With 2 events to attend this coming weekend, this week is quite a busy week for me. Other than having to ensure the overall smooth running of our Family Day on Sunday, most of the attendees will be my clients and so I’ve got to make quite a number of calls to remind them of the event and to inform them on the where, when and whatever else. And I’ve got to make sure things are settled by Friday, because on Saturday I’d have to go to Putrajaya to attend the MGC/TKC OGA AGM. This one I need to attend as there will be committee elections this year and one sure way of not becoming elected is to agree to become the “election officer”. Otherwise there are bound to be people who’d approach me and say, “I nominate your name ok?”
It is also nearing the end of the month, which means it is also time for my monthly grocery delivery. I needed to remind Sofie anyway of what time I’d be fetching them on Sunday morning, so today I went to first buy the groceries, called Sofie to make sure she’s home and then immediately headed to her house.
Saiful helped me to carry the groceries down from my car, while Ika was having her bath. “Kelam-kabut dia bangun dengar kata akak nak datang tadi,” said Sofie.
Anyway, Sofie told me that her sister, who stays with her and with whom she’s been sharing to pay the house rental of RM250, was offered free accommodation by her employer at her workplace. That would of course save a her a lot of money – no rental to pay, and cut costs on transportation too as the accommodation is right behind the factory where she works.
Good for Sofie’s sister, but now Sofie has a problem. She simply cannot afford to pay RM250 per month alone. “Saya dengan anak-anak nak makan apa nanti kak?”
Sofie doesn’t have a job. Every time she felt better she’d try getting herself a job and ended up with all sorts of medical complications as she is not really fit yet. Her only source of income now (other than the RM200 financial aid we’ve arranged for her) is by taking orders to cook food or kuih-muih. She cooks at home and the customers would come and get the food from her home. But it’s not fixed, and it’s not consistent either.
Poor Sofie. When I first met her, she was so weak and poor she had no choice but to seek refuge at her eldest sister’s house. She was so weak, whenever I visited, she was most of the time lying down on a mattress. I started arranging for various assistance for her – groceries, bicycles for the children etc. Apparently, most of the assistance were misused by her sister’s family. Sofie could still tolerate that, but when the sister’s family including the children started saying harsh things about Sofie and her children, Sofie simply couldn’t take it any longer. I noticed whenever I visited, Sofie’s children didn’t talk much either.
Then when I managed to get additional financial assistance for Sofie, she finally moved to another house within the same neighbourhood. The rental was RM150, and the condition of the house was rather bad, but the children seemed happier the moment they moved out of their aunt’s house.
But things didn’t end there. Not satisfied that she could no longer “tumpang” the aid Sofie was getting, the sister started telling the neighbourhood that Sofie had HIV. In addition to that, the landlord didn’t bother to repair whatever that was faulty in the house. The chance to move out finally came, when a more sympathetic sister moved to Perak to stay with Sofie and so they found a better house with a rental of RM250 – shared equally by both.
It seemed okay for a while at that house, until the landlord started charging them unbelievably high water charges. You see, the landlord built a row of houses – all sharing the same water meter and so the landlord would bill them every month for the water usage for the whole block of houses he built. The thing was, at that time, the landlord was also building another row of houses using the same water meter. Surely the high usage of water would come mostly from the construction right? But the landlord billed the tenants who were there. Who could tahan being billed RM200 per month for water?!
So yes, they moved again. This time to a much better and bigger house, with the same rental rate of RM250, and with individual electricity and water bills, therefore they ddn’t have to worry about being charged for electricity or water which they didn’t use. The house is also nearer to Ipoh and so it had been easier for me to visit them regularly on monthly basis. Things seemed much better for Sofie.
That was until recently when Sofie’s sister was offered free accommodation by her employer. The accommodation is right behind the factory where she works. Of course, Sofie’s sister couldn’t resist the offer. She not only gets to save on rental, but also transportation!
The problem now is Sofie simply cannot afford to pay a rental of RM250 all by herself. Like it or not, she needs to find a cheaper house to rent. But where? She did tell me that she had gone looking for houses to rent but so far the cheapest she could find was RM200/month but not practical location-wise. Seriously, if she wants to reduce the rent by just RM50 but at same time she has to spend more on other things (like transportation etc), then it’s probably not worth it. Sofie had been eyeing a particular house she felt was practical but had yet to speak to the landlord. So she didn’t know what the rental was like.
Later when I got home, Sofie called. She said she finally managed to speak to the landlord of the house that she had been eyeing, and the landlord agreed to rent it out to her for RM150/month.
“Macam mana kak? Boleh tak saya pindah sana?” Whoah… why did she sound like she needed my permission to move to that house? Told her it was her decision. To me, as long as she doesn’t get into difficulty getting transportation for the children to go to school, and for her to go to the hospital, I’d support her decision.
Chances are this Sunday will be the last I’d be fetching her at the present house before Sofie and her children move again…