With another unfamiliar territory to go to, I decided that for the sponsorship assessment visit to Ramli’s house, we’d better make a move in the morning.
So we (the vice-chairman, a trainee volunteer and myself) promised to meet up at the NGO center at 9 am. I got there a few minutes before 9 am and was happy to find that the other 2 were already there. I like punctual people!
Off we went, heading towards the highway, exiting Kuala Kangsar and on towards the K.Kangsar-Gerik highway. Unlike the old road which was rather narrow and winding, this new road (well, not THAT new lah, but considering that the last time I headed that way was quite some time back, it was new to me at least!) was a breeze. It didn’t really take that long to get to our destination. However, the new bridge near Lenggong was designed in such a way that we weren’t able to see the lake below. Otherwise the scenery would have been better.
As we got into the junction leading to Ramli’s kampong, we stopped by the roadside and I decided to call Ramli’s daughter, Amy. Their kampong is not listed in my GPS and so I wanted to get proper directions from her. The day before, I called the house to get the directions but Amy wasn’t around and her elder brother wasn’t too cooperative. All he said was, “Ada signboard tu ikut aje.”
Well, Amy didn’t give me directions either. She told me to wait at the junction and she’d ask her husband to meet us there. Based on that I figured it wouldn’t be easy to find on our own.
It took her husband more than 10 minutes to get to the junction where we were. Quite a young chap – must be in his early 20’s, just like Amy. Well, his father-in-law (Ramli) is also young – he’s only in his mid-40’s.
Anyway, true enough, I think if we had tried on our own to find the house, we would have needed more time since their address didn’t have any street name, just no. xxx and the name of the kampong. And there were so many lorongs, we wouldn’t be sure which lorong to turn into.
Ramli has a house which looks quite comfortable to live in. For someone working on his own, he must have earned quite well. Well enough that he could afford to have 4 wives! As mentioned in my earlier posting here, Ramli was probably infected by his 3rd wife, who eventually died of TB.
Ramli has eight children – 4 children (now adults) from his first wife, and 4 children, still schooling, from his second wife. Now that he is bedridden and his (still living) wives have all left him, Ramli no longer earns any income. No problems about the children from the first wife – they’re all adults and can take care of themselves. Our concern now is the children from the 2nd wife – the wife not only dumped him… she dumped 3 of the kids with him, and only took along the eldest child with her. With no income and he himself needing care, there’s no way he can take care of his children.
I didn’t see Ramli when I went into the house, only Amy and her young half-brothers were there to greet us. I asked where Ramli was, and all Amy said was, “Ayah meragam pagi ni.”
Meragam? Well, ever since her was bedridden, Ramli hadn’t been himself. He talks rubbish, he tears off the adult diapers on him, and he dirties himself and his mattress with his own sh*t.
Worse, the daughter taking care of him is pregnant and is due to give birth anytime. Imagine how tiring it is for her to take care of her father in such condition. To add to that, she’s also taking care of her younger siblings when she herself is financially dependent on her young husband. With a baby coming into their lives soon, things will get more difficult.
With Ramli not even capable of taking care of himself, when arranging for financial help for the children, we definitely couldn’t put Ramli’s name as guardian. My colleagues agreed that Amy would be the right person. But she had not photostated her own IC and neither had she opened a bank account; so we told her to do so once she has settled down after giving birth to her own baby.
While I was getting all the details of Amy’s siblings, a few lady neighbours came over. They frequent the house quite often to see how the children are doing. I had to be extra careful not to mention anything about Ramli’s HIV status. We just told them that we’re from a welfare organisation in Ipoh.
One of the ladies then asked, “Tak ada ke rumah boleh ambik orang sakit macam dia ni? Kesian tengok budak-budak ni ada mak bapak pun tak ambik peduli.” Amy herself had not even mentioned anything about sending her father to a welfare or shelter home, but it seems the neighbours themselves couldn’t bear seeing Amy being burdened by her own father.
We only stayed there for about half an hour or so. After getting whatever details and telling Amy of whatever other documents she’d have to prepare after she has given birth, we made a move. It didn’t feel too comfortable to stay there longer with the neighbours around.
It was still quite early, and so we decided to go to Taiping to meet up with a Taiping doctor who had earlier expressed her interest to become a volunteer. So I called her up to tell her we were just about to make a move and that we’d meet up with her in Taiping town.
And so yes, we met up with the lady doctor who ended up paying for our lunch!
Oops, hope I didn’t scare people from volunteering with our NGO. The doctor volunteered to pay for our lunch, ok? We don’t usually make it a practice to make a potential volunteer pay for our meals… hehehe…