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, 30 August 2008

Life is not a bed of roses... or is it?

Wouldn't it be nice to have a bed of roses at your house? Sweet-looking, sweet-smelling roses of various colours? Must be beautiful.

Now go jump onto the bed of roses.

OUCH!! Thorny isn't it?

So life IS like a bed of roses after all. Sweet... but thorny and can be painful nevertheless.

You're probably thinking that I must be crazy to even suggest jumping onto a bed of roses... but I was just trying to give an example of how even the sweetest things have setbacks. And that's how life is.

When you're poor you wish you're rich. You think your problems will be over when you become rich. Then you become rich... and eventually you'll learn that there are other things you have to worry about when you're rich. And that not everything can be solved by being rich.

When you only have a motorcycle you wish you have a car. You think once you buy a car it will solve your family's travelling problems. Then you get yourself a car... and eventually you find out that buying a car is not all there is to it. Now you have to think about maintenance of the car... you need to adjust your budget... you may have to cut down on other aspects of your family's expenses. Oh dear... now you have more problems to think about.

When you're a full-time housewife sometimes you wish you're already climbing up the corporate ladder. You think to yourself... if only you're a somebody. When you're already somewhere at the top of the ladder, sometimes you wish you could just stay at home and not think of all the problems you have to face by being there at the top. You think to yourself... if only you're just a nobody.

Ah yes... there are times when I wish I am what I was when I wished I was what I am now... (am I making sense?:-))

Sometimes you wish you could just breeze through life without any obstacles. But really, a life without obstacles is like going to school without learning anything. What a waste....

When things don't turn out the way you wished they did, sometimes you get upset. Sometimes you get disappointed. Sometimes you get angry. And when you're upset and angry, you tend to do things, which you think, is the best course of action at that point of time. You don't think of the after-effects of your action. You don't think of the blessing behind your disappointment. You just do what you THINK is best at that point... and then at another point of your life (may be just after... may be much later...) you have regrets and wish you had dealt with it in a different manner.

Yes, things can go wrong even on the brightest of all days. You can wake up on a bright and sunny day, feeling energetic and all ready to go to work. Things can still go wrong. On a very small scale, you may get stuck in a terrible traffic jam or you may get stuck in the lift on your way up to your office. On a slightly bigger scale, you may get involved in a road accident no matter how careful you are. Or on an even bigger scale, when you least expect it, a plane may crash into the building you're in, causing the whole building to collapse...

It is only natural that whenever disaster strikes, big or small, we begin with a negative response to the whole situation. We tend to start pointing fingers. We tend to do and say the wrong things, thinking that is the right thing to do. And if someone else adds more fire to it, things get even worse.

It takes time before we can cool our heads and think rationally. Which is why it is helpful to have someone around to cool us down. Then we can begin to think of all the lessons and blessings, no matter how devastating the happenings are.

That's how life is. Full of lessons. Full of blessings.

No matter what happens to you, there are lessons to be learnt. Concentrate on the lessons, NOT on the disappointments. Easier said than done, I know... but what is past is over and done with, and no matter what science fictions tell us, there is no way we can step into a time machine to go back in time to correct things. Such being the case, we might as well try to learn something out of it.

So whenever you're stuck in a frustrating situation, don't despair. Think of the blessings behind it. And even if you can't find the blessing there and then, convince yourself that there has to be a blessing to it one way or another... a blessing which you may only be able to see much later in your life.

We are not able to tell our future. We can only plan. We need sunshine, we need rain... but only God can give us all those. Only God knows what's best for us. So while we must still try to plan our life to the very best, let's just be thankful with our destiny.

No, I'm not trying to give you lessons on life. I'm merely reminding myself there must be reasons behind all the setbacks in my life. After all, I am sure I am much more fortunate than many other people around the world.

Don't worry, be happy!

To all fellow Muslims... Selamat Berpuasa and may you have a blessed Ramadhan.

And to all fellow Malaysians... SELAMAT MENYAMBUT HARI KEBANGSAN KE 51!!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Of house visits, new volunteers and peer support...

Ramadan is coming in a few days time. I’m already getting cash contributions for me to buy Raya goodies for the poor. That means I need to start shopping for necessities to be distributed to my poor clients.

While I had earlier mentioned that I was not sure if I’d be able to do my usual Ramadan house visits this year, chances are I may still be able to do so. My mother’s condition has improved a whole lot and my sister will be around on weekends so I may be doing my house visits on Sundays without having to worry about my mother.

I hope to be able to bring along a few “babies” (the new volunteers who are still under probation) to come along with me. The visits are important as part of their training and heck, I may need the extra manpower to help carry the stuff in and out of my car!

This year alone we managed to rope in 4 new volunteers, 2 males and 2 females. One of them actually started off as our client (he’s a PLWHA) and based on our assessment, we asked him if he’d like to become a volunteer and he agreed. That makes him only the 2nd PLWHA to have joined the Buddies.

The PLWHAs who joined as volunteers are both financially stable. The way I see it, none of my own clients can become volunteers – they have enough problems of their own. Well yes, Jah may be the happy-go-lucky type and can really make others laugh; but she’s not working and is dependent on others to travel anywhere. How to do voluntary work like that?

Ah well, at least having 2 of them as volunteers is a good enough start. We do intend to set up a peer support group in the near future so hopefully these 2 will one day lead the way…

Monday, 25 August 2008

Various updates

When I first got back to Ipoh after my mother’s knee operation, I had quite a peaceful week in the sense that none of my PLWHA clients called me.

Somehow it is when I am out of Ipoh that those calls kept coming. I was in Klang Valley at the end of last week for my mother’s follow-up appointment in Putrajaya Hospital when a few calls came in.

First call came in while I was at the hospital, asking for Puan Afizah. From the way the caller spoke, I knew she was an Indian lady. The lady was actually a friend of Devi who called to seek help for Devi’s children. Devi herself doesn’t own a phone, so she had to depend on her friend to make the calls. I told the lady I was in KL and asked her to call my colleague instead, as this colleague is Devi’s co-buddy. I then sent a text message to this lady giving her my colleague’s number.

Then as I was relaxing at my brother’s home on Saturday, Yah called. When I saw Yah’s name, I wondered what she wanted. She had stopped calling me to talk about her love life, so I was hoping she wasn’t going to go into that again. Well, she did not. Instead, she asked if I could tell SN (of Ipoh HIV clinic) not to disclose to Yah’s in-laws on the date of Yah’s appointments. Huh? I told Yah it was none of SN’s business to disclose the patients’ date of appointments to others. Yah herself should know by now what type of a person SN is. In fact, I think if ever Yah’s in-laws attempted to get such info from SN, they’d probably get a scolding from her as she has better things to do!

Frankly, I think Yah wasn’t really asking me to talk to SN. It was just her way of telling me about her problems with her in-laws. Remember Yah used to have lots of problems with her in-laws who were always demanding for money – like it was Yah’s responsibility after the demise of her late husband, their brother. I thought it had cooled down a bit but apparently it had not. In a way, I think it was Yah’s fault that this matter was brought up again. When Yah got a job in Ipoh she went and stayed with her sister-in-law despite all her previous experiences with her in-laws.

Now the in-laws are asking Yah to pay a fixed monthly amount as “living allowance” for her mother-in-law. Their mother and they are telling Yah to provide some monthly allowance? When Yah refused, one of the in-laws told Yah’s employer that Yah has HIV and that he should not employ her anymore. So now Yah is jobless.

But the in-laws (the outlaws?) have not given up chasing Yah for money. Haiya, ini macam punya orang pun ada ka??? I told Yah to just ignore them.

On Sunday morning, I got a text message from an unfamiliar number. The sender introduced herself as Lin’s daughter. The message was to inform me that Lin had been warded in Ipoh GH due to high fever.

When I got back to Ipoh on Sunday afternoon, and after some rest at home, I decided to drop by the hospital to visit Lin. My house is not that far from the hospital and I needed to go out to buy something anyway. But when I got to Lin’s bed, the whole clan (I think many were Lin’s siblings) was there except Lin. Lin’s youngest daughter who recognized me (she had joined the Family Day trip early this month) told me that her mother was having a bath. Since there were simply too many family members there, I decided not to wait. I thought it would be better if I were to visit on a weekday.

Today I checked - Lin was no longer at the hospital. She must have been discharged. I will check on her again later…

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Update on Baby K

While I was at the waiting room outside the OT of Putrajaya Hospital, waiting for my mother while she had her knee operation, Mrs K called from a public phone. She was then at IJN taking baby K for her appointment. If you recall in one of my earlier postings, I mentioned about Baby K being diagnosed as having a hole in the heart by the doctors at Ipoh GH, and so she was referred to IJN.

The week before they went to KL, they called to inform me about the appointment. I told them I wouldn’t be around in Ipoh as I would be in KL for quite some time. So the day before they went to KL, I got an SMS from them asking if I was still in KL and if I’d be visiting Baby K at IJN. Also, if Mr and Mrs K could hitch a ride in my car when I go back to Ipoh. I told them I was in KL to take care of my mother who was undergoing a knee operation and as such even if I was going back to Ipoh on the same day as them, I wouldn’t be able to offer them a ride.

It so happened that Baby K’s appointment was on the very same day that my mother had her knee operation. Mrs K called me because she was asked for payment. She only had RM150 in hand but the amount asked for was more than that. She was probably thinking that since I was in KL I’d be able to help her out. Sorry lah, I have my priorities. I told her that IJN has its own welfare body and told her to ask around. Mr K was also with her and so they shouldn’t be depending on me just to ask around. Prior to this I had already sent them a text message telling them what to do and what documents to bring along when they go to IJN. They should at least be a bit more independent to do the asking.

After that call from Mrs K, I set my hand phone on silent mode. I was at a “No Hand Phone” area and so I didn’t want to keep getting unnecessary calls. Later I noticed there was a missed call from the same number which I didn’t answer.

A few days later I got a message from them. They were already back home. Ah, so they survived without my help. Just shows that they could actually handle things if they had to.

Anyway, the message was to inform me that the doctors at IJN had confirmed Baby K’s hole-in-heart. The little girl who is now 1 ½ years old may need to undergo a heart surgery when she’s 4 years old. Meanwhile there will be more follow-ups at IJN from time to time.

I haven’t had the chance to visit them or any of my other clients yet. Although I am back home, my mother still needs supervision and she’s my top priority. Ramadhan is coming soon and I am not sure if I’d be able to do my pre-Raya house visits this year. Maybe I can do so on weekends when my sister is around. Maybe. I am still not sure. Even for the Education Sponsorship for Children which I am handling, thank goodness there is such a thing as internet banking so I can easily transfer the monthly pocket money and bus fares to the children’s account from the comfort of my home.

Ah well, I’ve got to set my priorities right…

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Family Day gossip...

Ahhh… am finally back in Ipoh! I still can’t get back into full force for my office and voluntary work as my mother is still recuperating from her knee operation, but at least I am not spending my time either at the hospital or on the road…

As promised, here comes some “gossip” from the Buddies Family Day held on 3rd August 2008.

I was supposed to be one of the 3 volunteers to go to the Medan Gopeng bus station to fetch clients coming by bus from Gopeng and Kampar area. We were supposed to pick them up at 8 am. But I had a tough time trying to get ready on time. I just got out of the bathroom, one client called. Just as I was dressing up, another client called. By the time I managed to get ready, it was 10 minutes to 8 am.

Just about 5 minutes after leaving my house, a fellow volunteer called. He said he and the other volunteer who were already there had managed to get hold of the few clients who were supposed to be fetched at Medan Gopeng and asked who else we were supposed to wait for. There were still Pushpa and her grandmother who were not there yet but since there was enough space in the 2 cars, I need not go all the way to the bus station. So instead I headed direct to our meeting place.

We were supposed to assemble at 8.30 am yet when I got there at 8 am, Lin and her children were already there. One by one our volunteers and clients got there. We targeted to make a move at 8.45 am and we actually started off our journey at 8.55 am… which I must say was not bad at all.

Even Yah, who was supposed to meet up with us at Taiping Zoo, ended up following us by bus from Ipoh. She actually called me up the day before, telling me that she just got back from Kelantan and was still in Ipoh and as such may not have the time to go back to her kampong to get her son who was supposed to join the trip. Since she was still in Ipoh, I told her to meet up with the rest of us at 8.30 am. And what was she doing in Kelantan? Wait lah, coming up in the later part of this report.

So yeah, not only did Yah and Lin join our Family Day – they both were even on the same bus all the way to Taiping from Ipoh.

But no, by the looks of it, I don’t think Yah and Lin actually got to know each other. Lin came with her children and so most of the time she was with her children. Even when she mingled with the other PLWHAs, she seemed more comfortable with the ones with children. Yah on the other hand, seemed more comfortable talking to a male PLWHA. Hmmm… kasanona at work?

We got to the zoo a few minutes after 10 am. There we were greeted by one of the zoo staff already assigned to take care of us. Thanks to the zoo management, we managed to arrange for free entrance for our clients and 50% off for our volunteers. The staff assigned to take care of us actually took us around the zoo to explain about the animals. Although there were tram services available to go around the zoo, we decided to walk to be able to enjoy and learn more about the animals.

Since ours was quite a big group (there were 40 of us if I am not mistaken), in case we were separated (some walked faster, some walked slower), we were told to wait outside the lion’s cage. The zoo management had arranged for us to actually touch and take photos with a few animals.

It had been a looooooooong while since I last went to the zoo so I can’t really say if there are any improvements but they do have quite a variety of animals including an 8-feet long fish called the… apanama? Errr no, not the apanama, but the Arapaima.


Anyway, Taiping being one of the towns with the highest amount of rain; it rained while we were walking around. Thank goodness there was a nearby shelter while we waited for the rain to stop. And the rain stopped after about 10 or 15 minutes so no, it didn’t spoil our day.

As arranged earlier, we stopped outside the lion cage. When the whole group got there, the zoo staff took out 2 lion cubs for us to hold and to take photos with. Cute little darlings! Some others not in our group who happened to pass by about the same time, “tumpang sekaki” since the zoo staff were not able to tell which ones were from our group and which were not.

After the lion’s cage and after passing a few more animals including the group of animals from the African Savannah, the next stop was the snake house. A 60kg python was brought out for us to “play” with. That was the first time ever I touched a snake (of any kind!). It wasn’t so bad after all…




They didn’t arrange for us to take photos with the crocodiles though, so no photos of crocodile Dundee…

By the time we got to the Zoo Central where the main shelter is, it was already after 12 noon. There the zoo management arranged for us to play with an orangutan. There even more people tumpang sekaki and berkaki-kaki, to the extent that we found it difficult to get our group of people to take pictures with the orangutan even though the arrangement was actually made for our group. For some of the photos, I couldn’t really focus, so I just held my camera up high so that I wouldn’t be snapping pictures of people’s heads instead!

Since it was already afternoon, we decided to have lunch first before we continued our walk around the other half of the zoo. We had made earlier arrangements with the canteen operator to provide us packed lunch. Even for lunch, some of the public actually wanted to tumpang sekaki… one guy was actually about to take one (or more) from the big box where our lunch packs were placed. I had to tell him that the lunch belonged to our group.

I couldn’t join the other half of the trip around the zoo as I had to go back early to go to KL the same day. So after lunch, I joined another volunteer in her car as she too had to go back early due to some other commitments. It was during our way back to Ipoh that I managed to get more updates about Yah.

Actually when Yah got to where we were supposed to assemble earlier, she wasn’t wearing her tudung. But later when we got down from the bus, she was already wearing the tudung ( despite her fitting short sleeve t-shirt and tights). On the bus she took out a tudung from her bag and wore it, telling another client sitting next to her, “Takut nanti Kak Afizah marah.” Laaaaa…. Akai ada ka?? As though I never saw her without tudung before!

And guess what she was doing in Kelantan? Well, she didn’t tell me exactly why she went to Kelantan. When I asked, she just went hehehe… ikut kawan

But I still got the story nevertheless. She told another client, who then told her buddy about it. The buddy then told me about it.

You see, as I had figured out earlier, Yah is no longer with Mr. Darling. She has since got herself a new boyfriend, an engineer so it seemed. Somehow, she heard that her boyfriend went for holiday in Kelantan with someone else, so Yah actually took the trouble to go all the way to Kelantan. And like Melodi’s “Terjah”, Yah went to terjah the hotel where her boyfriend stayed, and found him there with another woman! Mak oiih, apa punya drama daaa…

So when Yah joined us for the Family Day outing, she actually just had a quarrel with her boyfriend. Hmmm… during lunch at the zoo she was chatting with the only male PLWHA who joined us for the trip… trying to get herself a new companion maybe to get over her frustration?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

ZOOming in the zoo...

As promised, here comes some of the photos of the Buddies Family Day in Taiping Zoo on 3rd August. Despite attending only half the day's events, I managed to get quite a lot of photos, but too many to post all here and of course, I can't post photos of the PLWHAs, right?

Welcome to Taiping Zoo...

From the monkey species...

One of the owl species.


All these while I thought I was a lazy bum. Look who's even lazier!



The chimps...

... and the champ!




Coming up next...



Meet the buaya jejulong


The benturongs usually only come out at night. We were lucky they came out of hiding that day for our view.



Ever wondered how the kambing gurun look like? Here's a pair.



Cute little eyes, don't you think?



The group of animals from the African Savannah



Ayoma... TIKUUUSS!! BESAR punya!




From one bear to another: "Aiseh, malunya. Diorang ambik gambar kita lah!"



One of the kids simply plucked a leaf from one of the plants around and threw it to this deer. NGAP! Telan. Senang betul bagi makan.




Me and a 4 month old baby. Baby lion la!
Nope, didn't even attempt to take pictures with the bapak lion. If I did, that would have probably been my last picture.... EVER!



An orang utan and an orang kampong... can you tell which is which?



And finally... an episode from FEAR FACTOR...
Yayy!! I finally did it! I touched a snake with my bare hands!!! Why didn't I put it around my neck? Wei, this one's a hefty 60 kgs lah!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Another break

Folks, I will be taking another break – hopefully to settle the matter which was supposed to have been settled during my last break!

I will still be joining the Buddies Family Day in Taiping Zoo tomorrow, although I will have to leave early (after lunch) as I need to go to KL after that. I hope that will not stop me from taking lots of photos at the zoo…

I may not have the time (and mood) to blog but if I have the opportunity I may just post some photos during my break. The “gossip” part of the Family Day (especially the part where Yah meets Lin!!) will have to come later, okay?

CIAO!!