I went to visit Sofie today. It has been a whole month since I last went to visit them – that was when I took the children shopping for their uniforms etc.
Sofie’s eldest son, Azlan, who sat for his PMR last year, got 1A,2B’s, 2C’s and 3D’s. The subject he scored A was for Kemahiran Teknikal. His school teacher and headmaster recommended that he applies for Sekolah Teknik boarding school and while he is reluctant to go (reason being there’d be nobody to take care of his mother at home in case she falls sick again), we are all encouraging him to go if he does indeed get the offer.
Azman, the second child, who had been staying at his school hostel at a nearby semi-residential school since last year, was home for the weekend when I went to visit today. He brought along a letter from the school asking for various fees, including for food. All in all, the total was RM240. Had I not visited them today, Sofie wouldn’t have highlighted the matter to me. To her I have been helping them a lot already and so she was not going to ask for more. Whatever fixed monthly amount that she had been getting she used to pay for workbooks etc. I told her we have a separate fund specifically for schooling needs, so the amount should be covered by this fund, not the monthly pocket money for the children that had been banked in to her account.
Saiful’s and Ika’s fees are not as much as their 2 older brothers’ fees. But these will still be covered by either our Sponsorship or Children Education Fund.
Other than that, Sofie has started looking around for a job. She has improved a whole lot health-wise (those who had been following her story may remember my description of how weak she was when I first met her) and although she still looks fragile, she is at least already capable of not only taking care of herself, but also cooking for her children.
I like her attitude. Unlike some people (I think you know who) who expects help to come in anytime they need it, Sofie on the other hand said, “Takkan sampai bila-bila saya nak tunggu bantuan Kak Afizah je!” OK, actually the bantuan doesn’t come from me, but delivered THROUGH me, but what to do… as the saying goes… “Lembu punya susu, si Pi dapat nama”. Hehehe…
The only problem now is that since the community there are all aware of Sofie’s health history, they are reluctant to give her a job. No, not because she has HIV, but because at one time Sofie’s condition was so bad, they are afraid she may end up like that again. All of them kept asking her, “Larat ke engkau nak kerja? Nanti kalau sakit balik macam mana?” With Sofie still looking rather fragile, so far no luck!
But guess what? Sofie did not give up just like that. She managed to get a “work-at-home” kinda job, inserting wires. For every 500 pieces, she’d be paid RM8. She just brought home the first batch of 500 today and she’s supposed to send them back tomorrow to earn her first RM8. If she feels she can cope, tomorrow she’ll ask to bring home more so she can earn more. With her children helping her out at home, I think she may be able to do more than just 500 a day.
See what I mean when I said I like her attitude? She TRIES to be as independent as she can be! Mrs K and Fuzi could learn a thing or two from her!
Sofie has applied for financial assistance from both Welfare and Baitulmal. Application submitted before Raya last year. So far, nobody has visited her at home to assess her situation. Thank goodness a few of my blog readers are helping the family out while the children's educational needs are covered by either our CEF or Sponsorship Fund. Otherwise by now, Sofie would have already asked her still schooling eldest son to work (she had that in mind when I visited her initially).
On another note, when I visited Sofie today, her sis-in-law (her ex-husband’s younger sister) and children were also there, visiting. Sofie selamba-ly introduced her to me, “Ni adik bekas suami saya. Dia tau lah perangai abang dia macam mana. Akak nak tau, akak tanyalah dia!”
Oh no thank you, I wasn’t there to gossip about her ex-husband. I was there to help them for their future.
Anyway, Sofie’s sis-in-law, Fiza, is also a single mother. Her late husband died 2 years ago, leaving her to fend for her 4 kids. Last year, due to health problems (Fiza has heart problems), she was unable to work, and needed her daughter, then in form 2, to take care of her at home. So the girl missed school for about 2 to 3 months. Her mistake was, she never informed her school. The school sent a show cause letter to Fiza at home, but due to her health problems, she did not respond. The girl didn’t bother to respond either. She just wanted to take care of her mother. Those lazy buggers at her school should have at least attempted to visit her at home to find out what her problem was. But no, they did not. When the show cause letter was not replied, they expelled the girl from school.
When she got a bit better, Fiza went to the school to explain matters and to get her daughter back into school. She asked the teacher in charge to visit them at home to find out for sure about their hardship. She begged the teacher to reconsider her daughter’s case. She told the teacher about her problems, yet all the teacher said was, “Itu masalah awak, bukan masalah saya!” I suppose since Fiza’s daughter isn’t so bright (she can’t even remember her own IC number without looking at her MyKad), maybe the teacher figured the school was better off without her. And maybe too, Fiza, who doesn’t earn much as a rubber tapper, had not been paying her children’s school fees.
So Fiza went to the Pejabat Pendidikan early this week to appeal her daughter’s case. She was told, “Tengoklah puan, kalau ada rezeki anak puan, bolehlah dia sekolah balik. Kalau tidak, taklah.” Like that oso can ah??
The school may have the right to take disciplinary action against errant students (AFTER they investigate the case thoroughly), but that doesn’t mean the children should be deprived of their basic rights to education.
The girl is supposed to be sitting for her PMR this year. I am not sure how long she has to wait to find out the result of her appeal (Fiza was told it may take at least a month), but the girl should be in school NOW.
With her income of about RM200 per month, Fiza’s application for Welfare Aid had been approved (after a few months applying). She’s using the monthly aid to pay for her house rental and utility bills. But I guess nothing much has changed, the monthly welfare aid can be very inconsistent. Fiza had also applied for Baitulmal help but was told that she didn’t qualify because she could still work. Well, she IS working, as a rubber tapper, despite her heart problem, but she doesn’t earn enough lah!
I already have my hands quite tied with all my HIV cases. But I don’t have the heart to buat donno with Fiza’s case. Telling her I can’t help her because she doesn’t have HIV would make me no different than the various agencies with their standard “ini bukan di bawah bidang kuasa kami” line. Hopefully I can help source some kind of help for her.