THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Friday, 30 April 2010

A pair of glasses for Saiful

Some time last year I wrote about Saiful’s eye problem. The boy had been having vision problems since he was young but due to poverty and Sofie’s marital problems back then, she couldn’t afford the fares to bring the boy to the hospital for his check-ups.

When I started handling their case, initially there were too many problems that had to be settled, I wasn’t aware of Saiful’s vision problem. I did notice his small size though, at 11, he looked more like a 6 year old.

Later on, after the initial problems were settled, bit by bit I got to know of their other problems. Then one day Sofie told me about how she brought Saiful to an optical shop to get his eyes tested for free. The people there then told her that Saiful needed a pair of glasses ASAP as the power needed was already too high. They offered to do the glasses for him at RM200+ after student discount. Since Sofie didn’t have the money, she told them she’d have to think about it first. They wrote down Saiful’s details on a card and even gave them a discount voucher.

When I got to know about it, I decided to bring Saiful to another optician for a second opinion. The second optician didn’t dare make the glasses for him. They could easily make some money by saying the same thing the people at the first optical shop said, but they knew it would be in the boy’s best interest if he was brought to see an eye specialist first.

And so that was what I did. I brought him to the district hospital, and from there, I managed to get a referral letter to enable the boy to see the ophthalmologist  at Ipoh GH. He had gone for at least 2 appointments already.

I went to Sofie’s house today to deliver this month’s supply of groceries. The moment I sat down, Ika, the youngest, excitedly told me that her brother had already got the prescription from the Ipoh GH to get his glasses done. Sofie just needed to go to any optical shop, just show the prescription, and make a pair of glasses for Saiful. But as usual, she didn’t have enough money to do so yet.

The moment I heard about it, I said, “Jom!”

Saiful: “Sekarang?”

Me: “Ye lah, sekaranglah. Nak tunggu siap seminggu pulak lagi.”

Sofie: “Tapi nak kena bayar deposit jugak dulu kan?”

Me: “Takpe, jangan risau. Akak bayar, lepas tu akak boleh claim balik nanti.”

So off we went (just me and Saiful since Sofie wasn’t feeling too well) to an optical shop in town recommended by Sofie. According to Sofie, the price there is quite reasonable.

The guy got a shock looking at the prescription given. He looked at the boy and when I told him the boy’s age, he got an even bigger shock.

Imagine this… the boy is 12 years old, with a weight of 21 kg (his growth got stunted ever since he was down with a high fever when he was about 3 years old) and the power needed for his glasses were 950 for one side and 750 for the other. And this was no cincai-cincai prescription, it was given by the specialist clinic at the Ipoh GH!

After choosing a frame for Saiful, the optician recommended that we do the thinner and more expensive type of glasses for Saiful. Yes, he could do the normal cheap one (RM50 for the glasses without frame), but with such high power, the glasses would be too thick. And for someone who had never worn glasses before despite his poor vision, a thick pair of glasses would be a problem for him to adjust to.

The optician then calculated the cost and told me that he’d charge RM220 frame + glasses. I started coaxing him to give some discount, telling him about the boy’s poor family.

Me: “Kesian la ini budak. Mata sudah teruk pun belum pernah pakai cermin mata laa.”

Optician: “Hah? Belum pernah pakai cermin mata ka? Apa pasal?”

Me: “Dia punya mak orang miskin, mana mampu mau bayar!”

Optician: “You dia punya cikgu ka?”

Me: “Bukan, saya dari NGO. Ni saya punya voluntary work saja.”

Optician: “OK, itu macam frame saya kasi free. You bayar RM150 saja. Lain kali kalau ada lagi ini macam punya kes, you bawak datang sini. Frame saya tak charge!”

Woohoo!!

The pair of glasses will be ready on Thursday next week. But I have a meeting on Thursday afternoon, so I paid a deposit of RM50 and told him I’d come on Friday instead.

So yep, in a week’s time, Saiful will start wearing glasses. I hope he will be able to adjust himself quick enough. The boy will be sitting for his UPSR this year…

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Melepaskan anjing tersepit

Belum sempat duduk lama setelah kembali ke rumah petang tadi, telefon tangan saya berbunyi. Dari nada dering yang kedengaran, saya sudah mengetahui panggilan itu datangnya dari salah sebuah perlindungan yang pernah saya kunjungi. Dan seperti yang saya duga, panggilan itu datangnya dari Kak Ana, yang menjaga rumah perlindungan di mana pernah saya menghantar Anita dan anaknya serta Sharifah dan Cek Mek ku yang comel.

Tenang saja suara Kak Ana ketika itu, menceritakan perihal Anita yang telah ke negeri asalnya di selatan tanahair untuk menghadiri majlis perkahwinan anak saudaranya. Menurut Kak Ana, setelah 3 minggu di sana, Anita telah membuat keputusan untuk tinggal terus dengan kakaknya di sana. Dari satu segi, syukur alhamdulillah Anita akan tinggal semula bersama keluarganya. Namun mengapa sebelum ini Anita tidak mahu tinggal di sana? Dan mengapa sebelum ini kakaknya pernah memberitahu bahawa beliau tidak mampu untuk menanggung Anita?

Kak Ana telah mencadangkan kepada Anita agar pulang dahulu semula ke rumah perlindungan untuk menyelesaikan segala urusan surat-menyurat dan temujanji hospital. Kak Ana juga telah mencadangkan kepada Anita agar menelefon dan membincangkan soal ini dengan saya terlebih dahulu. Seperti lazimnya, oleh kerana saya yang menghantar Anita dan anakknya ke situ, Kak Ana akan memberitahu saya terlebih dahulu sekiranya terdapat apa-apa perkembangan, sama ada menyenangkan atau tidak. Sekurang-kurangnya jika Anita menelefon saya kemudian, saya sudahpun mengetahui sedikit-sebanyak latarbelakang cerita.

Setelah menunaikan solat asar, saya dapati telefon tangan saya menyalakan lampu merah – bererti terdapat panggilan yang tidak dijawab. Terdapat 2 panggilan dari Kak Ana dan satu panggilan dari nombor yang tidak saya kenali. Dan satu SMS dari nombor yang sama meminta saya menelefon kembali. Walaupun nama tidak disebut, saya dapat mengagak panggilan tersebut dari Anita.

Berkali-kali saya mencuba untuk menelefon nombor berkenaan, namun panggilan terus disambung ke peti suara (dan saya tidak suka bercakap dengan mesin!). Akhirnya saya hanya menghantar mesej mengatakan bahawa saya telah cuba menelefon tetapi tidak berjaya.

Lalu saya terus menelefon Kak Ana. Apa yang nyata, suara Kak Ana tidak lagi setenang panggilan yang awal tadi.

Rupanya entah apa yang diceritakan oleh Anita kepada kakaknya sehingga kakaknya terus menelefon Kak Ana bukan sekadar untuk memarahi, malah memaki-hamun Kak Ana sehingga pada satu ketika mengibaratkan Kak Ana seperti lembu dan kemudian mengibaratkan Kak Ana seperti syaitan bertopengkan manusia. Entah apa juga diceritakan oleh Anita kepada kakaknya sehingga kakaknya mengugut untuk mengambil tindakan mahkamah ke atas Kak Ana kerana enggan menyerahkan dokumen-dokumen Anita dan anaknya.

Aik? Bila masa pula Kak Ana enggan menyerahkan dokumen-dokumen tersebut? Kak Ana cuma meminta Anita untuk kembali dahulu ke rumah perlindungan untuk menyelesaikan dahulu segala urusan surat-menyurat dan temujanji hospital. Akhirnya Kak Ana memberitahu Anita bahawa oleh kerana saya yang membawa Anita ke rumah perlindungan itu, maka beliau akan menyerahkan segala dokumen kepada saya dan Anita perlu mengambilnya dari saya.

Setelah bercakap dengan Kak Ana, saya cuba menelefon Anita sekali lagi. Kali ini panggilan dijawab. Sedikitpun tidak saya sebut mengenai apa yang telah diceritakan oleh Kak Ana kepada saya. Walaupun saya mempercayai Kak Ana, namun saya ingin mendengar versi cerita Anita.

Tidak banyak diceritakan Anita. Dia cuma menyebut bahawa dia telah berpindah semula ke negeri asalnya dan ingin mengambil semula dokumen-dokumen yang disimpan di tempat Kak Ana. Anita meminta bantuan saya untuk mengirimkan dokumen-dokumen berkenaan kepadanya.

Tidak lama kemudian, Kak Ana menelefon saya sekali lagi. Kali ini teresak-esak menangis. Rupanya seorang lagi kakak Anita pula menelefon untuk memaki-hamun Kak Ana. Oleh kerana tidak lagi dapat menahan geram, Kak Ana mengambil keputusan untuk menghantar dokumen-dokumen Anita kepada saya hari ini juga. Saya cuba menasihatkan Kak Ana agar tidak tergesa-gesa. Saya ingin mencadangkan kepadanya agar mengambil wudu’ dan bertenang dahulu sebelum mengambil apa-apa keputusan, namun Kak Ana ketika itu sudahpun di dalam perjalanan ke Ipoh semata-mata untuk menyerahkan dokumen-dokumen tersebut kepada saya malam ini juga!

Kesian Kak Ana. Silapnya hanyalah kerana dia terlalu mengambil berat. Walaupun Anita pernah berkasar dengannya sebelum ini di rumah berkenaan, Kak Ana terus melindungi dan membimbingnya. Namun ini pula balasan yang diterima.

Dan Anita pula? Apa yang saya nampak, Anita inginkan kebebasan. Dan kehidupan di rumah perlindungan tersebut baginya terlalu mengongkong. Dia inginkan tempat untuk berlindung dan pada masa yang sama dia ingin kebebasan untuk keluar masuk sesuka hatinya. BANYAK CANTIK LU PUNYA MUKA! Entah berapa lama pula dia akan tahan untuk tinggal di rumah kakaknya sebelum berpindah pula ke tempat lain. Benar-benar tidak mengenang budi!

Saya pasti Kak Ana menolong selama ini bukan untuk dikenang budinya. Namun bukanlah juga maki-hamun yang dijangka.

Sabarlah Kak Ana. Kita telah mencuba. Mungkin kita gagal membimbing Anita, tapi ramai lagi insan di luar sana yang masih memerlukan bantuan kita. Janganlah satu kegagalan ini melemahkan semangat kita.

Teruskanlah perjuangan Kak Ana untuk membantu insan-insan yang memerlukan bantuan dan bimbingan…

Sunday, 25 April 2010

This and that…

Before becoming the chair of Buddies, I was the treasurer. And with accounting being part of my job at the office (other than company secretarial work), I set up a proper system using excel, with all the formulas entered, making it easier for whoever would be entering the transactions. Just enter the transactions on one sheet, and the other sheets with the monthly reports would be automatically calculated.

We’ve had 2 treasurers after me and I’ve been teaching them how to enter the transactions. Somehow every time a new treasurer is elected, I would end up doing most of the job during the initial stages.

Anyway, although the excel file had been formatted, I’d still need to check the accounts on monthly basis as usually there’d still be something that doesn’t balance somewhere.

Well, last week I was at the center to check the accounts (the treasurer does the accounts at night after work while I usually go to the center during afternoons). I have to admit there is improvement – at least most of the transactions are now entered correctly, unlike the initial stages when I myself had difficulty trying to figure out the wrongly entered transactions.

Then I got to the bank reconciliation page that was printed out and noticed that the “balance as per cash book” didn’t seem to tally. But below that was written in pencil 2 more transactions for unpresented cheques, with a new balance which tallies with the cash book. And below that was a note;

*Not enough rows to enter all unpresented cheques.*

Well yeah, in the bank reconciliation page that I prepared, there were 5 rows (I think) for the unpresented cheques column. The treasurer needed 2 more rows.

Adusss! The file was in excel format la macha! All you had to do was to insert rows la!! Yennadey!!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. The least he could have done was to ASK…

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It is already the last week of the month. Aiyo, that means it is already time for the grocery deliveries to Sofie’s and Lin’s families. So soon??? I haven’t even written the list of items needed to be given to the minimarket owner. I’d better do so within these next few days. Hopefully I can do my deliveries on Thursday and Friday. Will be off to Seremban on Saturday and hopefully Sunday can be my rest day.

The next weekend, there will be an exhibition at a hotel in Ipoh. I will man (woman?) the booth during one of the Saturday shifts. Sunday is out as I (and 4 other volunteers) will be involved in the charity run. Initially I managed to get 4 runners (including myself) with 3 females and 1 male. The guy and 2 of the ladies are regulars at runs of 10km or more (in fact the guy asked if he could run 10km when I told him we’d need to run 2 km each!). So there shouldn’t be any problem for them running the 2 km. As for myself, well I was a school runner once (please place more emphasis on the past tense rather than subject matter) but yes, I’ve been trying to keep myself fit by working out a bit more than usual sweating it out every morning after my subuh prayer.

As mentioned in my previous posting, I walked an extra few hundred meters to the hospital during my clinic duty (about 800 meters to be exact) and before that when I went to visit Ijam when he was warded for dengue, I used the stairs all the way to the 6th floor. And this morning, mowing the lawn wasn’t so tiring. And insyaAllah, I will be playing volleyball this Saturday. Hope my feet will not terpele’ot before the run…

Anyway, we need 5 runners to complete a team for the charity run. And since there was only 1 guy, I asked the guy to coax another male volunteer to join the run. But the guys are either not available on that day, while the ones who are available, are mostly kaki bangku. Finally I approached a student volunteer (she has volunteered to help us with whatever activities she could take part in before she continues her studies in August and she helped during our exhibition last month) and she immediately agreed to participate. So yeah, now we have a team of 4 females and 1 male.

Here’s the route of the run. Each runner to go one whole round…

run route

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A day at the clinic

I was on clinic duty again today. Anticipating the difficulty of finding a parking space, and in view of the fact that my car was due for servicing, I decided to send my car to the service center, and then walk an extra few hundred meters to the hospital. With a volleyball game coming up on Saturday next week and the charity run the week after, I figured I’d need the extra exercise as well. As a matter of fact, last week when I went to visit Ijam at the ward, I actually used the stairs all the way up to the 6th floor. (Oh, I didn’t really use the stairs for the exercise, but only 2 lifts were working and there were soooo many people waiting!) I doubt any kilos were shed though… :)

Anyway, there weren’t many new cases referred to us today. There was only one new case, that of a 55 year old single man. A positive thinking man, but either totally unaware of how HIV spreads, or simply in denial of how he got infected. He claimed he must have got HIV through dusts… oh dear…

Before that one lady, Helena, a long lost client, came into the room. My colleague who was assigned as her buddy, had been trying to get hold of her, but other than calls that didn’t get through, visits to her house showed that she no longer lived there. We then lost touch with her. Before this, even when we were in touch with her, it was so difficult to get her to go for her hospital appointments. She didn’t even bring her children for tests, not even the youngest one, who was still a baby. Now the youngest is already 4. I was rather surprised when she told me today that while her 3 younger children were tested negative, her eldest daughter, 9, was the one infected. And the girl had not started medication yet because it was only recently that she started coming back for her appointments. I reminded her not to miss any more appointments. If she doesn’t care about herself, at least give her daughter the chance to access proper treatment!

Later, while I was chatting with my fellow volunteers, a familiar cute looking guy walked in with SN. Guess who? Remember D, the maknyah whom I visited at a district hospital last year? Yep, it was him! In full men’s (uh, boy’s?) attire. And he looked a whole lot better, definitely much better than when I saw him at the district hospital. And of course, he didn’t seem as schizophrenic as he seemed back then. He was even able to come alone, without his mother accompanying. I asked if he remembered me and he did. I asked how he was and it was SN who jokingly answered, “Kalau dia tak sihat, tarik je telinga dia!” I then reminded him to make sure not to miss any appointments, and immediately SN said, “Tapi engkau jangan datang pakai skirt pulak tau. Akak lari nanti!”

I was truly happy to see his condition improve by leaps and bounds. Alhamdulillah.

After a while SN came in again, this time with a nurse from the unit where blood tests are done. They asked if I had Sharifah’s number because the number in SN’s record is the old number. In case you have forgotten, Sharifah is Cek Mek’s mother. Sharifah had gone for her blood test earlier, but had left her appointment letter there. They figured Sharifah wouldn’t have gone too far yet, so they asked me to call her and get the letter. I tried calling a few times but my calls were not answered. Then I tried calling Kak Ana, because usually if Sharifah comes over for her appointment, she’d stay over at Kak Ana’s place so she could be with her baby as well. Even Kak Ana didn’t answer my call. Finally I just decided to send a text message to Kak Ana. Within minutes, Sharifah called back. They were still within the hospital compounds. At the cafeteria to be exact. So I told her to go back to get the letter.

There were no more cases referred to us after that, but SN did want to see me to discuss the possibility of sending volunteers to the Taiping HIV clinic. Dr Ker, the specialist in charge, goes there every 4th Tuesday of each month and to Teluk Intan every 2nd Tuesday. She could see the support from Buddies in Ipoh GH, and from Pusat Komuniti Intan in Teluk Intan, but there is no support group in Taiping hospital. Dr Ker mentioned that there is an organisation willing to chip in financially for that purpose, but they still need people to run the support service. I told Dr Ker I may discuss the matter further in our next board meeting. Maybe what we can do initially is to take turns to go there (it’s only once a month anyway) and at the same time rope in volunteers from that area. After a while, after they are already well trained, we can leave the Taiping HIV clinic to the Taiping volunteers! Well, let’s see how it goes…

We also discussed about Zali. Remember Zali, the guy whose wife purportedly left him and the kids? As I mentioned here, although at first we believed his story, later on due to inconsistencies in his stories, we figured it wasn’t that the wife didn’t want to take the kids, it’s just him not wanting the kids to go to the wife, despite the fact that his wife would be more capable to take care of the kids. Dr Ker asked if we could source out some help for him, and especially the kids. I told her we’d like to see and speak to the wife, but Zali always came up with all sorts of excuses not to let us speak to the wife. Just like the rest of us, Dr Ker’s main concern is the well-being of the children. In her own words, “He is going to be very sick soon. He is not compliant in his medication and given his situation, it is hard for me to start him on a new regime. It’s just a matter of time before he gets hospitalised. Who is going to take care of the children?”

Good question doc. But while we are thinking about the children’s well-being, Zali himself seemed to be rather selfish and thinking of his own needs more than that of his children’s. If he loves his children, then he’d better start thinking of their future.

After the short discussion (had to make it a short one as Dr Ker was busy with the patients), off I went. Walking at a fast pace (to get my car at the service center), before long somebody honked. I looked around and suddenly heard a familiar voice, “Amboi!! Lajunya jalan dah tak pandang kiri-kanan dah!” It was Kak Ana, about to drive off. In the car was Sharifah… and yes, my little Cek Mek!! Ooh, I love seeing them together. I always wonder when they are really getting back together. I mean for Sharifah to take the little darling into her full care instead of the current practice of visiting from time to time. Well, it was just a short meet, too short to get updates, but ample time for me to cubit-cubit the little girl’s cheeks. (nasiblah siapa jadi cucu angkat I...)

So yeah, it was a good day. It wasn’t so tiring after all having to walk the few extra hundred meters. The only downside was the few extra hundred ringgits for the replacements of some parts to my car… (will be driving down to Seremban next Saturday anyway, so better make sure the car is in good condition, right?)

Monday, 19 April 2010

What lah!

When I went to visit Ijam at the hospital last week, the nurses seemed to be treating both Ijam and Fuzi well. When one of Fuzi’s neighbors came to visit a nephew at the same ward and bumped into Fuzi, Fuzi slowly whispered to the nurse begging her not to tell the neighbor of Ijam’s HIV. Fuzi no longer cares that the whole neighborhood knows of her HIV, but she couldn’t bear the thought of Ijam’s HIV status being known to all and sundry. The nurse assured her that they would never give such info to others. So the neighbor was only told that Ijam was warded because of dengue.

However, when Ijam was transfered to the end room, a single room, I did suspect that they used the room as an isolation room due to Ijam’s HIV. Oh well, in a way it was a blessing… I had more privacy to chat with Fuzi when I visited.

Ijam was discharged on Sunday, and so I went to fetch them at the hospital to send them home. It was then that I learnt from Fuzi that other than the isolation room, Ijam was indeed treated differently than the other kids at the pediatric ward.

A few things mentioned by Fuzi caught my attention.

1. While the other kids were served their food in trays, Ijam on the other hand was given “nasi bungkus”. In other words, no need to wash the trays he would have been using if his food was served just like the rest.

2. When changing the bed sheets of the pediatric patients in the ward, bare hands were used EXCEPT for Ijam’s bed. Before coming in to Ijam’s room, they made sure they put on gloves just to change the bed sheet.

3. The nurses advised Fuzi that all the utensils used by Ijam at home be separated from the ones used by his siblings!

Fuzi ended up more confused than ever before! When she and Ijam were initially diagnosed HIV+, the doctors told her not to worry about sharing utensils at home. Now, after she had been mixing all the utensils at home for more than 4 years after diagnosed, they tell her a different story?

“Macam mana ni kak? Betul ke saya kena asingkan pinggan, cawan, semua? Selama ni saya tak pernah asingkan pun! Cakap siapa saya nak ikut ni?!”

“Ikut je cakap doktor!”

Thank goodness the doctors had explained to her earlier about the do’s and don’ts. Otherwise, Fuzi would probably panic and send all her children for testing again in case they got infected due to sharing of household utensils! Imagine how Ijam would feel if everything his has to be kept separately, when all his siblings share things at home.

If something is medical-related, people would generally believe the nurses more than they would believe someone like me! Imagine the wrong perceptions they are giving to the public!

And I have been giving talks to the public when the hospital staff themselves need to be given more awareness on HIV!

Sigh…

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A bleak future?

I had promised Sofie I’d be visiting her on Friday to fetch her; and thereafter she’d show me the way to Fiza’s house. I needed to get more info on Fiza so I could pass the info to members of an alumni who had approached me to give them some leads as to where they could extend their charity funds.

Since Fiza is not one of our HIV clients (I just so happened to meet her when she was at Sofie’s house. Sofie’s her SIL), and I already have too many HIV cases to handle, I thought it would be best if another organization or individual took over her case. So when members of the particular alumni approached me, I thought it would be best if I recommended Fiza to them.

Anyway, when I got to Sofie’s house, another of Sofie’s sister (not the mulut becok one staying in the same housing area) was also there. I have met this sister a few times before. Although she stays in another state up north, she makes it a point to visit Sofie and her children whenever she could. Unlike the other sister staying nearby, this sister is very concerned about Sofie’s health and well-being.

Sofie herself wasn’t feeling too well. For the past 2 or 3 days, she had been going to a nearby town on her motorbike (she calls the bike “motosikal raja” – no road tax/insurance) looking for a house to rent so the family could move to a new place as soon as possible. So by the time I went to see her on Friday, she could hardly walk without being aided. It wasn’t advisable for me to bring Sofie with me to go to Fiza’s house.

But Sofie’s sister agreed to show me the way, and so along with Azman, Sofie’s son who was back from his school hostel, off we went to Fiza’s house. Good thing I didn’t attempt to look for the house by myself. You see, although the address shows the name of the main road, her house is actually somewhere at the back. We needed to go in through a narrow space between 2 houses to get to her house. Shouldn’t be a problem if you’re driving a Kancil or Viva, and although I think my Kenari would be able to go through too (albeit ngam-ngam), I decided to just park my car in front of the 2 houses. There weren’t any occupants in those houses anyway, in fact one of the houses were obviously not fit for anyone to live in.

Good thing Azman came along. He helped to carry the groceries which I had brought along with me.

Fiza was actually waiting for me. Sofie had earlier informed her that I would be coming on Friday. In fact on Friday morning, Fiza called Sofie to confirm if indeed I would be coming. She had seen the kind of help Sofie had been getting, and so she was hoping she could get some help for her family as well.

Only Fiza and her 15 year old daughter was home. The 2 younger children were at school.  I asked Fiza for her MyKad and her children’s birth certs so I could write down the details in my log book. It was then that I realised her eldest daughter doesn’t share the same father with the 2 younger children. Then I remembered Sofie mentioning to me that Fiza had married twice, both times the husband died.

After taking down their details, I noticed that Fiza is only 31 years old. Which means she gave birth to her eldest daughter when she was only 16, the second child at 18 and the third at 20. I looked further and noticed the eldest daughter’s name came with “binti Abdullah”. My mind began to wonder, but since only her MyKad was shown to me, there were no details on the girl’s father. I didn’t want to ask further. It didn’t matter who the girl’s father was, the family still needed help.

Fiza’s second child, at 13, still doesn’t have a MyKad. I told Fiza not to wait too long as there may be complications later on, but Fiza was concerned that there may be a penalty which she may not be able to afford.

Those who had been following my blog, may remember my posting here about Fiza’s 15 year old girl who was expelled from school last year due to her absence from school without notifying the school. Fiza had to appeal to the Education Department to get her daughter back in school. Well, the letter came, her appeal was approved and the girl allowed to continue schooling at the same school. She’s supposed to sit for her PMR this year. Fiza showed me the letter on Friday. It was dated January, not long after the last time I met them at Sofie’s house.

Good news? Well, not so. Despite getting the letter, the girl simply refused to go to school. Her excuse was that her mother was unwell; but frankly, after meeting her, I think she simply doesn’t want to study any more.  And so she had been staying home, helping her mother out as a rubber tapper. When Fiza’s unwell (she has heart problems) and doesn’t go out to work, the girl wouldn’t go either. It would be dangerous for the girl to go there early in the morning to such a lonely and secluded place – it’s not a proper rubber estate, just a piece of land with some rubber trees belonging to an individual, and whatever rubber Fiza sells, the proceeds would be shared 50-50 with the owner. And unlike some time ago when the price of rubber shot up, now the price is quite low.

I asked the girl what her interest was. I suggested to her that even if she doesn’t want to go to school, she could maybe consider going for a short kursus kemahiran or something so she’d at least have some skills she could use to generate income. I told her she’d need to think of her future.

But the girl didn’t say a word. She just looked down and kept quiet. I don’t really know what she wants in her life. Right now her future looks rather bleak. For all we know she’d also end up like her mother – get married at such an early age. She is after all, almost the same age as when her mother gave birth to her.

Well, I’ve already given the family’s info to members of the said alumni. Hopefully they can do something to help so that the 2 younger children will not end up like their eldest sister.

As for the house Sofie was looking for, she did find one near Fiza’s place, but the rental of RM200 per month was a bit to high for Sofie. So we’re still looking around. Sofie is now even willing to move all the way to the outskirts of Ipoh if we could find a house with a rental of below RM200. At least if she stays near Ipoh, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem going to the hospital for Saiful’s and her own appointments.

So yep, we’re still looking around for a suitable house.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Blame the victim? What about the perpetrator?

While we were chatting after a meeting yesterday, a doctor active in fighting for women’s causes, told me about a girl who got pregnant and gave birth thrice by the time she was 14.

The first time was when she was 12. She was brought to the hospital and didn’t speak a word as everybody including the nurses handling her case had already passed judgment on her, saying all sorts of unpleasant things about her…

“Kecik-kecik lagi dah gatal! Orang pergi sekolah belajar, dia buat kerja lain.”

“Hah, padan muka, menggatal lagi!”

And when she shouted in pain during delivery…

“Ha, ni lah akibatnya. Nak seronok berapa minit punya pasal, tanggung aje lah sakitnya. Kenapa sekarang nak menjerit pulak?”

She then gave birth, the baby given up for adoption and she went back to stay with her parents.

About a year later, she was sent to the hospital again… and again she was pregnant. She had to go through the same thing all over again. She just kept quiet, didn’t say a thing. I wonder why nobody took the effort to really investigate what happened. Everybody took for granted she was the one who willingly got into the whole mess.

At 14, again she became pregnant. And again she was sent to the hospital, only this time, the doctor who met her was the doctor I mentioned above. After looking through the file and her history, the doctor decided to investigate further. She saw the need to “jaga tepi kain orang” in this case. So in a motherly way, she asked the girl who the perpetrator was. The girl’s eyes lit up. For the first time, somebody bothered to ask instead of just putting the blame on her!

And yes, the doctor did get the answer. For all 3 pregnancies, the perpetrator was the same person…

HER OWN FATHER!

Needless to say, the doctor proceeded with making all the police reports and all those stuff. Apparently, the mother knew her own husband was the culprit, but to save the family from shame, she just kept quiet. Oh bummer, she let her own daughter take the blame for being “gatal” because she didn’t want the whole world to know that her own husband was the “haruan makan anak”! And being someone who’s not financially independent, she was also worried that if any action is taken against her husband, who would then feed the family?

I have nothing further to say.

Sendiri fikir lah…

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Sudah jatuh ditimpa tangga

Just last week I went to visit Fuzi. The very next day she called to tell me that somebody got into her house when she was at the hospital for her appointment. When she got home, the doors and windows were shut and locked, but when she got in, the house was in a mess and a few things were stolen. By the looks of it, I think probably someone has a set of her house keys! I told her to either change her house keys or install additional locks.

Then as I was relaxing at home yesterday afternoon, Fuzi called me again from a public phone to tell me that Ijam, her 8 year old HIV+ son had to be warded at Ipoh GH for dengue. Poor thing! They were at the emergency unit then, waiting to be warded.

Ijam was already having fever over the weekend but Fuzi thought it was just the normal fever, and so she just gave him the usual ubat demam. But seeing that the fever had not subsided, she decided to bring Ijam to the Klinik Kesihatan near her place – totally unprepared for the possibility that the boy may need to be hospitalised. After all, she didn’t bring him to a hospital, but to a small Klinik Kesihatan. The people at the klinik kesihatan, upon confirming that the boy was down with dengue, brought them to Ipoh GH in an ambulance.

Since Fuzi went unprepared, she didn’t bring along any change of clothes, medication or enough money. She didn’t even bring along her ATM card to withdraw money. So she called me again once they got to the children’s ward.

“Kak, saya nak minta tolong boleh?”

Before I could say anything, the line was cut off. I tried to call back the same number but couldn’t get through. So I had no choice but to wait.

Fuzi only called back an hour later. And being typical of Fuzi to speak quickly in her Indonesian accent, I couldn’t really understand what she was trying to say. She kept asking me if I could “tolong hantar kain baju dan obat jam 8 nanti”. I was wondering why it had to be at 8 pm… I don’t usually go out at night except for my NGO meetings.

Me: “Kenapa mesti pukul 8?”

Fuzi: “Saya kena makan obat jam 8!”

Me: “Kalau saya pergi sekarang tak boleh ke?”

Fuzi: “Oh, sekarang lagi bagus kak!”

DUH!!

Fuzi had already passed a message to her eldest daughter to tell her to pack whatever necessary in a bag. Since they didn’t have any phone at home, Fuzi had no choice but to call her brother-in-law (her late husband’s brother) staying nearby to seek his help to pass the message to Wina, Fuzi’s daughter. Under normal circumstances, you’d think Fuzi could depend on this BIL and his wife to look after Fuzi’s children while she’s at the hospital looking after Ijam. But in reality, her BIL & wife would usually want payment for any services rendered! Remember Fuzi had that problem of getting her children’s MyKad done? Well, it could be done if their uncle, a Malaysian citizen, accompanied the girls to JPN as their guardian. Well, he did accompany them to get their MyKad done, but in addition to the transportation costs already covered by Fuzi, she also had to pay him an additional RM200 just to sign the application forms as their guardian. And they are his own nieces!! Apa punya pak sedara la!!

So asking their favor to look after the kids could be really costly!

That aside, off I went to Fuzi’s house yesterday after my asar prayer – usually it would take about 20 minutes from my house to hers, but it being just after office hours, the traffic was a bit heavy (although it was nothing compared to KL traffic lah!).

I honked when I got to their house, it took some time before Nita, Fuzi’s second daughter opened the door. The children don’t usually open the door when their mother’s not around, but upon seeing my car, they didn’t have second thoughts about opening the door. Wina, the eldest, was still packing some clothes into a bag. I told her to make sure that her mother’s and brother’s ARV medication were already in the bag. After getting Fuzi’s ATM card from them, off I went. I was in such a hurry I totally forgot to ask the girls if they had any money or food for the next few days.

It was only when I got to the hospital (just in time before visiting hours ended) that Fuzi mentioned to me she didn’t know if the children had anything to eat for the next few days. She had not left them any money as she had expected to go home before the end of the day. I promised Fuzi I’d check on the children the next day (today).

Early this morning, after my usual kampong exercise routine, I went into my room and saw the red light blinking on my hand phone. There was a missed call, and based on the number, I figured it was from one of the hospital’s public phones.

Later I tried to call Fuzi’s mobile number, but there was no answer. It was nearing 1 pm when Fuzi finally called back, again from a public phone. Her phone’s battery was almost dead and she had not brought along the charger. Anyway, Fuzi said that the doctor suspected Ijam may have some kidney problems as well. Aduiii… I do hope it’s nothing serious.

Fuzi then again mentioned how worried she was about her children at home. I told her I’d make it a point to visit them after 2 pm ie after my lunch and zohor prayer.

So yep, after my zohor prayer off I went, first to the grocery shop to buy canned food (sardines, curry chicken, sambal ikan bilis), bread and eggs. Coincidentally, just last week when I went to visit them, I had already brought along some groceries for them. This time they’d probably need more instant or easy to cook food. Before making a move to their house, I also made it a point to buy nasi goreng for them. Nasi goreng had always been the children’s favorite – every time I bring them out and ask them to order anything to eat, they’d straight away say, “Nasi goreng!”

All 4 children were home when I got there. Nita, 13, and her 11 year old brother were already back from school, while Wina, in form 3 and will be sitting for her PMR this year, had to ponteng sekolah to take care of her youngest sibling, Iwan, 4. I had wanted to suggest that Wina and Nita take turns to skip school on alternate days, but somehow Nita is not too reliable when it comes to house work. Wina on the other hand, had been very reliable since she was still in primary school. Put her in charge and she’ll make sure her siblings will get something to eat, even if there’s nothing much at home.

Anyway, Wina passed me another bag of stuff her mother had requested, including her hand phone charger. Wina asked when Ijam is expected to be discharged – a question I couldn’t possibly answer and I myself weren’t too sure of Ijam’s condition. Before I left, I also left some cash with Wina in case she needed to buy anything. At least for today she didn’t have to worry about having to cook or buy anything as I had already bought nasi goreng for them.

Today I went to visit Fuzi and Ijam quite early,at 5 pm. But when I got into the children’s ward and headed straight to the bed where I saw them yesterday, there was a toddler on the bed, not Ijam! I looked around but couldn’t find Fuzi or Ijam. Finally I decided to call Fuzi’s hand phone. It was cut off just after the first ring, but after that I heard Fuzi’s voice calling out my name. Ijam had been transferred to a small single room at the end of the ward.

The boy was still on drip. He looked so skinny, and I could clearly see an unhappy and pathetic looking face. With such looks, there was no way Fuzi would go home and leave him at the hospital even for just a little while.

I told Fuzi I’d be busy tomorrow (got to go to office in the morning and attend a meeting in the afternoon) and so if she needed another favor from me, she’d have to wait till Friday.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Getting help for the poor

A fellow volunteer assigned to be the buddy to Wan, an Orang Asli lady, called me recently asking if there’d be any sort of financial assistance to Wan. The volunteer had just met up with Wan and found that her condition was so bad, she was begging for help. Without a job, staying in a real ulu kampong not accessible by car, and a 10 year old son depending on her, Wan was quite desperate.

Her son is already covered by our CEF for his educational needs. But CEF is paid based on claims – not on monthly basis. For our Sponsorship programme (which also includes monthly pocket money), our procedure is that at least 2 other buddies must visit the PLHIVs at their homes to assess their situation.

But if we follow that procedure strictly, I can’t be too sure when Wan’s son, Asri, can be considered for sponsorship. With a house in an ulu Orang Asli kampong that is not accessible by car, I figured in situations like these, “budibicara” needs to be used. After discussing the matter unofficially with my vice-chair, we decided to just proceed with the matter and rectify later at the next Board meeting.

So this time I used my FB account to highlight the matter and within a few days, I got a sponsor for Asri. Alhamdulillah.

Meanwhile, I got the volunteer to get all the necessary info on the boy. And today she called me up, not just with some info on the boy, but also with some good news. The good news is, Wan finally managed to get herself a job, at a kedai jahit, with a pay of RM16 a day. At least now she has some income to buy food for herself and her son. Only thing is, the shop where she works is in town. Although the kampong where she stays is in the same town, commuting from her ulu kampong to town is not easy unless she has a motorbike.

So Wan is renting a small house in town together with a few other Orang Asli ladies. Her son is left under the care of a relative and Wan would “balik kampong” during the weekends.

On another note, remember Fiza, Sofie’s sis-in-law who needed help? Since Fiza is not HIV infected/affected, I couldn’t apply any of the Buddies funds to help her out. Well, members of a certain alumni with their own charity fund had approached me recently to ask if I could give them some leads as to where they could expand their charity drive. I suggested Fiza’s family and they agreed. I have been asked to get more details on her. Only problem is, the last time I met Fiza, she couldn’t even tell me the exact address of her rented house (she couldn’t even remember her own MyKad number!). She did give me a phone number, but the last I heard, she was desperate for money, she sold her phone for RM20. So I couldn’t call her.

Coincidentally today Sofie called me up. She’s thinking of moving house earlier than she had initially planned. Her new neighbor (who’s also her landlord’s younger brother) has been making Sofie’s family feeling somewhat unwanted. He has been building all sorts of barriers between his house and the house Sofie is staying in. Maybe he heard about her HIV and so those barriers are to avoid the virus from spreading to his house???!!

Anyway, Sofie plans to move to the same town as Fiza. She wants to start her small business of selling kuih as soon as possible and she wants to start afresh at a new town. The town where Fiza is staying is perfect as it is not too far from the town where she is currently staying. In the event that she is not able to arrange for the transfer of her children’s schools that soon, they can at least still commute to their present school by bus.

When Sofie said she wants to look around for a house at that town within these next few days, I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit Fiza’s family. So I volunteered to fetch Sofie at her house and bring her around to find a suitable house, but after that Sofie will have to show me the way to Fiza’s house. Sofie agreed.

The earlier I can get details to be passed to the alumni wanting to help to Fiza’s family, the better. InsyaAllah we (Sofie & myself) will be visiting them this Friday afternoon. And I can bet Sofie’s children, Saiful and Ika will be tagging along as well…

Friday, 9 April 2010

I am thankful!

I just realised I’ve been a volunteer with Buddies of Ipoh for 6 years now. How time flies…

Some people are still asking me how I got about to joining Buddies (not Buddhist, not Baddies, okay?).

Actually it all started by sheer coincidence. One of the Buddies then (this was in 2004) approached a friend of mine, trying to get her to join Buddies as a volunteer. They didn’t have a single female Malay volunteer then and were desperately looking for one in view of the additional number of  female Malay PLHIV clients. Well no, basically there wouldn’t be any problems assigning non-Malays to the Malay clients, but when you get HIV+ ladies staying in Malay kampongs with somewhat kepochi neighbors, doing house visits could be a problem.

Anyway, my friend who was approached agreed to meet up with the Buddies chairperson then to be ‘interviewed’; and at the same time she asked if she could bring somebody else along. That somebody else was yours truly.

Coincidentally I was looking around for ways and means to somehow ‘contribute’ back to the society. I did join a few other activities and organisations, but somehow I felt as though I was contributing more to the society (as in persatuan) instead of society (as in masyarakat). So when my friend told me about Buddies and coaxed me to join her for the interview, I thought… why not.

And so we were both accepted as trainees. However my friend, who was already an active Rotarian, couldn’t find much time to spare for Buddies and so she finally opted out. She ended up only becoming the “middle person” to pull me into Buddies.

As for me, initially I didn’t really get enough exposure. As trainee, I wasn’t supposed to be meeting any of the clients by myself. A senior volunteer was assigned to be my supervisor (in Buddies term, we’d usually call the supervisor as the Mummy or Daddy to the trainee). I think throughout the whole year I only got to visit just one client twice. Either my “mummy” was busy to bring me to visit other clients, or I wasn’t free when she was.

Luckily for me, with my flexi working hours, I managed to join the HIV clinic team. At least I got to meet newly diagnosed HIV patients and I got to learn how to deal with them.

I finally got myself confirmed as a Buddy in 2005 (actually I think the exposure I got wasn’t really enough, but they were desperately short of volunteers especially with more and more HIV+ Malay ladies referred to us). It wasn’t long before I began getting all the problematic cases such as Ifa, Maria, Zana, Rose… and the list continues.

By 2006 I was pulled into the committee… 2007 treasurer… and by 2008 I got elected (on paksa-rela basis) as the chairperson, a post I’m still stuck with.

Alhamdulillah I finally got to do something that gives me satisfaction. Doing all the ground work and getting myself exposed to the trials and tribulations of the PLHIVs were indeed what I needed. Although dealing with all their problems can sometimes “make my blood go upstairs” ;), the exposure made me appreciate life more than I ever did before.

No, I don’t have regrets doing this. I am in fact THANKFUL. Thank you Allah for giving me this opportunity.

 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

More than 3 1/2 years later…

It has been quite a while since I last visited Fuzi’s family. If I recall correctly, my last visit to her house was some time in December last year. Even then, it wasn’t really a house visit - I went to fetch them at home and brought them shopping for the children’s schooling needs.

Fuzi’s case was first referred to me in August 2006. She had no source of income then, with 5 other mouths to feed including a 3 month old baby boy. The family depended on whatever a few neighbors and other good Samaritans gave them. Her whole neighborhood knew about her HIV due to a mulut murai nurse staying in the same kampong. In addition to that, her youngest child was conceived not with her late husband (who had died a few years earlier). Somebody broke into her house and raped her.

Finding out about her pregnancy after that was devastating enough. Finding out about her HIV infection was like the end of the world. With an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and HIV to add, the thought of the stigma and discrimination she was to face was a situation she never imagined.

Fuzi was confident that she got the HIV from the rape case. After giving birth to the youngest, Fuzi was concerned that her baby, Iwan, may be infected. She made sure she didn’t miss any appointments at the hospital although sometimes she only had enough to pay for her bus fares to Ipoh, but not to go back home.

After her case was referred to us Buddies, and to me personally as her buddy, we tried our best to help her out. In her case, moral and emotional support alone was not enough. She needed financial help as well. But other than our Children Education Fund (CEF) which is solely meant for children’s education, we didn’t have specific funds for their other needs. I got our Client Welfare Coordinator to help Fuzi apply for Welfare Aid, but that would usually take some time before approval. So what would Fuzi and her children eat meantime?

With a baby whom Fuzi couldn’t breastfeed because of her HIV, she’d need milk powder. And diapers too. Both these items aren’t cheap. Well yes, she could use cloth diapers, but there were times, especially during rainy seasons, when she’d run out of diapers.

I wrote about Fuzi’s financial woes here.

Fuzi’s problems didn’t end there. By the time her eldest daughter needed to get her MyKad done, Fuzi had other problems. You see, Fuzi, being Indonesian, married her late husband, a Malaysian, in Narathiwat. Trusting her husband fully that the marriage would be registered in Malaysia later, Fuzi wasn’t aware that her marriage had not been registered here. It wasn’t much of a problem when her husband was still alive. All her 4 children with her late husband had their birth certs done without any problems, indicating clearly that their father was a Malaysian citizen. But after her husband passed on, and Fuzi herself went to bring her daughter to apply for her MyKad, the citizenship problem began. She was told to get her marriage cert legalised before proceeding with her children’s citizenship confirmation. I wrote about this problem here, here and here.

While Fuzi was concerned that her youngest child would be infected, she did bring all her children for blood tests, just in case. While her first 3 children got the A-okay clearance from the doctor, Ijam was asked to come for a second test. But it wasn’t easy to bring Ijam for tests as he was afraid of needles. Every time he knew his mother planned to bring him to the hospital, he would run out of the house and hid somewhere until he knew it was too late to go to the hospital! Fuzi did finally coax (read: bribe) him to go by promising to buy him toys. And how heartbreaking it was to find out that Ijam was indeed confirmed HIV positive as well.

So Fuzi didn’t get HIV from the rape case after all. She must have got it from her late husband! You can read about this here.

The above problems were more than enough for Fuzi to handle. You think? Well, it didn’t help that her 3rd child was such a naughty boy. The boy, Faiz, was caught by his teacher in school for “menghisap” as told by Fuzi to me. I took for granted Fuzi meant “hisap rokok”. You can read about it here. Little did I know then that it was something worse than that. Not even drugs. What could it be then? Find out for yourself here. Just the thought of it gave me the creeps!

Well, financially we managed to help Fuzi out. Other than getting month financial aid from the Welfare Dept (of RM115 per month – to feed 5 children!), after I started my blog and posted her story, an anonymous blog reader agreed to remit a certain amount into Fuzi’s bank account every month. Her children’s schooling needs are covered either by our CEF or by our Sponsorship program.

As for legalising her marriage cert and confirming her children’s citizenship status, all I could do was to forward her to trusted sources to seek help from, ie those who wouldn’t take advantage of her.

There wasn’t much I could do about little Ijam’s HIV, except to give Fuzi some moral support, and to make sure the boy doesn’t miss his hospital appointments and medication.

I used to visit Fuzi’s family frequently on a monthly basis. After about 2 years and after I was confident that Fuzi would be able to stand on her own with the financial help she was already getting, I reduced the frequency of my visit. I didn’t want her to start depending too much on me and Buddies.

Well, today I decided to visit her. I did bring along some foodstuff with me plus a bagful of used baju kurung still in good condition, donated by someone who had cleaned up her wardrobe (to get new ones maybe?).

I didn’t even tell Fuzi I was coming. She seldom goes out except to the hospital. Only Fuzi, her eldest daughter Wina, and her youngest boy Iwan, were home. The rest were in school. Iwan will be 4 years old next month. How time flies!

I was pleased to note that this time around Fuzi didn’t have any new problems to tell me. In fact, her earlier problems seemed to be heading the right direction. Iwan has been confirmed to be spared from HIV. Fuzi has already got her marriage cert legalised. With that she managed to proceed with her daughters’ citizenship status, but procedures are procedures, it may take at least 6 months before the children can get their MyKad. But in their birth certs their citizenship had been verified and Wina’s teacher agreed to help out with Wina’s registration for PMR this year even without a MyKad. Of course, it did help that Wina is one of the brighter students and so the teacher went out of her way to help register the girl for her PMR.

As for the other children, they are doing okay in school. Not as good as Wina, but at least they look forward to school. And Faiz is no longer giving Fuzi the problems he used to give her. Fuzi resorted to “blackmailing” him – telling him that if she hears of any more troubles caused by him, “Nanti Mama minta tolong Makcik Afizah hantar kamu pergi rumah anak yatim!”

Hmmm… that wasn’t the first time my name was used for blackmailing purposes…

Monday, 5 April 2010

Our clinic duties…

During our AGM last week, we were informed by our HIV clinic coordinator about the request by SN, the staff nurse at the Ipoh HIV clinic asking us if possible to send in volunteers every Wednesdays instead of our current practice of every 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.

I understand that they probably need more help now that they have HIV clinic every Wednesdays and Thursdays, when previously the clinic is only on Wednesdays. If we can send our teams every Wednesday, then maybe SN can fix the appointments of new cases to be on Wednesdays so she can easily refer their cases to us. Otherwise, it can be quite difficult for her when there are new problematic cases to be referred on a clinic day when we don’t have any volunteers there.

On our part, for the moment we only have 7 people available for clinic duty ie those who are either no longer working, self employed or with flexi working hours like myself. It will be difficult for those working 9 – 5 to join us for clinic duty as they will need to take leave from work, which is unfair to them given that this is just our voluntary work. Previously we used to divide the teams into groups of three, but due to lack of manpower, we’re reduced the teams to groups of two with one team ie mine, having 3. And how come my team has 3 members instead of 2? That’s because the other 2 in my team are both trainees.

By sending in volunteers every alternate week, each volunteer involved will be on duty once every 1 1/2 months. My last duty was on the first Wednesday of March, so my next duty will be on the second Wednesday of April.

But if we are to fulfill SN’s request, we probably need to be on duty more often. Now, I am not sure if every volunteer in the HIV clinic team would be willing and able to go for clinic duty more frequently. Maybe what we can do is stick to the present duty roster, and for those who can do more, we may just slot in their names for the Wednesdays in between. Or maybe we revamp the teams. Besides, I feel that the 2 trainees in my team are ready to be confirmed and as such they should be able to be on clinic duty without me supervising.

We will have to discuss this further in our coming Board meeting end of this month.

In addition to more clinic duties, we were also informed that the Taiping HIV clinic also needs our services. Aiyo, how lah? We don’t even have enough to cover Ipoh HIV clinic! Again we will need to discuss this in the next Board meeting. Maybe we can consider sending volunteers once a month. If we do, then definitely we will have to pay for their mileage. In addition maybe we can get new volunteers staying in Taiping to join us. At least during the initial stages they can be trained by the senior volunteers on clinic duty at Taiping, then later on we can leave the Taiping HIV clinic to Taiping volunteers. That is, IF we can get volunteers from there who, again, are either self employed, have flexi working hours or are no longer working. Whatever it is, their “cari makan” jobs come first. We don’t want their jobs to be affected by their voluntary work.

So, anyone in Ipoh and/or Taiping wanna be a volunteer?

Friday, 2 April 2010

Where next?

2005 : Sg Klah Hotspring

sgklahPic from http://www.plantationresorts.com.my/HotSprings/

2006 : Teluk Batik Beach

telukbatik01 Pic from www.pulau-pangkor.com

2007 : Lost World of Tambun

lwot

2008 : Taiping Zoo

zoo taiping

2009 : National Stud Farm, Tg Rambutan

nsf

2010? We haven’t decided yet on this year’s Family Day venue. A totally new place… or a repeat of any of the above? The kids seem to especially remember the one at Lost World. Hmmm... Let me see through my special camera…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ooops, wrong setting I think. Saw this transformation instead…

1969 : Minah Rempit

pb

And 40 years later, the same little girl turned into…

2009 : Minah Koboi

nsf2

HEHEHE!!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Updates…

Halimah & her baby…

I called up Halimah last week to find out when next she’d be coming to Ipoh next for her hospital appointments. Since I got a box of baby’s stuff recently from a donor, I was thinking maybe I’d send her home together with the stuff. Her kampong is not listed in my GPS.

I was taken by surprise when she mentioned that while she went home about a week after delivery, her baby was still at the hospital since born (that was about 3 weeks ago).

Tak dok hospital tunggu anak ke?” I asked.

Saya dalam pantang kak.”

Laa… for the last 2 weeks she just let the nurses take care of her baby. She didn’t even visit.

Anyway, pantang or no pantang, she had to come for her appointment at Ipoh GH yesterday. I told her to call me when she’s in Ipoh.

So yes, yesterday afternoon she called me from the hospital, at the baby’s ward. This time she’d be staying at the hospital with the baby. Finally! Only parents are allowed in, so no point visiting. I told her to inform me when she’s going home so I can send her the box of baby’s stuff that I have. I didn’t offer to send her home though… in case I’m not free then. But I do hope I will be able to send the box of baby’s stuff to her soon, I need more space in my room (to dump other stuff??)…

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Lin and her surgery

Remember I mentioned about Lin having to undergo a surgery to remove her fibroid? Well, she’s supposed to be hospitalised today and the surgery is supposed to be tomorrow. But when I went to visit her last week, she told me she was scared and was thinking of postponing the surgery. She said she wanted to try other methods first (not bomoh I hope!) to reduce the size of the thing. If that doesn’t work, THEN she’d go for the surgery. I told her that if indeed she decided to postpone the surgery, she’d better inform the doctors ASAP.

I called her yesterday to find out her decision and whaddaya know… she did postpone/cancel it. I bet she must have slept better last night! Her next appointment will be in June though… so let’s see if her “other method” works before the next appointment!

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Mrs K and her children’s bus fares

Mrs K’s 2 schooling children’s bus fares are covered by our Children Education Fund. Since I don’t trust them with cash (based on past expreriences with the family), instead of banking in the money into Mrs K’s bank account, I told her to get me the bank account of the bus driver, and yeah, I got the account details. And since I don’t want to go through the trouble of having to go to the bank every month to bank in the money, or to transfer the amount online every month (I may forget), I decided to do so via standing instructions to the bank. Every 1st of the month, the needed amount will be automatically transferred to the bus driver’s account. Which means there is no bank-in slip for Mrs K to show to the bus driver as proof that the amount has been paid.

Well, 2 days ago, I got a text message from Mrs K, saying the bus driver insisted that she show him the bank in slip as proof that the bus fares had indeed been banked in. He doesn’t have time to go check at the bank. I don’t know what Mrs K told him, but it seems the bus driver didn’t believe her. I told Mrs K to get him to call me direct.

The bus driver called me during my asar prayer… and so I didn’t answer the call. So he immediately called Mrs K and scolded her for lying to him. Well, after my prayer, I saw there were 2 missed calls from the same number. Although I don’t usually return calls to unfamiliar numbers, I figured it could be the bus driver. So I called back, and yes, it was him indeed. I explained to him the whole thing, about the children’s bus fares being covered by my NGO, how and when the money is transferred to his bank account etc. I told him that I didn’t want to give cash to Mrs K as I wanted to be sure the money is indeed used to pay the bus fares.

The bus driver didn’t sound as rude as Mrs K had described him to be. Probably like me, he too didn’t trust Mrs K and only believed the story after talking to me.

Looks like I’m not the only one who doesn’t trust her.