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)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

This and that…


Hmmm… what’s the buku 555 (pronounced buku tiga lima) doing up there? This book used to be famous as a buku hutang for those eating at warungs or buying stuff from grocery stores and paying at the end of the month. In my case, I used to have this book way back in school where, as a prefect, I used this book to write down the names of students who broke the rules. Ala-ala buku saman gitu… :)

But this posting has nothing to do with any hutang or saman. It just so happens that this particular posting is my 555th posting in this blog of mine ever since I started blogging in March 2007. So somehow I got reminded of this book which I used to carry in the pocket of my prefect’s skirt.

Anyway, it has been a pretty hectic week for me, and the situation will probably continue for the next few days as well.

On Sunday, after coming back from KL, I attended a meeting of the “Men Against Violence” campaign committee. We met, first at Padang Sultan Abdul Aziz, or over here is more popularly known as Polo Ground, and then moved on to the Kelab Pesara’s building across the road. The meeting was to finalise matters for the coming campaign launch this coming Sunday.

OnTuesday, I went for my clinic duty in Taiping (as mentioned in my previous posting).

On Wednesday, I was on clinic duty again, this time in Ipoh GH. Under normal circumstances, it would be very difficult getting a parking space at or near the hospital. This time it was even worse since it was raining. There was even traffic jam within the hospital compound. Even my usual parking area which is quite a walking distant from the main hospital building was full. After a few times going around, praying for a parking space, I finally saw a car coming out, and gleefully went to park there. It was by the roadside, where everybody else seem to park their cars, so whaaddaheck!!

There were supposed to be 3 new cases yesterday, but none of them turned up. I didn’t go for nothing though. I had promised Liza I’d meet up with her at the hospital, and so I did. She is due to deliver her baby in 2 weeks time, so yeah, another cucu coming soon! (Yep, Liza, 20, is also young enough to be my daughter!)

Later in the afternoon, off I went to Polo Grounds. One of the suppliers of the tents to be used this coming Sunday wanted to have a look at the layout. Then I had to go to Buddies Center to settle some things and to ensure that all the things needed for the coming exhibition (Buddies will participate in Sunday’s campaign by setting up an exhibition booth). Other than the usual posters etc, this time we also intend to show some videos related to HIV, so we’d need to bring along our projector and whatever else needed. Only problem is, most of the other volunteers are not so techno savvy, so their madam chair has to be the jack-of-all-trades (not jack-ass ok?) preparing and testing whatever necessary.

This morning before going out, I made sure I watched RTM’s Selamat Pagi Malaysia. I was told yesterday that the Chairperson of Sekretariat Pembangunan Wanita and the Chairperson of this Sunday’s programme would be on air to talk about the campaign launch this Sunday.

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It was almost 9 am by the time their session ended, and immediately after that I went over to the campaign secretariat to get a copy of the new layout for the venue (a few additional tents here and there). I also took the opportunity to copy the theme song of the campaign into my external hard drive so that at least by Sunday I’d be a bit more familiar with the tune. Oh, you don’t have to worry about me menyumbangkan suara… my suara is already sumbang… ;-)

I left the secretariat at about 10 am, and headed straight to the hospital. No, I wasn’t on duty again. Ina, The pregnant Orang Asli lady was supposed to go for her appointment this morning, and I needed to get a copy of her bank details to be submitted with the form to apply for financial assistance. But when I got there, I went straight to the doctor’s room to check, but was told by the nurse that Ina had not arrived yet, although usually she’d be there by 10 am. I couldn’t wait, so I sought the nurse’s help to get the details from Ina when she comes.

Next destination, the Polo Ground. This time one of the suppliers of the tents were supposed to put up their tents and so I needed to go and check on them. You see, I volunteered myself to be in charge of the exhibition booths (to me it would be easier as I know the NGOs better), but ended up being given the task to manage the venue preparations as well!

Tomorrow morning I will need to go to Polo Ground yet again. Another supplier of the tents will be putting up their tents. And on Saturday morning, I’d probably have to spend the whole day there to oversee the preparations. I believe by afternoon all the committee will need to be there as well for some sort of a rehearsal since the Menteri Besar is coming to launch the campaign.

So hey, those of you in or around Ipoh, do come over and support this campaign ya? And don’t forget to come visit the Buddies’ booth as well!

invitationaturcara

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Clinic duty in Taiping

Tuesday, 26th October 2010 -

It’s the 4th Tuesday of the month. Which means it’s time for the Taiping Hospital HIV clinic. Last month I wasn’t able to make it for the Taiping clinic, so I asked 2 other volunteers to go. This time, despite my rather busy schedule for the week (in view of this coming Sunday’s Men Against Violence campaign launch by the Perak Menteri Besar), I made it a point to go. Initially I was supposed to go with another volunteer, but only yesterday he told me wasn’t able to make it as he was attending a course (and he knew since last week he was attending a course this week but never bothered to tell me earlier he wouldn’t be joining the HIV clinic… sigh!)

Anyway, this time I didn’t even bother looking for a parking space within the hospital compounds. Just one look from outside I knew chances were I would be wasting my time. So I just looked for one of the metered parking lots right outside the hospital. I had, after all, come prepared with enough coins to feed the meters!

The regular nurse at the Taiping HIV clinic was on maternity leave and so another nurse had to take over her place temporarily. Before going over to the makeshift counseling room (there were no other rooms available, so we had to make use of the surau), I went over to the doctor’s room first, to ask the nurse if there were any new cases, and to send over whichever cases they wanted to refer to us without having to wait for them to see the doctor first. You see, we’re still quite new at Taiping Hospital, and so the nurse wasn’t quite sure of how best to go about, unlike in Ipoh GH where we had been working together with the HIV clinic staff for many years already.

Well, the nurse said there were no new cases, but they’d refer to me any follow-up cases which may need help. So I just went to the surau, brought out my netbook from my “mobile office” bag, and did some work while waiting for cases to be referred.

Finally somebody knocked on the door – a lady who was holding a Buddies brochure asked if she could come in to find out more about what we Buddies could offer. The doctor had given the brochure to her and told her to see me and discuss if I could help her out.

Jay, a lady in her early 40’s, is a working single mother. With a take-home pay of roughly RM1.5K, it had always been difficult for her to apply for financial aid. There are so many others out there who are worse off than her, but Jay actually needs help with her children’s educational needs. She has to pay for her house, she has to pay for her car. You see, with her 3 schooling kids, she used to send them all to school on her motorbike. Imagine all 4 of them on the motorbike at the same time. So she figured, having a small car would be better to send all 3 children together. The car and house takes up more than half her basic pay.

So she doesn’t qualify for hard-core poor to get financial help from whatever agencies, although she finds it difficult to cope with her monthly needs. Well, I told her we can consider covering her children’s uniforms, shoes etc using our CEF; since the children from poorer families are covered under our sponsorship programme.

Jay'’s case was the only case referred to me. Since there weren’t any more cases, by 12.30pm I made a move. First for lunch, then it was back to the highway for me.

While I was driving at the highway, a call came in. It was from Razif. Razif had called me a few weeks back to seek advise about his wife’s pregnancy. You see, the couple (both positive) got worried when after doing a home pregnancy test, they found out that the wife was pregnant. They are amongst the many people who think that an HIV positive mother is sure to give birth to an HIV positive child. I did tell them about the many cases of babies born to HIV+ mothers who have been confirmed negative.

But the last I checked with Razif to ask if he had arranged for an earlier appointment for his wife at the HIV clinic, he said they had both agreed to go for abortion.

So I was quite surprised when this time he called to say that they went for proper check-up and found out that the wife was already 3 months pregnant. Apparently they did try abortion, but it didn’t seem to work (am not sure what abortion method they used). I told Razif that it’s probably God’s way of telling them to keep the baby. I again explained to him that if necessary precautions are taken, the baby can be spared from the virus. Probably the first time I explained to him he wasn’t really listening as his mind was set on thinking that the baby is sure to be infected.

It was then that I found out there was something else they were worried about. Razif asked me if the doctors/nurses at the maternity ward would know about his wife’s HIV status. I told him of course they have to know. Then Razif told me that his sister works there as a nurse; and so far nobody in his or his wife’s family know about their HIV status. As such, if the wife gives birth, Razif’s sister will eventually find out about their HIV and maybe, after that the rest of the family will find out as well.

Well, there’s nothing much I can do on that issue. Razif will have to sort that out himself. Maybe he’d need to talk with his sister and seek her cooperation not to break the news to anybody else in the family.

Today, Wednesday, I’m on clinic duty again. This time at Ipoh GH. Hmmm… I wonder if there’d be many cases referred today…

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Positive HIV vs. Positive Thinking

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!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Get On Board!

get on board
A first by UNICEF in the region, the Get on Board Campaign aims to unite 100,000 supporters to raise their hand in support of children. Please help promote this Campaign in your own unique way to ensure a safe and protected childhood for every child.

7 children on average were reported to be abused every day in 2008. Child abuse is our problem. Let's unite to end it. Learn more at: www.uniteagainstabuse.my

I’ve hopped on to the bus. What are you waiting for? GET ON BOARD NOW!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The exhibition in TLDM



Saturday, 16th October 2010 – As early as 6.30 am, I was already out of my house. I had earlier told 3 other volunteers who was supposed to come along, that we’d be making a move from the center by 6.45 am and I also reminded them to be punctual. By the time I got to the center (which is just about 5 minutes drive from my house), 2 of them were already there. We only had to wait for one more, and she too arrived on time.

We made it to TLDM at 8.15 am and managed to set up our booth before 8.30am when the exhibition was supposed to officially start. Since the event was co-organised by TLDM, JAKIM and Malaysian Aids Council (MAC), and MAC themselves set up their own booth, I didn’t bother to bring along any posters related to basic info on HIV/AIDS . Besides, many of the posters we have, we got from MAC. So why display the same thing, huh?

I decided to just display our buntings, brochures, bookmarks and 2 posters which I got done just this week… one on what may go through the minds of HIV+ people… “From negative to positive – Breaking down barriers in the mind”; and the other poster describes the kind of activities/services that we do.

tldm7

There were quite a number of exhibitors – other than Buddies and MAC, there were booths representing Jabatan Kesihatan, Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, Majlis Agama Islam, Pertubuhan Komuniti Intan (PKI), PDRM and of course, the navy themselves.

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And oh, not forgetting, Agensi Anti Dadah Kebangsaan (AADK) who came in their bus…

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The exhibitors were also offered for a tour of one of their surveillance vessels, the KD Perantau. They organised 2 trips, so the exhibitors could take turns to man the booths.

tldm8

tldm15

tldm17

Anyway, usually during exhibitions, we would have extra brochures to bring back. This time we finished ours before the exhibition ended at 4 pm! And the navy personnel who came to visit did seem a lot more interested in what we do.

I also found it very heartening that 2 JAKIM ladies showed interest in what we do. They have it seems, visited PLHIVs at shelter homes, and they found it interesting that we Buddies visit the families at the PLHIV’s own homes.

Unlike the usual exhibitions where we’d get the volunteers to work in shifts to man the exhibition booths, it wasn’t an option for this exhibition as it took almost 1 1/2 hours to get from Ipoh to TLDM. We came in just one car… just the 4 of us, so the same 4 had to be on duty the whole day.

It was rather tiring, but based on the responses we got, it was worth the trip. By 4 pm sharp, we packed up and made a move. For the next 1 1/2 hours, the 3 volunteers could just sit back and relax (and sleep in the car)… while I… still had to concentrate on the road!! Sigh.. the “perks” of being the chairperson…

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Oh what a day…

I had promised a representative of a private hospital I’d bring her to visit the homes of 3 of our needy Indian clients today. The visit was for the hospital’s CSR for the coming Deepavali and they had approached me to recommend a few names. We don’t usually allow outsiders to visit our clients at their homes, but to fair to them, they too needed to assess the needs of these families, so after getting the permission of the families involved, I also told the hospital rep that they shouldn’t send any more than 2 reps for the visit. We wouldn’t want to attract neighbors’ attention by visiting in a big group.

Apparently, they too were busy with so many programmes coming up, so only one lady joined us. There were only 3 of us during the visit – me, my colleague and the hospital rep.

First house was Kamala’s house. Kamala had earlier on stayed at the outskirts of Ipoh, with her daughter Kavita schooling in a nearby town. Due to the distance, Kamala finally decided to move to the other town. They cut down on bus fares but the rental is higher now, from RM80 for the earlier house, now it’s RM200 for the 2 room terrace house. But the house is bare…

homevisit1

Oh, I also met Letchumi at Kamala’s house. Letchumi? Yep, meet Letchumi, Kavita’s buah hati

letchumi (Ahem Brad, interested in this minachi?)

Next stop was to Pushpa’s place. Pushpa, 14, orphaned since baby, stays with her grandma in an estate in another town. My colleague was supposed to know where the house is (he had been there before), but when we got to the estate, alamak, which road to take? So quiet, nobody around to ask… until we finally saw a small signboard which says “perumahan estet”. Somehow the place got me thinking of Ladang Gadong (eeks!!) though I have never been to ladang Gadong either. We finally found the house, went in, and I had just sat down for a while when a call came in from a blog reader who wanted to talk to me about a HIV+ friend of hers. I went out so I could have some privacy to talk to the caller. It was quite a lengthy conversation, I wasn’t even finished with the caller yet when the hospital rep and my colleague were done with Pushpa’s family. I was still talking on the phone when the 2 of them got out.

The 3rd family stays at one of the low-cost flats in Ipoh. This time we had to climb up to the 3rd floor. My colleague, a handicap, stayed in the car. There are no lifts at this flat. I had visited this house once before, for the sponsorship assessment visit. Back then the house was bare. A colleague who’s the family’s assigned buddy, asked around for donations in kinds, and managed to get some used furniture. So when I visited today, the house looked much better furnished…

homevisit3

It was almost 12.30 pm by the time we left. I sent my colleague and the hospital rep back to our center, rushed back home for lunch and zohor prayer, then immediately out again to attend the meeting on the “Men Against Violence” campaign. It was one of the last meetings before the campaign launch, and a press conference was also called for today…

PC

The campaign, organised by the Sekretariat Pembangunan Masyarakat dan Sosial Wanita Umno Negeri Perak, together with BN component parties and NGOs in Peraks, will be held as follows:

Day/date: Sunday, 31st October 2010

Venue: Polo Ground, Ipoh

Time: 8 am – 1 pm.

Guest of honour: MB of Perak

All are invited to attend! I’ll be the makcik in charge of the exhibition booths.

 

After the meeting, I rushed to my center, to get a box of used clothes (which I had received earlier from friends to be distributed to the poor – I have already distributed a bulk of them but still had some extras, the sizes were not suitable for my clients), then rushed back home, solat asar, then rushed out again to a friend’s house for her majlis yaasin/doa selamat before she leaves for Haj end of this month. I had also promised to meet another friend there, to pass the used clothes to.

I finally got home at 7.15 pm, very much needing a bath!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Shelter home

When a JKM officer called me up last Friday regarding arranging for a home for Amy’s father, Ramli, I told the officer about the existence of a non-religious based shelter home up north. I told her I’d have to check with the home and then discuss the matter further with Amy.

Since it was already a Friday, I figured I’d make the necessary calls on Monday.

Came Sunday evening, a text message came in from Amy, saying that the JKM officer told her that I had managed to find a home for her father. Wah, kita belum apa lagi the officer already told her dah dapat tempat??? Was she trying to lepas tangan or what?

I told Amy I’d be calling her on Monday after I call up the shelter home. Even though chances were that there should be no problem for them to accept Ramli at the home, I’d still have to check first… who knows, they may be fully occupied, or they may have changed policies on accepting people to the home.

On Monday morning, before I could call up the home, I received another call, this time from a district hospital. A doctor sought my help to find a place to stay for a male patient, Chong, who had been hospitalised for a few months already. Chong could have been discharged earlier, but because he didn’t have a place to stay, he was transferred from Ipoh GH to the district hospital. Now even the doctors at the district hospital felt that despite his HIV, Chong is already healthy enough to work. Only problem is, before he can start finding a job, he’d need a place to stay.

Again, I told the doctor about the existence of the shelter home up north. The doctor then passed the call to Chong so I could speak to him personally. After confirming that Chong was indeed agreeable to move up north, I jotted down his contact number and told him I’d call him back once I could confirm the home would accept him. Chong then asked if I could get a Chinese-speaking volunteer to call him. I agreed, to reduce the possibility of miscommunication.

Good thing that call came in before I called the person in charge at the shelter home. Otherwise I would have had to call the home twice.

Anyway, by now the lady at the home had already stored my number in her handphone, so there was no longer a need for introduction when I called. There was no problem whatsoever for the home to accept the 2 cases. They are even willing to help out Chong to look for a suitable job. Only thing was that the lady reminded me to remind Ramli’s family to come and visit from time to time and not just dump him there and goodbye forever! Well yes, that was what I had in mind too – to advise Amy to visit the father whenever possible.

Immediately after the call to the shelter home, I called a Chinese colleague of mine, to inform him of Chong’s situation. I told him I’d be giving him all the necessary details, after which he’d need to call and talk to Chong, and tell him what to do. Chong’s problem, settled.

Next person to call was Amy. I told her about the home, and, not wanting her to be too dependent on others, told her to make the necessary arrangements to transfer her father’s appointments from Ipoh GH to the hospital nearer to the shelter home, to make it easier for the people at the shelter home to bring him for his hospital appointments. I taught her how to go about, and that she need not bring her father to Ipoh to get the necessary referral letters from the doctor.

When I gave her a friendly advise that she should be visiting her father from time to time once she sends her to the shelter home, Amy said, “Memang kami nak melawat, bukan nak tinggalkan terus. Nak hantar ni pun saya serba salah, tapi saya betul-betul dah tak upaya nak jaga dia.”

I hope she meant what she said.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ten! Ten! Ten!

Saja nak post something on my blog on 10.10.10 at 10:10, so here's just something very brief on the function I attended yesterday at Hotel Singgahsana, PJ - Jamuan Hari Raya & Pelancaran Buku "Coming to Terms with Cancer - Courage & Acceptance.

The book - published by MGC/TKC OGA's own HANI - Health Awareness Network Initiatives


The backdrop


Dato' Sri Shahrizat launching the book.

The book is sold at RM40 each.

Friday, 8 October 2010

So who wants to take care of him now?

I had to attend a meeting in Lumut this morning, final preparations for next week’s exhibition (organised by MAC) in TLDM Lumut. It had been quite a while since I last went to Lumut, so I wasn’t really sure how long it would take to get to Lumut from Ipoh. I wasn’t really worried about how to get to TLDM as I know all I had to do was get on the Ipoh-Lumut highway…. jalan lurus, jangan belok-belok… lalalalalala

However, there were quite a number of traffic lights I had to pass along the road, and it so happened every time I reached the traffic lights, the lights turned RED! When I finally reached TLDM, I had to stop at the main entrance to leave my IC and get a pass. Then to ask for instructions how to get to the place of meeting. And so I ended up for the meeting 15 minutes late, which is something that seldom happens to me. Now, if the meeting was the usual meeting I had to attend on the “Men Against Violence” campaign, being 15 minutes late means you’re not late. However, today’s meeting was at a Navy base, so meeting started 9 am sharp!

Anyway, on my way back after the meeting, a call came in from a lady, a JKM staff. Apparently a few days ago she did call, but her 2 calls (one after another) came in while I was performing my solat asar, and since the number wasn’t a familiar number, I didn’t return call.

This time she called while I was driving, but since I was on handsfree, I answered the call. Besides I was no longer in a hurry, so I could take my own sweet time driving. The lady wanted to discuss with me about Ramli. Remember Ramli? The guy who had 4 wives when he was healthy, and now that he is bedridden, all 4 wives left him. One died (the one his daughter, Amy, suspected he got the virus from), while the other 3 simply left him. I can understand wife #4 who had no kids, but wife #2 not only left him, she left 3 of her 4 kids as well! She only took the eldest one with her.

Now that Ramli is not even capable of taking care of himself, his 3 younger sons are without proper parents care. Lucky for them, Amy, their half sister from wife #1, took over the responsibility of becoming their guardian. That includes supporting them financially. She herself is not working, dependent on her husband, but now that they have a baby of their own, surely it is not easy for them, financially, physically and emotionally. The financial problem is easier to solve. Other than our help for the children’s educational needs, the welfare department is also giving them some assistance.

The problem now is, Amy is already feeling all stressed out. Her father now needs 24 hour care. He is totally dependent on others. The burden is getting too much for her. Right now her husband may not complain, but what if later he gets fed up. Besides, Amy has got a young 3 month old baby of her own who needs her attention. Amy has no problem taking care of her 3 younger half-brothers. She has never complained about taking care of them.

Taking care of Ramli is not an easy task. He needs help to be bathed, to change his diapers, to eat, in fact almost everything! With this HIV status, Amy couldn’t even pay people to do the job even if she could afford it. Amy was asking the JKM if they could arrange for a home for him. The JKM officer handling her case (the one who called me) was sympathetic, but according to her JKM’s homes don’t cater for PLHIVs, especially since Ramli needs someone to care for him all the time. The officer tried liaising with the hospital, but the people at the hospital said they couldn’t cater for him unless someone from the family can stay at the hospital to take care of him. Duh, if a family member can take care of him, might as well stay home, no?

Amy does have an elder brother staying together with the father (at the father’s house), but he works as a security guard. The welfare officer did suggest that maybe he should quit his job for the moment and depend on financial aid, so he could take care of his father. But Amy’s brother has a history of depression, and Amy is afraid that if her brother quits his job, when he’s broke he may get into his depression again. Which will make it even worse for Amy.

The poor girl, only 20 and already having to shoulder too many responsibilities.

So yeah, with Amy almost giving up, who’s going to take care of Ramli now?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The babies

When Asiah and her husband found out that she was pregnant last year, her husband was thinking of abortion. Likewise, recently, when Razif & wife found out that the wife was pregnant, they too were thinking of abortion. They had not even gone to see the doctors yet, but they called me to ask for my opinion. They were probably thinking that their baby would definitely be infected.

When I give talks on HIV/AIDS, many had thought that babies born to HIV+ mothers are sure to be infected. Some were surprised when I told them that there is a possibility that the babies won’t be infected.

Actually only a small percentage of babies born to HIV+ mothers are infected. It used it be 30%, then reduced to 10%. Now with all the measures taken – taking medication during pregnancy, caesarian delivery, and no breastfeeding – there is a great chance that the babies would be spared from the virus… contrary to many people’s belief that babies born to HIV+ mothers are 100% sure to be infected.

As a matter of fact, if I were to base it on the cases I’ve dealt with ever since I joined as a volunteer, all the babies have been confirmed negative.

The first few pregnancy cases I dealt with were those of Yah, Fuzi, Maria and Zana. The worse one at that time was the case of Zana’s pregnancy; she was unwed, and she hid her pregnancy (even the doctors at the HIV clinic didn’t know she was pregnant – I was the first to find out… even then because she was seeking my help to get a shelter home for her and I forced her to tell me the whole truth if she wanted me to help her). By the time the doctors started her on medication, she was already in her 3rd trimester.

All the 5 babies born to the 4 ladies above (Zana delivered twins) have been confirmed negative. Sadly though, one of Zana’s twin babies died of an illness, but nothing to do with HIV. The surviving ones are already 5 years old now.

The next few pregnancy cases I got assigned to were Mrs K, followed by Sha. In the case of Mrs K, she herself were amazingly not infected despite Mr K’s very low level of CD4. So with Mrs K not infected, there was no worry about the baby being infected. Sha however, found out about her own infection when she went for her pregnancy tests, and was very concerned about the baby. Her baby is 4 now, and confirmed negative.

Then there was Murni, who was introduced to me after she gave birth. Murni’s daughter, 2 years now, too has been confirmed negative.

Another case was Sharifah – the young unwed mother. She herself only found out she was pregnant during her 3rd trimester (her period had always been irregular, and she’s quite chubby and so she thought she was just a bit more buncit than usual). Her little baby girl is 1 year plus now, and she too has been confirmed negative.

After Sharifah’s case, an old client, Asiah, who had already known she was HIV+, panicked when she found out she was pregnant. But Asiah’s baby is already 10 months now, and so far, tests indicated that the boy is also negative.

Azimah was introduced to me right after she gave birth. Her baby girl is also about the age of Asiah’s baby boy, and again, so far tests had shown negative results.

The last HIV client of mine who gave birth was Halimah, whose baby would be about 6 months by now. And so far so good.

So yeah, that’s a 100% clean slate for my clients. Of course, that doesn’t mean HIV+ couples don’t have to worry about planning to have a child. There are other things to consider, like their CD4 and viral load count. Those with low CD4 and high viral load count would have higher risks.

The only HIV+ children I know, Nuri’s daughter, Farah; Fuzi’s son, Ijam; Lily’s son, Boboy; and Pushpa (whose parents both have died), are aged between 8 – 14 years now. Their mothers had not known of their HIV status until much later, not during their pregnancy. And so none of the precautions mentioned above were taken.

Right now there are 3 pregnancy cases I have to monitor – Liza, the young 20 year old who is separated from her husband; Ina, the Orang Asli whose husband passed away a few months ago; and the latest is Razif’s wife, who, the last I know, had not even informed the doctors yet of her pregnancy.

Which reminds me, I’d better check with the nurse at the ID clinic to see if Razif and wife had arranged for an earlier appointment.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The sponsored children…

For the past week I’ve been using my facebook account to look for additional sponsors to cover the educational needs of some children of our PLHIVs. After visiting them at their homes to assess their situation, I finally managed to compile a list of additional children needing help.

Before the additional children whom I’ve just recently included in the list, we already had 21 children already sponsored. We now have an additional 12 names. Within the past week, I’ve managed to find sponsors for 8 of them. That leaves another 4 needing sponsorship, in addition to another child who was sponsored for this year, but needs a new sponsor for next year in view of the fact that the old sponsor is no longer contactable.

So far none of the children from the earlier list had been dropped out for whatever reasons. Yes, there were some slight disciplinary problems with one or two of the kids, but they seem to be doing better now. Sometimes the problem lies not with the children themselves, but the parents. It’s not easy for us to really monitor that the money is actually used for the educational needs of the children, but we’d still try our very best.

The 21 children that had been sponsored so far?

4 of Fuzi’s children are schooling, and all 4 sponsored by 3 different sponsors. Her 2 older girls are doing quite well in school, in fact, Wina, the eldest is one of the top students in her class. She’s sitting for her PMR this week. Her 2 boys are average students, but seem keen to go to school. Although Hafiz, Fuzi’s 3rd child, had at one time caused all sorts of problems due to his wrong choice of friends, nowadays he seldom goes out with his friends in the neighborhood.

Valli’s 2 sons are rather disciplined and doing quite well in school.

Shila’s daughter Laila, is also an average student, but had always been eager to go to school. Although Shila herself had given up on hospital appointments and ARV medication, thank goodness she hasn’t given up on her daughter’s education.

Then there’s Hana’s 2 girls. I have to be a bit careful with Hana as sometimes she tends to do that muka kesian of hers saying tak cukup duit, duit belum masuk etc. I always need to remind her that the sponsorship is only for her children’s educational needs and doesn’t cover other household needs. Her kids too, if it was up to them, would ask for this and that, but no, we cannot be too giving. We do want to help them for their future, not to pamper them.

Another sponsored child is Pushpa, HIV+ orphan who stays with the grandmother. Pushpa doesn’t seem to be doing too well in school, but we still need to stress to her on the importance of education.

Out of Wani’s 2 sons, the older one who has hearing problems, needs to go to a special school a bit far from their home and as such involves higher bus fares. But with the sponsorship programme, Wani doesn’t have too worry too much about it. Her younger son is doing OK in an ordinary school.

Lin, another client of mine, has 6 children; and although only the younger 2 are still schooling, the older 3 are still studying in higher learning institutions while the no. 4 who sat for his SPM in 2009, did not go for further studies. Instead right now he is doing odd jobs. None of the older children are able to help out Lin financially yet, so Lin’s 2 younger children, a boy and a girl, still need assistance for their schooling. The 2 are average students in school. I have not been able to get hold of the son’s sponsor though, and so I will need to source for a new sponsor for him.

Meng Lan’s only daughter is in form 4 this year. I don’t get much updates from this family since Meng Lan’s buddy doesn’t update me frequently, but the latest I heard was that the daughter is beginning to feel lazy to go for tuitions etc. I’m not really sure what the problem is all about. I’d better get the buddy to follow up.

Another family who has been involved in our sponsorship programme is Sofie’s. 2 of her 4 children had been sponsored since last year (I couldn’t get enough sponsors then). Alhamdulillah, during the past week, I managed to get sponsors for the other 2 as well. The boys need to be reminded often about the importance of education for the future, but Sofie’s youngest girl, has been very enthusiastic in school. In addition, she’s also a fast learner when it comes to reciting the holy Quran. Now the family has moved to a new place, she’s asking if there’s a sekolah agama rakyat nearby.

Another child who started receiving financial aid under this programme is from an orang asli family. I’ve never met Wan or her son personally, as they stay in a kampong not accessible by car. I will have to check with Wan’s buddy who usually meets up with her in the nearby town to get updates.

Another family getting sponsored this year is Aini’s family. Her 3 children are all in secondary school. The eldest, a girl, is in form four this year and had opted for a vocational school after a poor showing in last year’s PMR. But she proved that she made the right choice when she started showing excellence, even getting awards from the school. Aini’s 2nd son is doing okay in school, while the youngest son, seems to be more interested in co-curricular activities.

Those are the 21 children sponsored this year. With 12 additional children for next year, there should be 33 children sponsored by the next schooling year. As it is, I’ve got sponsors for 8 of them already, so I now need to look for 5 more sponsors – 4 for the balance from the new list, and 1 for Lin’s son, whose old sponsor is no longer contactable.

The important thing is, no matter what the circumstances are, these children must not be deprived of basic education at the very least. Of course, we always tell them that the sponsorship will be revoked if they are caught using the sponsorship for things other than their educational needs. And in this respect, I have to admit, I am a bit strict with the children and their guardians. Besides, it’s not my money I’m handling, it’s the sponsors’ money entrusted to us to be used for the children’s educational needs!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Men Against Violence!

Today's posting is not about any of the HIV families I'm dealing with.

Instead, since a few NGOs in Perak have been invited to join a committee to deal with women, children and social issues, I've been roped in to be in the organising committee for a few seminars and campaigns. The first was a seminar on Domestic Violence held in May this year.

I'm sure many of us have heard a lot of campaigns like "Say NO to Violence Against Women" and the likes. But if you'd notice, those who take part in those campaigns are mostly women. Let's target the MEN. So yes, our next event is the launch of the "Men Against Violence" campaign.


"MEN AGAINST VIOLENCE"
Day/Date : Sunday, 31st October 2010
Venue: Padang Sultan Abdul Aziz (Padang Polo), Ipoh
Time: 7.00 am - 1.00 pm
Guest of honour: YAB Dato' Seri Zambry bin Abdul Kadir, MB of Perak

7.00 - 8.00 am : Registration
8.00 - 9.00 am : Senamrobik
9.00 am : Start of activities including exhibition booths & coloring competition
9.45 am : Arrival of guest of honour
10.00 am : Launch of campaign by Mentri Besar of Perak
10.30 am -
1.00 pm : Exhibition booths/coloring competition/martial arts demo

Free campaign t-shirts will be given free to those who register early.

Come one, come all! Bring your family, bring your friends!


Friday, 1 October 2010

2222

At the end and/or beginning of each month, as usual, I’d be delivering groceries to the 2 families who monthly groceries are sponsored by a particular club until the end of this year.

I had initially wanted to visit Lin first on Thursday, but she said she’d be sending her daughter to KLIA – summer holidays are over for the daughter and so she needs to go back overseas where she is currently studying.

So I decided to deliver the groceries to Sofie’s house first. She had just started renting a new house early last week, and so this was my first visit to her new home. This time, the instruction given by Sofie was quite clear… unlike the instruction she gave during my visit to her old house, where she told me to find a house with a buaian hijau outside. :-)

I managed to get to Sofie’s house without any problems, and without using the GPS. Her place now is nearer to Ipoh, almost half the distance to the old house. Makes it much easier for me to visit.

The house, being a new house, of course looks a lot better. It is in fact better in many aspects – 2 bedrooms (as compared to just 1 in the old house), better drainage and no worries about water getting into the house during heavy rains.

The children, however, are still schooling at their old schools, which means they need to get up earlier and cannot go by bicycle like they did from their old home. Sofie will need to go to PPD Ipoh to transfer her children to nearby schools.

The rental rate is RM100 higher than the earlier house, but it’s worth it although for the moment budget is a bit tight for her. Sofie has been looking around for small time business opportunities – there are already a few stalls selling kuih including goreng pisang, one selling ais kacang but after scouting around, none sells burger. So yep, her plan is to set up a burger stall as her source of income. Despite her illnesses, despite her weaknesses, this woman got vision lah, I like… :-)

By 3.30 pm I made a move from Sofie’s house. Buddies board meeting was to be held at night, so I wanted to get home early to be able to get a rest before going out again for the meeting. We didn’t have a meeting last month because Mdm Chair wanted to do her terawikh prayers, while the vice-chair was on MC due to throat cancer. Despite discussing 2 months’ matters, I still managed to finish the meeting in about an hour. Just go straight to the point. No side-tracking!

Friday was Lin’s turn to be visited. After checking with her and finding out that she’d be coming home right after her daughter checks in for her flight, I told her I’d be coming on Friday afternoon. Only after I made that plan did 2 more appointments came – one was a business appointment (I need to earn an income too kan?), and the other was a meeting on the Men Against Violence campaign, of which I had been roped in to be in the organising committee.

So in the morning, after sending some documents/forms to our center (for further action by another volunteer), off I went to my former office. When I resigned from the company, my former boss had indicated that she’d still be passing some of the jobs to me – basically jobs which the staff aren’t experienced enough to do like projected financial statements and winding up jobs. When I went I thought I’d be getting a winding up job… only to find out that I was getting 2 winding up jobs! Alhamdulillah, rezeki…

Right after that appointment, I headed straight to the minimarket where I usually get the supply of groceries. The minimarket so happens to be near my former office.

After lunch and zohor prayer at home, off I headed to Lin’s house. It was raining earlier, but by the time I wanted to leave home, the rain had already stopped. But halfway to Lin’s house, it rained cats and dogs! Aduh, I was thinking, how la was I supposed to unload the groceries from my car in the heavy rain? I still drove on, hoping and praying at the same time that the rain would subside by the time I reached Lin’s house, or that it wasn’t raining at Lin’s house.

Alhamdulillah, prayer answered. The sky was dark when I reached Lin’s house, but it hadn’t rained yet. So unloading the groceries from my car wasn’t a problem. Better still, Lin’s son was home, and so he helped to carry down the stuff.

I just had a short chat with Lin. There was a meeting I needed to attend after that, so I quickly made a move. I got to the meeting a bit late though (I had told the chairperson of the organising meeting earlier that I may be late because I already had other plans outside of Ipoh). Coincidentally, when I reached Ipoh, I had to pass through a route full of traffic lights, and as luck would have had it, every time I reached the traffic lights, the lights went red…

I got to the meeting half an hour late, but when I walked in, they had actually just started  the meeting. So I wasn’t really late at all! Well, plans are now finalised, the Men Against Violence (MAV) campaign will officially be launched by the Mentri Besar of Perak at Ipoh Polo Ground on Sunday, 31st October 2010. Do come and support the programme! I will post more details later.

So, what has the subject 2222 got to do with this posting?

Within these 2 days, I delivered groceries to 2 families, attended 2 meetings and got 2 winding up jobs… :-)