I went to visit Sofie again today. This time I went together with 2 colleagues, to fulfil the requirement of our sponsorship assessment visit.
This afternoon, after lunch and zohor prayer, off I went to fetch my 2 colleagues first. This time I drove confidently to Sofie's house (I mean her sister's house) as I had visited them just over a week ago. Since it is school holidays, most of the children are home. Only Sofie's eldest son had to go to school. He is in form 3 this year and the school organized a motivational programme for the exam year students.
Sofie was at the very same spot I saw her the last time. I guess that's her "port" at the house. I was rather surprised when she said she wanted to move to the house in front of her sister's house. And I thought she had no problems with her sister and brother-in-law?
Indeed, her sister and BIL are nice people who are not complaining about helping out Sofie and the children. But apparently her sister's eldest daughter, a 17 year old, didn't seem to be happy about having 5 additional people around the house. And she knows about her aunt's HIV status. The girl made it obvious she's not happy having them around, talking about the burden her family has to face just to support Sofie and the children. Sometimes when the adults aren't around, she also slaps Sofie's kids.
"Tak tau lah kak. Kakak dengan abang ipar saya memang baik. Kakak saya tak nak saya pindah, dia kata kat rumah ni senang dia nak jaga saya. Tapi saya tak tahan anak sedara saya dah mula mengungkit macam-macam. Anak-anak saya pun selalu mengadu kena marah, kena pukul."
It must be tough for Sofie. In a way, maybe it is best for Sofie and her children to stay in a separate house. And since the house she plans to rent is right in front of her sister's house, it is easy for her sister to look after her if necessary. But the house rental is about RM130 a month, and Sofie is too weak to work. How on earth is she supposed to pay for the rent? That was the exact question her sister asked her when she mentioned she wanted to move.
Well, Sofie's plan is to get her eldest son (the one sitting for PMR this year) to work part time after school hours. Sofie herself used to work at a mini market before. She intends to ask the owner to let her son work on part time basis so he can earn some money for the family.
Adoi, the boy is sitting for PMR this year lah!
Whatever it is, the plan is not final yet. My colleague will help her to apply for Welfare aid. She definitely deserves the help. She used to get a Bantuan Am of RM70 per month 4 years ago, but when the welfare officers went to visit her, she was at her workplace ie helping out at a canteen. The officers went to visit her at the canteen, saw her working there, and concluded that she no longer qualified for the monthly aid. They didn't even bother to ask how much she was paid. She was then only paid RM15 a day. It's not like they were giving her RM700 per month... only a measly RM70. In the first place, she should have been considered for Bantuan Kanak-kanak of RM100 per child per month. Sigh!
Sofie used to have a motorbike before this when she was still married. She worked hard to buy it to make it easier for her to send her children to school. But her husband ended up selling the motorbike to get some money. I initially thought he was on drugs. I was wrong. He used the money to have fun - he slept around not just with women but also with Mak Nyahs. Sofie's sister had long ago told Sofie to leave her good-for-nothing husband - apparently a few times she saw Sofie's husband going around with other women. But you know how it is... people like Sofie would always try to save their marriage no matter what! Until it is too late, that is...
Another concern is that Sofie's 3rd child, her 11 year son seemed to have other problems. When my colleague saw him, she thought the boy was Sofie's youngest. He looked smaller than Sofie's 7 year old daughter. According to Sofie, when the boy was 2, once he had very high fever, and after that he seemed to have VERY slow growth. And he has eye problems too. He used to go to Ipoh GH to see the eye specialist, but since Sofie got ill, she has stopped taking him to the hospital. That's another thing we have to help them out with.
And I bet the next time I see Sofie, I'd find some other problems as well...