get help from any syariah lawyers willing to help Fuzi settle the case without having to get both witnesses. I wanted to do that before but Fuzi was confident there was no need for that as she trusted the scumbag would be able to help her.

So no, the case is not settled yet for poor Fuzi...

And oh, since Fuzi was so upset this morning, she totally forgot about the blood tests for herself and her son Ijam and headed right home after the court case. Tomorrow she will have to come to Ipoh again just to get the blood tests done.