I wasn't on clinic duty this week but when I went to our center yesterday, I was told by my colleague who was on duty on Wednesday, that they couldn't think of anybody else but me to be assigned to a new client they met.
Uh, oh... I already have the longest list of clients amongst all the volunteers, and yet they're adding more? Never mind, I think what I'll do is to hand over a few of my less problematic clients to other volunteers so I can concentrate on the problematic ones. The fact that my colleagues who were on clinic duty said they couldn't think of anybody else; only meant that this new client must be a problematic one.
True enough, this new client, who is young enough to be my daughter (she's 19) was crying when my colleagues met her at the clinic. Wow! My youngest adult client ever. The only younger clients I have are children - where my contacts are basically through their mothers. But for this girl, it's her I have to talk to and be a friend to.
Well, I haven't met or even called her yet. Usually we'd call our newly assigned clients within 2 weeks from the date of the first contact at the HIV clinic. But for this young girl, I'd better call her soon. Maybe by tomorrow.
You see, this girl, Sharifah, is not only young and single. She's also.... pregnant!
Oh dear, no wonder lah they passed the case to me. Despite never being pregnant myself, I have been handling quite a number of cases involving pregnant ladies. But for Sharifah's case, just like Zana's, being pregnant and single, and HIV positive to add, there are a whole lot of other problems involved.
From the basic info I managed to get from my colleague who spoke to Sharifah at the clinic, Sharifah is a student at a private college. She hails from another state, and her parents know about her pregnancy. While her mother is willing to accept her back and take care of the baby when she delivers, her father is not on talking terms with her. So I'm not too sure yet how the arrangement is going to be after she delivers.
Right now she's not staying with her parents because she's studying here in Ipoh. She's staying with a group of girls studying in the same college. They had no problem having her as their housemate earlier on despite knowing of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but after they found out that she was diagnosed HIV positive, they began boycotting her. They are scared to even use the same toilet with her. Thank goodness one of her housemates is rather sympathetic, so for the time being, this friend is her pillar of strength. That's the only friend she has for now.
Hmmm... maybe we Buddies need to find a way to give a talk on HIV/AIDS to students of that private college. Maybe we can approach the management of the college. Obviously awareness on this subject is still very poor.
Anyway, I'd better call Sharifah and arrange to meet up with her so we can have a heart to heart talk. She may have done a huge mistake in her life, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't care about her well being.
So yeah, I think I'll call her today or tomorrow. Hmmm... do I tell her to call me makcik or what??!
*Update: I managed to get hold of Sharifah today. Not wanting to call at the wrong time in case she was in a class or something, I sent her a text message around 5 pm, introducing myself and asking if we could meet up anytime soon. After an hour her reply came - telling me she needed to go back to her hometown today as she had just been dismissed from her college. I am not too sure if the dismissal was due to her HIV or her pregnancy or both. She was already pregnant when she first registered at the college... but she may not have declared her pregnancy then - I don't know for sure, I didn't get to meet her to have a heart to heart talk. However, I offered my help and told her to inform me if she needed assistance. She promised she'd call me back.