After finding out last week that Sofie could sew but had not been doing so for a long time because she didn’t have a sewing machine, I started looking around for used sewing machines no longer used by their owners. I had 3 offers of the electrical sewing machines, but one was too far up north, the other two, after trying, didn’t seem to work. I’m not sure what was wrong with the first one, probably because it hadn’t been used for such a long time. The second one, probably the motor needs replacement.
Then my mother suggested that I take a look at her old mechanical sewing machine (mesin kayuh) which by the way, is older than I am! After testing it for a while, it did seem to work, it just needed some minor repairs which I could do myself. I then texted Sofie, asking if she wanted the mechanical or electrical sewing machine. Sofie, as always, wasn’t choosy. She said any type would do but since she had only used a mechanical sewing machine before, maybe the mechanical one would be better. Besides, there are limited electrical sockets at her present rented house, adding another electrical item would mean more extension wire needed… and by the looks of the house, nope, it’s not safe.
So yep, the old mechanical sewing machine it was. I had told Sofie yesterday I would be delivering the sewing machine this morning, and I also told her to make sure at least one of her 2 older boys, aged 16 and 14, to be home to help me carry the heavy and bulky sewing machine out of my car.
As for carrying the sewing machine into my car this morning, I didn’t have much choice. Only my 77 year old mother and myself were home, and I wasn’t about to get her to help me carry the extra heavy machine (it is an old machine, old enough to be called antique, you know how solid and heavy they can be!). And so I had to lift it into my car all by myself.
Just as I was about to reach Sofie’s house, I saw Ika her youngest girl cycling, heading towards her grandma’s house. The moment she saw my car, immediately she headed back home. And yes, thank goodness, Azlan and Azman, the 2 teenage boys, were home. I got them to carry the sewing machine out of my car into their house. I just helped them to set up the machine properly, and told Sofie to test it out. Immediately Azman took out his shorts which needed repair (entah macam mana dia pakai seluar entah, rabak celah kangkang!) Satisfied that the stitches looked good, I headed further north.
First, to meet up with a new volunteer who stays in the town I was heading to. Then I got the new volunteer to follow me to a nearby orang asli village to meet a new client. I had not met this client before, but Dr Ker from the Ipoh HIV Clinic had recommended that I help the lady out. She’s 3 months pregnant, her husband died 3 months ago, and she already has 4 other children.
Off we went… the new volunteer knew roughly where the area was, but wasn’t too sure about the exact location of the kampong. After asking around, we did manage to find the way into the kampong. But it was a long drive in, with trees left and right, with no single house in sight, I think had I gone alone, I probably wouldn’t dare venture further in all by myself.
From my rear-view mirror, I saw a guy on a motorbike, so I stopped him and asked. Apparently he was an Indonesian worker who didn’t really know the who’s who in the kampong, but he told me that it was an Orang Asli area. Well, at least I knew I was at the right place, since Dr Ker had mentioned to me that the lady was an Orang Asli. I couldn’t call the lady as she doesn’t have a phone.
We just drove further in until we reached a point where there were 3 junctions. Which one were we to follow? The Indonesian guy, who had followed us, then stopped to tell us to follow the middle lane as that lane led to the area where most of the OAs are. After thanking him and he rode off, we then drove on following the middle lane as suggested. After reaching a group of houses, I stopped and my colleague got down to ask 2 men whom we saw chatting outside a house on our left. The moment my colleague mentioned the name of the lady we were looking for, the men showed a house on our right, just where we stopped! Woohoo!
And here’s the scenery behind the house…
The lady, Ina, was quite receptive. After explaining to her who we were and why we were there, I got her to provide us with all the particulars needed. Sadly, Ina’s 3 elder kids are not schooling. I asked if they would like to go back to school, Ina said she had already coaxed them to do so, but after leaving school for some time already, the kids are quite reluctant. However, she has a 6 year old child who should start schooling next year, and so I told her to please send the child to school. Ina said she would, and I assured her that if the child needed any financial assistance for his schooling, I could arrange for financial aid. We had always been extra supportive of children’s educational needs.
I couldn’t ask her much on whether she understood about her HIV and all the implications especially on the baby she’s due to deliver in 6 months time, but after a while, quite a number of her neighbors and the neighborhood kids came by. They are always excited seeing an outsider coming to visit, and seeing an unfamiliar Kenari there triggered their interest.
Since I needed the photocopy of all the supporting documents, and there was no nearby photostating facility available, a neighbor who’s also a relative of hers, brought the documents to town (which was quite far) to be photostated. He went on his motorbike.
Meanwhile, I got down to have a look around since it’s not often that I get to visit an Orang Asli village. The only time I went before this was when we Buddies gave a talk at another OA village late last year. Even then, for that one, we didn’t really have to drive so far in as the place was quite near the main road.
After Ina’s relative came back from town with the photostated documents, we made a move; but not before leaving her with a box of groceries that I had brought along in my car plus a hari raya packet containing some cash, as an amanah handed over to me by a friend wanting me to distribute the cash to deserving families.
Off we went, this time happily smiling after a mission accomplished…