I spent the whole day Monday at the Dewan Komuniti Taman Meru for the Kempen Kesedaran Pencegahan Penderaan Kanak-kanak & Keganasan Rumahtangga organised by the State Health Department. Other than inviting us to set up a booth, the organisers also sent us a letter asking us to send a few participants to the seminar. I told them that since it was a working day, it was either the booth or the seminar participants for us, not both. Most of our volunteers work in the private sector, so in order for them to attend, they’d need to take leave.
So yes, we opted for the booth. The booth was after all, inside the hall, and so while manning the booth, I could listen to the talks by the various speakers as well.
Another volunteer promised to join me early morning to help me set up the booth. She didn’t turn up, so I was all alone setting up the Buddies booth. The volunteer only turned up at 12.30 pm, long after the guest-of-honour left. Another volunteer who promised to help out later during the day, never turned up at all. Sigh! Oh well, you get that sometimes when you do voluntary work.
Since I was all alone at the booth when the guest-of-honour, Dato Dr Mah Hang Soon, went round, I sought the help of one of the volunteers at the neighbouring booth to help snap a few pics when the YB stopped at the Buddies booth.
With 9 speakers talking on various topics – this brain of mine had to absorb so much the whole day. Luckily we had good speakers, so it wasn’t too bad. The downside however was that it was rather… ermm no, it was VERY warm in the hall. This time I was not willing to wear the Buddies vest, except for a short while when Dato Dr Mah went round the booths.
Today being the last Tuesday of October, I was on clinic duty in Taiping. Earlier on Sunday, Sofie called me seeking my help. She said someone from KPW’s e-kasih programme called her up asking her to attend a course at a hotel in Ipoh starting Tuesday (today) but she didn’t know where the hotel was. She asked if I could help send her. I told her I needed to go to Taiping, but when I found out that she had to report before 9 am while I usually only make a move to Taiping at about the same time, I agreed to help her out provided she arrived in Ipoh a bit early. The only problem was, she didn’t get the letter from the organisers, just a phone call, and so the name of the hotel was based on what she heard, or what she thought she heard. She told me it would be at “Hell City”.
Huh? Hell city?! Where the hell is that?!! After a while I managed to figure it out. She must have meant Hillcity Hotel. Duh!
So yes, this morning I went to fetch her at the bus station and sent her to Hillcity Hotel. The moment we got to the hotel I saw a large banner welcoming participants to a Kursus Kemahiran organised by the KPW so I immediately knew I brought Sofie to the right place.
After sending Sofie to the hotel, I stopped by our center for a while to unload the exhibition materials from my car. We finished quite late of Monday and I wanted to rush home for my asar prayer and so when I went home all the materials were still in my car. I didn’t want to bring them all the way to Taiping, and since I was still rather early, there was ample time for me to leave all the stuff at the center before making a move to Taiping for my clinic duty.
My colleague in Taiping was already waiting in the praying room aka our makeshift counselling room when I got there. She had to report for duty at 10 am and was only there to report to me on the status of a 13 year old HIV+ girl who was referred to her by somebody else due to the family’s poor condition. The girl goes to the Taiping paed’s clinic and so the case was never referred to us earlier. The girl’s parents both died of HIV related illnesses and so she and her younger sibling now stay with their grandma. The younger sibling however had been spared from the virus. My guess is when the mother was pregnant with the second child, her HIV was detected and so precautions were taken to avoid transmission to the child.
Anyway, apparently everyone in the neighbourhood and in her school seem to know about this girl’s HIV status, thanks to a newspaper, under the pretext of highlighting her sad story, even published the fact that the girl’s HIV+. The girl has stopped going to school for the past few months. I asked my colleague to arrange for a suitable day for us to go and visit the girl at home. I think I need to speak to the girl myself before I can decide what kind of help we can give her.
My colleague had already gone off by the time the nurse came in to refer one case to us. A young lady then walked in. Unlike in Ipoh hospital where the nurse would usually give me a brief background of the case before referring the patient to us, in Taiping the nurse simply got the patients to go see me in the room without even giving any details except for the name.
This young lady, Nor, found out about her HIV during her pregnancy test. I asked where her husband was; she smiled sheepishly and said, “Tak ada.” I immediately knew this was another unwed pregnancy case. But unlike the other unwed pregnancy cases that I’ve handled so far, this one seems to have the least problem. I don’t have to worry about finding a shelter home for her as her parents do accept her at home despite knowing of her unwed pregnancy and HIV. I asked if her parents did attempt to get her “partner-in-crime” to marry her, but according to Nor, her parents dislike the guy. And when asked if the guy had gone for testing, Nor said she did call him to ask him to go for testing, but he refused. In fact he got mad when the hospital people called him up (number given by Nor) to ask him to go for testing. Ah well…
The next case referred to me was a guy. Not a new case actually, but he was still referred to me as he needed financial help, particularly for his schooling children. He is working but now that he is already on his second line of HAART, he needs to buy one of the antiretroviral drugs. Although the cost is subsidised, he still needs to fork out RM200 a month to pay for it. I told him we can’t help him out with the cost of the drugs, but we can help out with his children’s education.
One more case was referred to me after that. A new case referred to Taiping Hospital, but not someone newly diagnosed. He had been diagnosed HIV+ a few years ago in another state where he was working, but after going for appointments a few times, he gave up. In fact, he admitted that at one time he almost wanted to just end his life, but according to him, somehow, “Saya ingat Tuhan tolong sama saya la.” He moved back to his hometown to stay with this mother, and now no longer has the urge to end his life.
All cases were referred to me quite early this time, so by the time I finished seeing the 3rd case, it wasn’t even 12 pm yet. I even had enough time to get home in time for lunch!