When someone from the Perak Family Health Association called me some time back, telling me that one HIV+ guy was interested in Buddies, I thought it was another case of a PLHIV looking for support. The guy, apparently got hold of one of our rather old brochures (when Buddies was still under the then PFHA), which was why the call went to the PFHA instead.
The lady from PFHA then gave my number to this guy, Majid. So when Majid called me, I arranged for us to meet up at the Buddies centre. I figured I’d need to meet him first before I decide whom to assign as his buddy.
Well, we met up at the centre, and we talked. Indeed, he was looking for a buddy. He figured if he becomes our client, he could participate in whatever events we organise for our clients.
But, after talking to him, I thought he was more suitable as a volunteer rather than a client. He was, after all, looking for activities to keep himself busy. He was also rather cool and calm, and being HIV positive himself, he should be able to understand the other PLHIVs better.
So I asked him if he’d consider becoming a volunteer instead. After explaining to him what we volunteers usually do, Majid agreed to become a volunteer. We didn’t take him in as a client at all. We took him in straight away as a buddy.
And so Majid became a volunteer. He joined us for visits, he joined us for our annual family day, he joined us for talks and exhibitions, and more importantly, he also joined us for clinic duties. And I must say he did a good job. He did seem rather quiet, but he listens well, and that’s good, because we need good listeners.
It has been more than a year now. Majid has already been confirmed as a volunteer and has already been given a few cases to handle on his own without the need of having a senior volunteer to supervise him.
Becoming a volunteer has done wonders for him. He seemed to be more confident with himself. Definitely by doing voluntary work, he managed to become a more positive thinking person. And guess what? His CD4 rose from about 600+ when he was first diagnosed to over 1,000 now… without even having to start on anti-retrovirals!
Most of the time, when people are diagnosed HIV positive, their thinking becomes negative, especially when they don’t get the necessary support. Their condition then easily deteriorates.
But if they instead choose to think positively, and act positively, like what Majid did, look what has become of him now!
I wish more PLHIVs would come forward and become volunteers. However, I know for a fact many of the lady PLHIVs under me are not ready to become volunteers… they still need help themselves to become independent!