… as a volunteer with the Buddies of Ipoh.
I joined as a trainee volunteer just after Buddies Society of Ipoh was set up as a separate organisation on its own; after being a wing under the Perak Family Health Association since 1997. As a trainee, all I did was follow my “mummy” (the senior volunteer assigned to supervise the trainee) in her visits. Didn’t do many visits though… as my “mummy” didn’t have that many clients. However, since I had a flexi-hour job, I was able to join their clinic duty teams. I learnt a lot from those clinic duties.
I finally got confirmed as a buddy despite not having enough exposure in doing house visits. We were getting more and more Malay ladies as our clients, yet there wasn’t a single Malay female buddy available. The very day the Board agreed to confirm me as a buddy, immediately 4 clients were handed over to me. They were Ifa, Zainab, Cikgu Maznah and Nina. These were actually old cases earlier on assigned to other buddies. I did manage to get hold of Ifa and Zainab, and I am still in touch with them. However, I never managed to get hold of Cikgu Maznah. I was told her husband was a very bad tempered guy, not wanting his wife to speak to anyone without his knowledge. As for Nina, I did manage to speak to her once by phone, but she was rather reluctant to talk. So I let them be. I did send them Raya cards with my phone number written, in case they needed to talk, but they never did call me.
Zana’s case was also referred to me in 2005, but she made a disappearing act soon after (changed her phone number and missed her hospital appointments),
Quite a number of cases were referred to me in 2006. There was Rose, who I got to know during the last 2 1/2 months of her life. During that period, I really concentrated on her alone as she was really weak (she had cervical cancer as well). Rose died in May 2006.
Other clients referred to me in 2006 were Maria, Nuri (and HIV+ daughter Farah), Sha, Noni, Yah (& husband Azman who died the same year), Fuzi (and HIV+ son Ijam).
After her disappearing act in 2005, Zana contacted me in 2006. Of course she contacted me because she had a problem. I had to send her to a shelter home in KL because she was no longer accepted by her family due to her 2nd time unwed pregnancy.
I was also roped into the Board during the 2006 AGM.
More cases were referred in 2007. There was Lily (and HIV+ son Boboy), Jah & Asiah (2 old cases but passed to me by another buddy who moved to KL), Mr & Mrs K (yep, the ones who were always “tak ada duit” no matter how much they got), Hana & husband Rashid, Rina, and also Ani.
Lily died during the year and her son was sent to a home for HIV kids. Rashid and Rina too died the same year, immediately after Raya.
One case of a 74 year old HIV+ lady, Makcik Minah, was also referred to me this year, but I never managed to get hold of her, and she never came for her hospital appointments after the first one. The last I heard, Makcik Minah died alone at her home.
During 2007 AGM, I was elected as the treasurer for Buddies.
Due to the many cases already assigned to me, as far as possible, my colleagues would avoid handing new cases to me in 2008. Furthermore in 2008, I was elected as the chairperson of Buddies and it was also in 2008 that we started our Education Sponsorship for Children Programme, which became my baby, taking up the bulk of my time.
There were only 2 new cases assigned to me during the year – Lin, who contacted me herself after getting my number from the Buddies brochure; and the husband/wife couple of Samsul/Suhaila.
Samsul & Suhaila are now no longer contactable, in fact they are also defaulting their hospital appointments. As for Lin, her children are under our sponsorship programme, and I do visit them on a monthly basis.
Although my colleagues would try to avoid handing new cases to me, I’d still get assigned new cases from time to time… particularly the problematic cases. My so-called expertise? Hard-core poor single mothers, and pregnant ladies, wed or unwed.
4 cases were referred to me during the year – 2 were hard core poor families: Murni ( who remarried and had a toddler) and Sofie (one of the saddest cases I had seen); and 2 cases of unwed pregnancies: Sharifah (who gave birth to my little Cek Mek) and Anita, the ingrate who talked badly about Kak Ana after she sought shelter at Kak Ana’s home for some time.
Another case, Rosnah, a single mother, didn’t fall under hard-core poor or pregnant lady. However, she was the type who found it hard to open up, and once she felt comfortable with me, I couldn’t pass her to anybody (there was no point, she’d still be calling me anyway).
More cases referred to me despite the already long list of clients. One of our volunteers left during the year, and so her 2 cases were handed over to me as the clients, Aini and Aza, already knew me and as such were more comfortable with me. 5 other cases were all pregnancy cases: Azimah, Halimah, Liza (all 3 had already delivered) and Ina (the orang asli lady due to deliver anytime).
Another case, Razif, was actually somebody else’s case, but when Razif’s wife (who’s also +ve) got pregnant, Razif started calling me seeking advise and after a while even got his wife to see me so that I could speak to her myself.
Ramli’s case was also assigned to another volunteer, but Ramli’s daughter, Amy, kept on calling me every time she needed help or advise. However, now Ramli, who’s bedridden, had been sent to a shelter home while his schooling children (Amy’s half-brothers) are now in an orphanage, so I don’t foresee any more calls from Amy, not in the near future at least.
We also started our Taiping clinic duties in 2010, and a few cases had been referred. But thank goodness we now have a trainee volunteer who stays north of Perak, and so the northern cases like Aza’s and Maya’s can be passed to her under my supervision.
With already over 30 clients (after leaving out those who have died) and over 70 children of theirs, will there be any new cases referred to me in 2011?
Amongst my fellow volunteers, I have the most clients. Most of the other volunteers only have less than 5 clients each.
My guess is, if there are any hard-core poor or pregnant ladies referred to us, particularly the Malay ladies, chances are, they’d be assigned to me as well…