As I got to the main entrance of Ipoh GH this morning, I knew finding a parking space would be tough. I didn’t even bother trying to find a nearby parking space… I just went one round and straight away I went to park my car where nobody would go to unless they had to. It was quite a walking distance, but since I was no longer limping, I figured the much needed exercise would do me good.
I didn’t have a chance to sit yet when the nurse told me that a client wanted to see me. Not a new case, but an old case. The lady Shanti, had been receiving our assistance earlier under the Children Education Fund for their back-to-school expenses.
Shanti’s husband passed away a few years ago and since then she and her 3 children had been staying at her father’s house, living on her father’s pension. She worked before but now her father no longer allows her to work as she often gets into fits when she’s tired.
We managed to get her welfare aid of RM300 per month, but that’s hardly enough for her family. So she wanted to see me today to ask if we Buddies could help with her out. After listening to her, I told her we can’t help her for every single thing but we may be able to help out with the children’s school bus fares using our Children Education Fund. She seemed happy enough with that assurance.
I then checked with the nurse if there were any new cases to be referred to me. According to the nurse, there were none. But I still waited at the counselling room, hoping I may bump into any of my old clients whom I had not met for quite a while.
True enough, before long, Asiah walked in to get her supply of ARV. She handed over the slip to the pharmacist and then walked out (the pharmacist would call her in once the medication was ready). Asiah didn’t notice me. So I walked out to meet her. As we were chatting, her husband came by with their 1+ year old son. I was quite surprised that the husband actually acknowledged my presence, asked how I was doing and even said a few more words than that. Wow! That’s a whole lot of improvement. Usually, whenever I meet up with Asiah, he’d usually shy away and wait elsewhere. Even during last year’s Family Day, although he came with his family, he’d just sit by himself away from the rest.
Around 11.30 am or so, knowing that there were no new cases, I thought I might as well make a move. No point wasting my time there doing nothing. But before leaving, I went to take a peek at the area outside the doctor’s room, to see if there were any of my clients there. Sure glad I decided to take a peek… I saw Zainab there. I had been trying to get hold of her but my calls never got through. My guess was that she may no longer have a phone.
Zainab was chatting with another lady, and didn’t see me coming. So I went to stand right in front of her face. The moment she saw me, immediately she got up, gave me a hug, kissed my cheeks and said, “Ya Allah akak, lamanya tak jumpa, rindu kat akak!”
True enough, her old phone went kaput and she no longer has a phone. And since she works on shifts, it’s difficult for me to simply visit her at home. I don’t want to end up visiting her when she’s at work with only Zaki, her husband at home. Her daughter, Kakak, was warded for 10 days recently and although Zainab wanted to call me to inform me about it, she had lost my phone number.
I immediately invited her to our Family Day and after finding out the date, she immediately said yes. “Sekarang ni hari Ahad dah takde overtime dah kak,” she said. Actually she had been depending on overtime to earn extra income but of late the company where she works had not been doing too well and so there is very limited overtime given.
I asked if Zaki was still working at the same place. Somehow I wasn’t surprised when she said, “Ish, dia tu kak… mana kerja dah!” Typical of Zaki, always using his HIV as an excuse not work. Even when he finds himself a job, after a while, he’d find an excuse to quit. This wasn’t the first time – he had done so a few times already to the extent that every time he lands himself a job, the first question that comes to my mind is how long he’d last with the job.
It’s always Zainab who’s thinking of their 2 children. She too has HIV but even when she doesn’t feel too well (she also has high blood pressure), she’d be happy when she gets to do overtime for that would mean earning a bit extra for the month.
So now, Zainab pays for the rent, she pays for the food, she pays for the children’s needs. And the part I hate most, Zaki buys cigarettes using her income too. Sigh…