I finally managed to get a fellow volunteer who was able to join me for a sponsorship assessment visit on a weekday instead of a weekend. Of course, I had to ask one with flexi working hours, like myself.
So today, at 2 pm, the 2 of us headed off to north of Perak to visit Aza. As always, whenever heading to unfamiliar territory, I’d do my homework first. Last time I used to google for the place. Now that I have a GPS, I’d check on my GPS first. But the name of the kampong where I was heading today wasn’t on my GPS, and not even on google. The next course of action was to call Aza yesterday, asking for landmarks and directions. I then set my GPS to the landmark nearest to her kampong, and from then on, to look out for the other landmarks that she gave.
Halfway at the NSE, the error message appeared on my GPS. Hmmm… must be due to the updated map which I downloaded just 2 days ago. I decided to stop at the next R&R to restart the GPS. Just as I slowed down at the R&R, suddenly I heard a screeching sound. Alamak, panic seround. Please, please not the car! The sound stopped when the car stopped. After restarting the GPS (which worked well after that), I continued the journey… this time no more screeching sound. BUT I noticed the air from the aircond was getting less and less cooler. Ah, the screeching sound must have come from the aircond. The aircond had never given me problems before; but I did send the car for aircond servicing just last month! Aiya, like this baik tak payah service! But in a way I was relieved it was just the aircond – it would have been a problem if the car broke down at the highway!
As the journey continued, it got warmer. But the weather wasn’t too bad, so the “free sauna” was tolerable. :-)
Anyway, after reaching the landmark I set on my GPS, I could no longer depend on the GPS for further instructions, so I had to look around for the other landmarks and instructions given by Aza earlier. I must commend Aza – her instructions were quite clear and accurate. After getting into the lorong she told us to get into, I understood why it was not in the GPS. It’s not even called jalan or lorong, it’s called parit xxx (sorry, cannot lah mention real address here kan?) And it’s quite narrow, with padi fields on both sides.
Just to be sure I was on the right track, when we passed by a makcik on a bicycle who stopped by the roadside (erm, I mean ‘parit’side) I asked her where “parit xxx” was, and my, my, her instructions were good too! Yes, we were on the right path, but most of the time, based on my own experience, the instructions I’d usually get under such circumstances would be, “Jalan teruuuus jer…” This makcik’s instructions however were complete with, “sampai hujung tu, ikut titi, lepas titi ada surau..” Waaah, caya lah makcik! If I didn’t stop to ask her, I probably wouldn’t be too confident continuing taking the same route. You see, I had to drive quite far in just to reach the titi (small bridge) the makcik mentioned.
After the titi and upon reaching the surau, I called Aza for further instructions. You see, it wasn’t easy to see the house numbers in the kampong. Some are visible while some aren’t. And Aza told us to drive further until we reach a primary school. Yes, there’s a primary school in the middle of all those padi fields! No secondary school though.
A few hundred meters after the school, I stopped where I thought the house would logically be based on the house number given, and called Aza asking her to come out of her house. And whaddaya know, I had actually stopped right in front of her house! We’ve never met before but it wasn’t difficult for Aza to figure out 2 strangers looking like rusa masuk kampong. Oh ok, in our case it was Kenari masuk kampong (I was driving a Kenari meh…). Yayy!! We made it without making any wrong turnings whatsoever! Woo hoo!
Anyway, Aza is in her early 40’s. Her husband died about 9 years ago. Aza herself was diagnosed HIV+ when she was pregnant with her youngest child, who is now 10 (and free from the virus). Her husband had refused to go for check-ups until he was too weak. He died just 2 weeks after he went for blood tests.
So Aza was diagnosed HIV+ quite some time ago. But her case was never referred to us because we don’t have volunteers doing support services at Taiping Hospital where Aza goes for her appointments. Her case was referred to us this time by the doctor (the same specialist handles HIV cases in Ipoh and Taiping) because she felt Aza needed the help.
Aza’s 4 children are all schooling – 14, 13, 12 and 10. She stopped working last year after she started taking medication which caused her to feel drowsy and sleepy. Now she is much better and should be able to work again (provided she’s able to find one) BUT her mother, whom she’s staying with, is unwell and needs looking after. So for the moment, Aza is totally dependent on welfare aid of RM400/month and Baitulmal aid of RM150/month. The good thing is that she doesn’t have to pay house rental. But with the amount that she gets it’s not easy to support 6 people (including herself) staying in the household. What more during the beginning of each schooling year.
We can definitely cover the yearly schooling expenses with our Children Education Fund. Whether or not her children will be covered by our sponsorship, that will depend on whether I can get any sponsors!
OK, so one house visit done. 2 more to go… and the plan is, the one in Ipoh this Saturday, and the other one (almost reaching the East-West highway) on Sunday.
But tomorrow I’d better go to where I got my car aircond serviced last month – the guy better fix my aircond as I don’t intend to go through another free sauna…