Noticed the plural and singular words used in the title of my posting? No, no typo error there.
I was going through whatever documents given to me by Murni last week to enable me get the necessary assistance for her children's schooling needs. I can't consider her for our sponsorship programme yet before I visit her at home to assess her situation. However, she should easily qualify for our Children Education Fund which covers for one-off payments to the respective schools. No doubt there are no more school fees applicable, so what the schools are doing now is to use other terms as long as they don't use the word fee or "yuran". There's "Bayaran Runcit Sekolah", there's "Bayaran PIBG" which includes the so-called "derma" and not forgetting there's "Bayaran Pelbagai" to cover whatever else they couldn't find a category for.
The total amount that needs to be paid for Murni's 4 schooling children comes up to almost RM500. That's a whole lot of amount for someone who's not working, and whose husband is only doing odd jobs without any fixed income. And to add to that, Murni also has a 1 year old baby whom she can't breastfeed due to her HIV. And Murni's present husband is only the step-father to the 4 schooling children.
Speaking of which, all the while I thought Murni had 5 children from her first husband, then after he died, she remarried. And her present husband is the father to her youngest child. When I looked through copies of her children's birth certs, I was expecting to see 2 different father's names. So when I saw 3 different names, I got a little confused. Her 16 year old daughter has a different father's name, her next 3 children with a different father's name, and the youngest child has another father's name. It seems her present marriage is already Murni's third marriage. The eldest daughter is married, so her birth cert was not given to me... therefore I'm not too sure of her father's name. Who knows, for all I know the present marriage may be Murni's fourth! Besides, there is a 5 year age difference between her first and second daughter, as compared to the 1 to 2 years difference between her next 3 children.
But I'm not going to crack my head thinking about it. I don't usually ask those kind of personal questions unless I have a reason to. For the moment I don't see the need. All I know is that her present husband has been confirmed negative, so Murni must have got HIV from one of her earlier husbands - most likely the one who fathered 3 of her children.
On another note, remember Razif? The guy who didn't know how to break the news of his HIV status to his wife? Well, Razif did finally tell his wife about it although I am not too sure how he did it and how his wife took it. Both he and his wife attended a talk on HIV medication last year which confirmed the fact that he had already told his wife. However, I couldn't attend that talk as I had to be in KL the same day. As such I did not get to meet Razif nor his wife to find out more about the wife. My colleague who attended the talk couldn't give me much info - not even on the wife's HIV status. He only told me the wife "looked okay". Duh! Someone else was assigned as Razif's buddy so I didn't want to be menyibuking away calling him up.
To my surprise, Razif himself called me up this morning. He found out from Majid (one of our trainee volunteers who's also a PLHIV) about the PLHIV sharing session planned to be held next week at our center. Since Majid, who's still relatively new to our NGO, didn't dare give an affirmative "Yes, you can attend" answer, Razif called me up to ask if it is okay for him and his wife to attend. But of course, the main target audience for the session is the PLHIVs themselves, so we welcome Razif and wife very much if they intend to attend. I took the opportunity to ask Razif about his wife without making it too obvious that I wanted to know if his wife was tested positive. But the moment Razif mentioned that his wife's CD4 was about 200+, I immediately knew the answer. My next concern now, since the wife is positive, is whether the children are tested - especially the youngest child who is 6 years old this year. I personally know of 3 children who were only diagnosed +ve when they were about 5 or 6 years of age (because it was only then that the mothers were found out to be positive); so yes, I am very concerned about Razif's child.
Razif has yet to bring his children for blood tests. Hopefully he will do so soon. He no longer has the problem of having to break the news to his wife; so he shouldn't be delaying the tests for his children.
So, how did he finally tell his wife? And what was his wife's reaction when he told her? Frankly I don't know. I didn't want to ask Razif on the phone about such matters. Besides, I was in my office when he called this morning, what would my staff think if they heard me talking about any "pinggan mangkuk melayang" or similar situations. For the record, Razif got infected because of his extra marital activities, and when I met Razif the first time, he did mention that he wasn't sure if his wife knew about his many girlfriends.
Well, both Razif and his wife will be coming for the session next week, so I hope to be able to talk to his wife then, and assess for myself if the wife needs a buddy for herself.