Remember the Orang Asli lady staying in an ulu kampong whom I never had the chance to visit as her house is not accessible by car? I finally got to see her personally… by chance! I was at the ID clinic to get some info from the nurse, and at the very same time there was a patient who came in to ask for an MC. Her appointment to see the doctor would be in 2 weeks time, and so usually they are required to come about 2 weeks earlier for their blood tests so that by the time they come for their appointments, the blood test results would be ready in their medical files.
I heard the nurse saying, “Ambil darah aje mana boleh bagi MC, *Wan!”
When I heard the name Wan (not real name, of course), I immediately figured that must be the Orang Asli whom I’ve been talking to by phone just a few days before to ask about her son’s schooling needs. I introduced myself to her, and immediately she responded with, “Oh, ni yang telefon saya hari tu ya?” Hopefully with that chance meet in the doctor’s room, after this she’d feel more comfortable talking to me. True enough, after that she started sending me info via SMS even without me having to ask.
Anyway, I asked her why she didn’t simply take leave from work. “Tak boleh kak, majikan saya strict. Nanti kena buang kerja.”
Ah, another of those no-annual-leave employers, huh?
Wan promised she’d inform me about her son’s school fees, workbooks etc as soon as she gets the chance to go to her son’s school to get the details. Ever since Wan started working, she has been staying in town with a group of friends, while her son stays with Wan’s mother back in the Orang Asli kampong. She only goes back on weekends. I asked if her kampong house is accessible by car. “Boleh kak, tapi kereta yang tinggi lah.” (she meant 4-wheel drive)
OK, so going in my Kenari is out of the question.
Yesterday I went with a fellow volunteer to visit Nalini’s family. Remember Nalini, the 15 year old HIV positive orphan? When I suggested to the aunt earlier that since the girl has stopped schooling, then maybe she should go for a short course or something – at least to equip her with some skills which she may use for her future. Although Nalini now stays with her aunt, the aunt was the one who suggested that for the first visit, we should go to the grandma’s home so we could discuss the matter with the whole family. She promised she’d bring Nalini back to the grandma’s home for the meet.
Nalini’s assigned buddy then arranged for the meet to be held yesterday. Initially we were supposed to fetch Nalini and her aunt and then proceed to the grandma’s house. Later however, the aunt told my colleague that they’d be at the grandma’s house from morning, so there was no need for us to fetch her at her house.
So off we went, and when we reached the grandma’s kampong, we called Nalini’s aunt, as promised. Although the calls were initially not answered, the aunt finally returned our call. When told that we were already at the kampong, she said she’d call her brother to come and fetch us.
After a while, the brother. Nalini’s uncle, came on a motorbike. We followed him to the grandma’s home, expecting to whole family there, including Nalini and her aunt.
Greeting us at the door was the grandma. No sign of Nalini, no sign of the aunt. The uncle then called someone, I assume the aunt, shouting at the person. At first the conversation was in Tamil, I didn’t understand the details, but he was obviously angry as he was shouting. Later on he spoke a few words in Malay, I guess to make me understand, calling the other person on the line as “bodoh” and the likes. Apparently they didn’t know heads or tails what our visit was about. Nalini’s aunt just told them that there were people coming to discuss about the girl. Problem was, she should have been there as well, together with Nalini, but she didn’t do as she had promised. So both the grandma and uncle were upset and angry. Thank goodness they didn’t vent out their anger at us instead.
Although the grandma just sat there for a while and then went to the back and then out, the uncle did sit down to talk to us. We told him that our main purpose is to get their permission to arrange for something for Nalini so that she’d have a better future. The grandma did mention earlier (before she got up and left us) that she didn’t mind Nalini going for a course if it was nearby. The uncle told us to ask Nalini personally, and if she herself agrees, then they wouldn’t object.
Oh well, we didn’t expect the drama that took place, but at least basically we got their permission to arrange something for Nalini, provided Nalini herself agrees. So I told my colleague to meet up with Nalini, and if possible to talk to her alone, to be sure that whatever she says is not in any way influenced by anybody. No point arranging something for her but she ends up not taking advantage of the help given.
When I went to visit to Sofie on Friday, she did mention she’d probably be warded for 2 or 3 days. I told her to give me a call once she’s discharged so that she doesn’t have to go up and down the bus to get home.
This morning, I decided to call her around 11 am to check if she had been discharged. Saiful answered the call, “Belum keluar lagi makcik!”
He then passed the phone to Sofie. According to Sofie, on Sunday, the doctors did mention that there was a possibility she’d be discharged on Monday. However the same evening, she fainted when she was in the toilet. The nurses had to carry her back to her bed. So when the doctors did their rounds this morning, there was no mention about discharge.
Saiful missed another day of school today, and looks like he will miss at least another day tomorrow.
I sure hope Sofie will get better soon, so she can go home and Saiful will not need to miss another day of school.