Having delivered groceries to 2 families on Tuesday, and having a hectic day at the clinic on Wednesday, yesterday I was planning to go out shopping again to stock up on the groceries to be delivered to the other needy families. As I was getting ready, a text message came in from a young chap, Vincent.
Vincent had emailed me earlier from Singapore, seeking my help on how he should go about to set up an appointment at the HIV clinic at Ipoh GH. I told him I could help him out if need be and so I gave him my number. I didn’t expect him to contact me so soon though. Just the day before he was emailing from Singapore and the very next morning he texted me saying he was already at the Ipoh GH.
Just as I was about to call him, another call came in on my hand phone. It was from the HIV clinic. The nurse had just called Hasnah, a PLHIV who was supposed to come for her appointment on Wednesday but did not turn up. The nurse was concerned because Hasnah had been on HAART for some time and missing her appointment would mean her supply of ARV was running out as well. When asked why, Hasnah started crying saying she didn’t have any money to come to Ipoh (her place is more than an hour’s drive away). She even went to the extent of saying, “Saya rasa macam nak bunuh diri.”
The nurse got rather concerned. She asked if Hasnah had ever met anyone from Buddies and when Hasnah said no, the nurse immediately told her, “OK takpe, jangan susah hati. Nanti saya telefon Kak Afizah bagitau.” Indeed, immediately the nurse called me up. Since I was going to the hospital anyway to meet up with Vincent, I told the nurse, I’d drop by the clinic to get all her particulars.
So yes, off to the hospital I went. I had promised Vincent I’d call him once I got there and so that was the first thing I did, asking him where he was exactly. He was at the main building where the wards were, not at the specialist clinic where he was supposed to go. So I told him to meet me halfway. But we didn’t know how each other looked like so I just told him I was wearing green and he said he was wearing white…. (as though lah nobody else would be wearing green and white kaaan?)
Oh well, we did manage to find each other. It wasn’t really so difficult… there was this lady in green looking as though she was looking out for a guy in white. And there was this young chap in white looking as though he was looking for a lady in green. *chuckle*
I then got him to follow me to the specialist clinic, told him to wait in front of the registration counter while I went in to see the nurses at the doctor’s room.
I handed over Vincent’s referral letter to the nurses and they handed over Hasnah’s file to me so I could take down her particulars. I immediately called Hasnah, asked if I could visit her the next day, and she agreed. So the nurses gave me a month’s supply of ARV to be given to Hasnah. SN even gave me some condoms to be passed over to Hasnah. You see, Hasnah got HIV from her first husband who, after 3 kids, left her just like that after he married another woman 13 years ago. Their youngest child then was only a year old. They got divorced but the ex never bothered to pay her any alimony nor did he bother about his 3 children anymore.
2 years ago Hasnah remarried. The husband, despite knowing that Hasnah was HIV+, went on to marry her, and even got her pregnant. Their daughter is now a year old, and the husband, so far, still tested negative for HIV. But he doesn’t have a fixed income – doing odd jobs at the kampong where they stay. Sometimes he gets more, sometimes he gets less, sometimes he gets nothing at all. I suppose this time he hasn’t got enough to enable his wife to come to Ipoh for her appointment.
So this morning off I went to visit Hasnah. Since her kampong is not listed in my Papago GPS, neither could I find it in Google map, I had no choice but to depend on my own internal GPS – Guna Pertimbangan Sendiri. I did still use my Papago GPS though, set to the nearest school. Once I passed the school, I called Hasnah to get further directions to get to her house. She told me to just drive straight in until I got to a row of houses and to call her again once I got there.
I had to drive another 6 or 7 kilometres in before passing the row of houses and then I called her again.
Me: “Akak dah sampai simpang tiga ni.”
Hasnah: “Akak jalan terus lagi.”
Me: “Errrr… terus?? Kalau terus akak masuk parit…”
Hasnah: “Eh, jap, jap! Saya tanya sepupu saya…. ohhhh…. akak belok kanan pastu teruuuuuus je sampai naik bukit, nanti nampak jalan xxx.”
Boy, they sure love to use the word TERUS when giving road directions, don’t they?
That was the only hiccup though. I did manage to find her house. The house looked pretty nice and quite big I must say. One look and you may think she’s not poor. But she is, really.
You see, all the while after her divorce, Hasnah was supported by her mother, who, as a first generation Felda settler, got some fixed monthly income. Hasnah never really had a problem when her mother was around. But her mother unexpectedly passed away early last year at the age of 62. Just before she died, she got the house renovated by getting a loan. After her death, the monthly income from Felda had to be used to repay the loan. There was a small extension at the back of the house, which the mother made specifically for Hasnah, telling the rest of the siblings, who stay elsewhere, that should anything happen to her (the mother), the extension is for Hasnah’s family.
As for the main house, for the moment Hasnah looks after the house, and would move to her own extension unit when her other siblings comes home for Raya or any family gatherings. Hasnah doesn’t have to pay rent, but she still has to pay for utilities. Ever since her mother died, there were already a few times when either their water or electricity supply were about to get cut off. Hasnah really really felt the hardship since slightly more than a year ago. Her eldest brother does give her about RM200 a month, but now with a toddler in the house, that amount is not even enough for the toddler alone.
Her 3 older children are all in secondary school now, one will be sitting for his SPM this year. Hasnah has yet to pay for her eldest son’s necessary fees. I told Hasnah we should have no problem helping out with her children’s educational needs.
I then took out the load of groceries from my car and before I left, I gave her some cash, courtesy of friends who read my FB status update about Hasnah.
“Alhamdulillah, murah rezeki saya hari ni. Terima kasih kak.”
To the donors, the terima kasih is meant for you too.