It is almost the end of March. Noticing that my last house visit was in February, I planned for 2 house visits yesterday.
The first was another volunteer’s case. The client passed away some time beginning of the year, but the buddy highlighted to me that the client’s family may still need help. The late client’s father, who is asthmatic, works as a security guard at a nearby factory, while the mother is a fulltime housewife, who collects recyclable items to help get some additional income for the family. Both in their 50’s, still has a 13 year old daughter who may need schooling help. The buddy told me that the family was dirt poor.
To assess the family’s situation, I decided to go for a visit together with the buddy and another volunteer. Then we could decide whether the daughter should be considered for CEF or for sponsorship.
So yesterday morning, after my usual pasar tani routine and leaving my soup in the slow cooker, off I went, first to the center to get a box of groceries which I had kept aside for the family. Then to a fellow volunteer’s house to fetch her to come along with me. Then to the home of the buddy of the above-mentioned client. His house is quite near the client’s house. After a short discussion at his home, off we went in my car to the client’s home. Since the family we were visiting collects recyclable items, the buddy brought along some used cans he had collected to be given to them.
All three, the father, the mother & the 13 year old daughter were home. The father didn’t go to work as he was unwell. He gets a basic pay of RM700 per month. House rental is RM250 per month. He has another daughter who works at a factory who helps out with the house rental. The youngest daughter’s school fees had been partly paid, but there was still about RM60 which has yet to be paid. School bus fare is RM60 per month.
This is a poor family, but I’ve seen worse. At least he does get a fixed income. I think we can consider the daughter under our Children Education Fund. Those considered for our Sponsorship Program are usually worse off than this family. But we shall decide on that later, when we meet for our Board meeting this Tuesday night.
We then left, and after I sent the buddy back to his home, and then the other volunteer back to her home, off I went to our centre again. This time to collect the other box of groceries. I planned to visit Sofie’s family later in the afternoon, so I figured I might as well put the groceries in my car so I didn’t have to go to the centre again later.
After zohor, off I went to Sofie’s house. I had promised to bring her son Saiful to the optician to either get his glasses repaired, or to make a new pair.
You see, the specialist at Ipoh GH had suggested that the boy wears glasses with thinner lenses, although he also did say that it may be a bit more expensive. Sofie of course couldn’t afford to make Saiful a new pair of glasses. Then last month, when Sofie was hospitalised and Saiful accompanied her at the hospital for more than 2 weeks, Saiful accidentally dropped his glasses. Well, the lenses were okay, the metal frame still held the lenses in place, but the nose pads were gone and the arms which held the nose pads were broken. Replacing the nose pads was not an option. Saiful could still wear the glasses, but it would hurt his nose.
We had 2 options, either to use the old lenses and just replace the frame, or to make him a new pair of glasses. That was only to be decided when we got to the optician.
Only Saiful followed me. Sofie and Ika didn’t come along as Sofie was not feeling too well.
When we got to the optician, the guy did try to find frames which could fit Saiful’s old lenses. That was the only way we could get it done immediately. If the lenses were to be reshaped to fit into new frames, Saiful would be without glasses for a few days. With a power of 950 and 750 respectively for the right and left eyes, Saiful is not supposed to be without glasses except when he sleeps and when he bathes.
We couldn’t find a suitable frame for the old lenses. Since the specialist at the Ipoh GH had already suggested that Saiful wears glasses with thinner lenses, I asked the guy to make a new pair. At least while waiting for the new pair to be ready, Saiful could still wear the old pair.
At first the guy told me the new pair would cost RM400. Then I started talking about Saiful’s family background. Then he started discussing with his colleague (which I couldn’t understand because they were speaking Cantonese). You see, initially they thought I was Saiful’s mother. When they found out that Saiful came from a poor family, that his mother was unwell and his father’s whereabouts was not known, that I was just from an NGO helping this family, they finally decided to charge me RM299 instead of the original RM400. Woo hoo!
After paying the deposit and getting the receipt, I then sent Saiful back home. This time I could chat longer with Sofie. It was only then did I find out that Saiful actually needed to get a pair of cadet uniform which Sofie couldn’t afford. I asked Sofie why she didn’t inform me earlier.
“Saya seganlah nak bagitau akak. Akak dah banyak sangat tolong kami.”
I had to explain to her yet again that all the financial help her family was getting didn’t come from me personally. I reminded her again to inform me of any needs related to the children’s schooling. I told her all her children are under our Sponsorship Program, each of them with a specific individual sponsor.
So yep, will be bringing Saiful out again to get his cadet uniform. Since he is getting a day off on Monday due to some big-do at the school on Sunday, I promised him I’d fetch him on Monday afternoon.
Later after I got home, Sofie called me. You see, Azman her second son who wasn’t home when I visited earlier, found out that I’d be bringing Saiful to buy his cadet uniform. It was only then did he inform his mother that he too was in the cadets and needed a uniform as well. He didn’t tell his mother earlier as he knew she couldn’t afford it. So this time Sofie called me and asked Azman to speak to me.
Since Azman too goes to the same school as Saiful, he too gets a day off from school on Monday. So I told him to come along with me on Sunday together with Saiful.
My only concern now is whether we can get a pair of cadet uniform for Saiful’s size. He’s too small for his age…