Some time last year I wrote about Saiful’s eye problem. The boy had been having vision problems since he was young but due to poverty and Sofie’s marital problems back then, she couldn’t afford the fares to bring the boy to the hospital for his check-ups.
When I started handling their case, initially there were too many problems that had to be settled, I wasn’t aware of Saiful’s vision problem. I did notice his small size though, at 11, he looked more like a 6 year old.
Later on, after the initial problems were settled, bit by bit I got to know of their other problems. Then one day Sofie told me about how she brought Saiful to an optical shop to get his eyes tested for free. The people there then told her that Saiful needed a pair of glasses ASAP as the power needed was already too high. They offered to do the glasses for him at RM200+ after student discount. Since Sofie didn’t have the money, she told them she’d have to think about it first. They wrote down Saiful’s details on a card and even gave them a discount voucher.
When I got to know about it, I decided to bring Saiful to another optician for a second opinion. The second optician didn’t dare make the glasses for him. They could easily make some money by saying the same thing the people at the first optical shop said, but they knew it would be in the boy’s best interest if he was brought to see an eye specialist first.
And so that was what I did. I brought him to the district hospital, and from there, I managed to get a referral letter to enable the boy to see the ophthalmologist at Ipoh GH. He had gone for at least 2 appointments already.
I went to Sofie’s house today to deliver this month’s supply of groceries. The moment I sat down, Ika, the youngest, excitedly told me that her brother had already got the prescription from the Ipoh GH to get his glasses done. Sofie just needed to go to any optical shop, just show the prescription, and make a pair of glasses for Saiful. But as usual, she didn’t have enough money to do so yet.
The moment I heard about it, I said, “Jom!”
Me: “Ye lah, sekaranglah. Nak tunggu siap seminggu pulak lagi.”
Sofie: “Tapi nak kena bayar deposit jugak dulu kan?”
Me: “Takpe, jangan risau. Akak bayar, lepas tu akak boleh claim balik nanti.”
So off we went (just me and Saiful since Sofie wasn’t feeling too well) to an optical shop in town recommended by Sofie. According to Sofie, the price there is quite reasonable.
The guy got a shock looking at the prescription given. He looked at the boy and when I told him the boy’s age, he got an even bigger shock.
Imagine this… the boy is 12 years old, with a weight of 21 kg (his growth got stunted ever since he was down with a high fever when he was about 3 years old) and the power needed for his glasses were 950 for one side and 750 for the other. And this was no cincai-cincai prescription, it was given by the specialist clinic at the Ipoh GH!
After choosing a frame for Saiful, the optician recommended that we do the thinner and more expensive type of glasses for Saiful. Yes, he could do the normal cheap one (RM50 for the glasses without frame), but with such high power, the glasses would be too thick. And for someone who had never worn glasses before despite his poor vision, a thick pair of glasses would be a problem for him to adjust to.
The optician then calculated the cost and told me that he’d charge RM220 frame + glasses. I started coaxing him to give some discount, telling him about the boy’s poor family.
Me: “Kesian la ini budak. Mata sudah teruk pun belum pernah pakai cermin mata laa.”
Optician: “Hah? Belum pernah pakai cermin mata ka? Apa pasal?”
Me: “Dia punya mak orang miskin, mana mampu mau bayar!”
Optician: “You dia punya cikgu ka?”
Me: “Bukan, saya dari NGO. Ni saya punya voluntary work saja.”
Optician: “OK, itu macam frame saya kasi free. You bayar RM150 saja. Lain kali kalau ada lagi ini macam punya kes, you bawak datang sini. Frame saya tak charge!”
The pair of glasses will be ready on Thursday next week. But I have a meeting on Thursday afternoon, so I paid a deposit of RM50 and told him I’d come on Friday instead.
So yep, in a week’s time, Saiful will start wearing glasses. I hope he will be able to adjust himself quick enough. The boy will be sitting for his UPSR this year…