I was getting ready to go to the hospital this morning (again??) when I heard the MI ringtone on my handphone. Sofie had called me a few times yesterday and so I thought it could be her again. But when I looked at the screen of my phone, it was Amy’s name that appeared.
Remember Amy? She’s the daughter from Ramli’s first marriage. Yes, Ramli, the guy who had 4 wives but all of them left him (one died of HIV related illness) when he became sick. Some of you may remember from my earlier posting about Ramli being sent to a shelter home as Amy could no longer cope – she just got married a year ago, she got to take care of 3 of her half-brothers (from Ramli’s second marriage, the wife not only left him, she left 3 of her kids as well, taking only her eldest son), and she got to take care of a bed-ridden father as well.
Despite sending her father to a shelter home, Amy still took over responsibility of her half brothers. Therefore I arranged to get some funding from MAF for the boys. I had asked her earlier to send me a copy of her IC and bank account details. This morning however, Amy called to inform me that her young brothers (all still schooling) are now at an orphanage. Not 3 of them, but 4. Apparently after a while Ramli’s 2nd wife sent her eldest son back to them as well!
According to Amy, a neighbour lodged a report to JKM saying that the boys were uncared for. Actually Amy stays with her husband in a different home within the same kampong. The boys stay at their father’s home, together with Amy’s older brother. Amy just goes to visit on and off. With the older brother sometimes suffering from depression, I guess the neighbour thought he was unfit to take care of the boys. Or maybe, who knows, the boys could have been naughty going around the kampong and so one of the neighbours thought they would be better off at an orphanage. And so the JKM people came over to visit, and decided to send all four of them to an orphanage. They still asked Amy to visit from time to time though.
Well, at least Amy was honest enough to tell me about it. She could have just kept quiet about it, letting me submit her application for financial assistance for the boys and getting the money for herself. She did not, and I respect her for that.
Anyway, back to the hospital. What was I doing at the hospital again when I was already on clinic duty yesterday?
Remember the 15 year old orphaned HIV+ girl I mentioned before? The one I’ve been trying to get hold of but to no avail? I had once before waited for her at the hospital on her appointment day but she didn’t come for that appointment. I got a male colleague of mine to try calling the uncle (it was the only contact number we had) but my colleague was not entertained by the uncle. We couldn’t visit without prior permission from the families and so visiting was out of the question.
But last month Dr Ker asked me to look into this case again because she really felt I needed to see this girl, Nalini, to assess her needs. And since her appointment was today, I went over to the hospital, just to see her.
By about 10 am or so, I was already at the hospital. I headed straight to the doctor’s room, asked the nurse if Nalini was already there. She wasn’t there yet. Oh no, I thought, please don’t let her miss her appointment again! As I was talking to the nurse, a call came in (the ID clinic line). The nurse picked it up, and then I heard her say, “Ni ha, Kak Afizah memang ada kat sini. Nak cakap dengan dia?” It was actually from Yah, who called to ask the nurse for my phone number. You people remember Yah right? The one who once had an affair with Mr Darling and then after that out of vengeance went on to sleep with one man after another to pass the virus to them?
She knew I was mad with her and so every time she called my colleague, she told my colleague “Saya dah baik dah sekarang ni!” Hehehe… well, I do hope she has changed. She is already working now at a factory, and with all her kids back home (before this she sent her 2 older daughters to an orphanage), she wouldn’t have much time for “extra-curricular” activities.
Today she didn’t expect me to be there when she called the nurse. I asked her if she had changed her phone number again and how come she lost my number. “Talipon yang sama kak. Entahlah, nombor akak hilang sendiri aje!” Waaa…. magic like that! Her children had been asking her if Makcik Afizah would be coming to buy school necessities for them. I used to do that before, but stopped doing that after she sent her daughters to the orphanage. Now that the girls are back staying with her, they’re already asking why I haven’t been visiting. The 2 girls are doing quite well in school and every time they got their results they’d always ask their mother to call me and inform me of their results. I haven’t seen them for quite some time, they must have grown! I will probably arrange to visit them next week.
Back to Nalini, after I ended that call, the nurse came over saying that Nalini had just arrived with her aunt. So straightaway she sent them to the counselling room to enable me to have a chat with them.
Nalini, whose father disappeared, and whose mother was a drug user, had been taken care by her grandma since she was still a baby. The grandma had been overprotective of her, and as a result, the girl is not independent at all. Although the family knew of Nalini’s mother HIV status, none of them brought Nalini herself for tests, as she looked so chubby and healthy, and the grandma said it was impossible that Nalini was infected.
It was only after her mother died last year that the aunts decided to get her tested, and that was when they found out she was HIV positive. Nalini herself decided to quit school since then and the aunts and uncles couldn’t say much as the grandma was on her side.
Now Nalini stays with her aunt so that her aunt could supervise her to ensure she’s compliant with her ARV medication. Since Nalini was no longer interested to go to school, I asked if she was interested to take up a short course to enhance her skills in whatever she was interested in. At least she’d have some basic skills which she could one day use to generate income for herself. Her aunt obviously agreed with me but Nalini herself just kept quiet. After coaxing her for a while, she finally said she’s iinterested in sewing and cooking. So okay, at least I know what to look around for.
I also got the aunt’s permission to visit them at home. In fact, although she doesn’t mind us visiting at her home, she suggested that for the first visit, we visit them at the grandma’s home so that we could talk to the grandma as well. Great, I thought that would be better too! I took down their address, and the aunt’s phone number. I told them that most likely a Tamil speaking volunteer will be calling them to arrange for the home visit.
I left the hospital immediately after meeting up with Nalini and her aunt. I wasn’t on clinic duty, so there was no point waiting for any other new cases.
I got home this afternoon, thinking that I’d just stay home for the rest of the day. But at about 2.10 pm, a call came in from JKM Perak. I actually had the opportunity to meet up with the state JKM director and a few of her officers yesterday, and today’s call came from one of the officers I met yesterday. He asked if I could come over to JKM today to fill up and sign a form to apply for NGO grant from the JKM. He said they had some balances of funds for this year which is ending soon and the director suggested to her officer to give the grant to us. But I would have to follow the procedures of filling in the form and submitting a few basic supporting documents. And since the final meeting for them to approve the grant for this year is tomorrow, he asked if I could come today to submit the necessary.
So off I went to our center to get the necessary documents… copies of our registration cert, constitution, last financial statement, latest bank statement and report of our activities. Not a problem at all, all those are easily available at our center. I just had to photostat them and then off I went to JKM to see the officer.
While filling in the form, the officer told me that the director was keen to give us the grant as during yesterday’s meet, she was quite impressed with the things we do.
Funding? Without much hassle? Hey, I’m all for it! It doesn’t matter how much we get. People want to give, we’ll take it!