When our sole volunteer in Taiping alerted me about a girl whose parents died of HIV related illnesses, and who herself had been suffering from various ailments, the volunteer wasn’t sure when I asked if the girl was HIV+ or if she had ever been tested for HIV. The volunteer herself got the news from somebody else. I told her to try get more details, and if possible, to visit the girl.
So she went to visit and amongst the details she got was that the girl had indeed been tested HIV+ and was already regularly going for treatment at the paed’s clinic. Since it was a paed’s case, it was never referred to us as cases in Taiping referred to us were only from the adults clinic. Was told that the girl’s HIV status was known to all and sundry in the kampong as her case was highlighted in a tabloid paper. Guess the reporter was trying to highlight the girl’s sad story and to add more impact to the story, even the girl’s HIV status was disclosed.
What bothered me most was the fact that the girl was no longer schooling. My colleague wasn’t able to give me a clear answer as to why the girl stopped going to school… was it because her HIV status had been known to all… or was it because of her illness? How can we help the girl?
I needed to know more. So I told my colleague to arrange for another visit – this time I myself wanted to join the visit.
Since it was my colleague’s off day from work today, we decided to pay the girl a visit. There was another couple sitting outside chatting with the girl’s grandma when we got there, but since the girl’s status was known to all, I wasn’t too worried about confidentiality. I found out that the couple were relatives anyway, and the grandma even invited us to sit together with the couple. The girl, Nasya, 13, did come out to salam with us. At one glance she looked okay.
I started chatting with the grandma and was told that since the girl seemed to be doing a whole lot better now, they were thinking of sending her back to school beginning next year. Apparently the girl went to school only up to standard 6, sat for her UPSR but after that she had to be hospitalised for whatever ailments and they never even went to get her UPSR results from school. Until now, they don’t know her results.
According to the grandma, Nasya stopped going to school when she was hospitalised and even after she was discharged, she had difficulty walking. She had to go to the hospital quite regularly and at one time even had to be referred to Ipoh GH when her condition worsened. I couldn’t really tell what her ailments were based on my conversation with the grandma, but it probably was somewhat related to some kind of brain infection, which I have seen quite often amongst the HIV cases referred.
The doctor had to change her to a new line of ARV which seemed to work better for her. She seemed a lot better now although not fully recovered. Although at one glance she looked okay, when we observed her walk, she wasn’t really back to normal. And according to the grandma, Nasya tends to forget certain things. And when we asked her to write, she was slow. even when writing her own name. When we asked her to write her address as well, she forgot. And she even had problems reading.
I don’t think it would be a good idea sending her to a normal school. She won’t be able to cope. And she’d probably end up not learning anything. We figured it would probably be better if she goes to Sekolah Pendidikan Khas. The grandma did agree with me but said that since Nasya’s aunt was the one who had been arranging this and that for Nasya, she’d have to discuss the matter with the aunt first. I told the grandma that if they needed help in the registration etc, we are willing to help out.
I understand Nasya will have to be registered as an OKU before she can be accepted into such schools. Maybe we’d also need to discuss the matter with the doctor handling her case before taking the next step.