Yes, it’s that time of the year again! When I went to a hypermarket last week to buy some groceries for my own household needs, I noticed they had just started their back-to-school promotion. Immediately I thought I’d better start off with my yearly shopping for the schooling needs of the children from various families covered either by our Education Sponsorship programme or our Children Education Fund.
Since I needed to visit Sofie this week anyway to deliver some groceries and to get the supporting documents needed to register her son Azman for the culinary school in Ipoh, I figured I might as well start off with her family first. She stays out of Ipoh and I didn’t want to end up having to visit her separately for each purpose.
Fuzi had mentioned to me before that last year because we went quite late nearing the end of the school holidays, there weren’t much choice left for her children. I decided to put her family second on the list for my back-to-school shopping for this year.
On Monday I sent text messages to both Sofie & Fuzi – to inform Sofie that I’d be coming on Wednesday and to inform Fuzi that I’d be coming on Thursday. No questions whatsoever from Sofie but Fuzi called me this morning to ask again when I’d be taking them shopping, although it was clearly stated in the SMS I sent. “Tak awal sangat ke kak?” Duh! She was the one who complained that last year I brought them a wee bit late, now she’s saying it’s too early? I told her the back-to-school sales had already begun and I wanted to settle things early.
Today, after zuhr, I went off to Sofie’s house. I did arrive earlier than promised, and so none of them were ready when I got there. Ika and Saiful were watching TV while Azman was outside somewhere. While the 2 younger kids got ready, I checked all the documents to be submitted to the culinary school for Azman. Thank goodness I checked, he hadn’t even signed the form! Initially Azman wanted to just follow us shopping but just as his siblings got ready, he decided to just stay home. For the moment, while waiting for his PMR results, he works as a helper at a food stall to earn some income.
Only Sofie, Ika & Saiful came with me to a supermarket in town to buy their schooling needs. On the way, Sofie showed me where she usually sets up her stall selling nasi lemak and kuih. Oh yes, she has already started her small business after getting some help under the Welfare Department’s e-Kasih programme. She starts selling at 7am and closes up by 11 or 11.30 am, and gets about RM30 – RM40 a day. Alhamdulillah. That’s a good enough start for someone who 2 years ago was bed-ridden and looked like she was already dying.
Anyway, this time, having to buy schooling needs for only 2 of her children, the bill still came up to almost RM500. Wow, things sure are expensive, aren’t they. I didn’t want to end up buying different stuff in different shops, so everything were bought at the same supermarket, regardless of whether I could get some of the stuff cheaper elsewhere. I didn’t have time for all that. According to Sofie, if she had to buy the things on her own, she’d probably buy poor quality materials at much cheaper prices, although they don’t usually last long. And usually she’d buy one thing at a time – depending on how much she has in her hands.
Tomorrow I will be fetching Fuzi and her children for their back-to-school shopping. This time around, Iwan, her youngest, will get some stuff for himself as well since he will finally be going to a kindergarten next year. Usually he’d just watch his siblings choose their schooling needs, this time he’d get to choose at least a pair of shoes and a school bag for himself. I bet right now he must be really excited…