I was relaxing at home on Sunday night when a fellow volunteer sent me a text message. She received a text message from Shila informing that Laila (Shila's little girl) was taken ill but had not been taken to any clinic as Shila didn't have enough money. My colleague was in Penang then and so she asked if I could help out. Shila is not my client but we do keep in touch from time to time as Laila is under our Education Sponsorship for Children programme.
I then called Shila to find out the situation. Apparently Laila was ill since Friday - she was a bit better when I called but according to Shila, her fever would go up in the middle of the night. Shila had given her some children aspirin. I told Shila I'd visit them the next day (Monday) as it was a public holiday.
So after zuhr prayer on Monday, I drove off to my NGO center to get some groceries donated by some good Samaritans to bring along with me to Shila's house. Managed to grab some noodles, flour, sugar, milk, and some canned food.
As I approached Shila's kampong, I saw this...
Notice the pink panther? What on earth was he doing hanging on the gate I wonder... (sorry, took this with my handphone camera so couldn't zoom, and cropping to enlarge resulted in a blurry pic)
When I got to Shila's house, they (Shila, her mom & sister, and a few kids) were watching TV. Laila was there too and she looked okay. Shila said Laila seemed much better that day. The day before the little girl was worried she may have to miss school if her fever continues. She may just be an average student in school, but she loves going to school and would feel disappointed if she has to give school a miss for whatever reason.
Before I forgot, I quickly reimbursed Shila with whatever amount she spent to buy Laila's schooling needs at the beginning of the year. It was RM115, but it was such a big amount for her. The moment I gave her the money, she told her little girl, "OK, esok kita boleh beli kasut sekolah."
"Laaa... kasut sekolah tak beli lagi ke?" I asked.
"Belum kak, tak cukup duit. Hari tu ingat nak guna je kasut lama tu, tapi kaki dia dah besar pulak. Ketat kasut tu. Cikgu sekolah ada bagi bantuan sepasang baju dengan sepasang kasut sekolah, tapi kasutnya besar le pulak."
But Shila & her mom were thankful anyway, and they figured they'd just keep the new pair of shoes for Laila's future use.
Shila usually helps out her mother selling kuih at a nearby stall. But her mother had fallen ill recently, causing her to take a break from selling kuih for a whole week, and as such they were earning much lesser than their already small income. I reminded Shila to immediately inform me if she needed anything for Laila's schooling needs as the girl is under our Sponsorship programme.
Later when I got home, I received a text message from Asiah. She was coming to Ipoh GH for her blood test the next day and asked if I was free to meet her. She wanted to apply for our Children Education Fund. I told her to call me once she was done. It's not so hectic at the office at the moment so I could afford to go out for while to meet up with my PLHIV clients.
So yesterday when I received her call, I immediately asked, "Dah selesai?"
"Selesai apanya! Saya tak tau saya kena puasa, jadi saya gi sarapan dulu lah!"
She will have to come another day for the blood test, only this time she'd better remember not to eat first. Since her appointment with the doctor is in March, there is still time for her to do the blood test.
Anyway, I asked if she came with her husband, and when she said yes, I asked if they could come to a certain restaurant near my office as they'd still need to pass this way to go home. I told her to call me again once she got here so I could just walk down from my office. And when she did call and I went down, Asiah was alone. Her husband, as usual, made his disappearing act. Shy or whatever, I'm not sure. I saw him once before - eyes, nose, mouth, all in the proper places. Why he'd avoid meeting any of Asiah's friends, only he knows.
For those who may have missed Asiah's story, Asiah actually got HIV from her ex-husband, who was an injecting drug user. The husband I mentioned in the above paragraph is actually her second husband. Asiah is his second wife - and she still is number 2. When she started losing weight, her friends and relatives thought it was because of her problems being wife no. 2. Her husband, an elderly man, is quite a jealous type. With a wife as beautiful as Asiah (I tell you she's got wonderful complexion) I suppose he just didn't feel secure. So, he wouldn't let Asiah join any of our functions (like our annual family day) and he wouldn't want to join either (even just to meet me alone he avoided, what more to meet the rest of my gang). So, Asiah is in a way trapped in an enclosure set by her husband. Why she married him in the first place I'm not sure. For financial reasons? Asiah still has to work to support her own children. Her husband, an elderly man with no pension (he used to kerja kampong) couldn't be depended on financially especially when he also has his first wife to take care of. For love? She always seem so tensed up if she needs to get his permission for anything. For security reasons? Gee, I don't know. Maybe she just wanted to let go of her "janda" title. There tend to be many jealous wives out there when there is a beautiful janda around. Yeah, maybe that's why she accepted his marriage proposal.
Maybe laa... I don't really know. Oh well...