After 5 rounds of back-to-school shopping covering 32 children, yesterday I brought 2 more children from 2 families – Rosnah’s daughter and Zainab’s 2 girls… hopefully that would be the last for this year. A few other families agreed to buy first and I’d reimburse them later. The only one family I’m not too sure yet if I need to bring them shopping is Hasnah’s. She did mention earlier that she may be coming to Ipoh at the end of the month and I told her to bring her children along so we could go buy their schooling needs. So far she hasn’t called me yet to confirm if indeed she’s coming. Otherwise I may need to call her within the next few days.
On my way home after yesterday’s shopping spree, I decided to call Sofie to find out if she had managed to get the school leaving cert for her son Azman. Since Azman is applying for a course at a culinary school, and he is only going to turn 16 next year, the school leaving cert is required to enable him to apply for the Tabung Pendidikan Kemahiran. I was told that we needed to settle things soon if we wanted to make sure Azman gets a place at the school since places are limited. According to Sofie, the teacher told her to come and get the proper leaving cert on 4th Jan when school reopens, but for the moment she has a copy of the notification indicating that she had already submitted the letter regarding the matter.
I figured I’d better just get a copy of that letter to be submitted to the culinary school, hopefully they will accept that for the time being before getting the proper school leaving cert later. I was told to pay the registration fee as soon as possible to guarantee Azman of a place.
So this afternoon, off I went to visit Sofie. And since it is almost the end of the month, I stopped by a grocery shop first to get supplies of groceries for Sofie’s family using the funds that I’ve been getting regularly from friends meant for the poor families under my care. When I got to their home, Azman, excited about getting into the culinary school, was the first to come out and greet me… and helped to unload the groceries from my car. I took the opportunity to remind him again not to waste the opportunity given to him. For the moment I don’t see any problems with Azman, despite being a bit cheeky, he is quite a responsible boy and respects people, especially elders.
Sofie’s problem now is her eldest son, Azlan who had completed his SPM. He now works part time at a small factory but what Sofie can’t stand is the fact that Azlan always goes out at night with girls and comes home very late, after midnight. I have to admit, Azlan is quite good looking, and so although he doesn’t have much money, girls do like him. The particular girl who he has been going out with, according to Sofie, has money and so she’s the one paying whenever they go out anywhere at night.
Sofie has been nagging to him, to no avail. Azlan doesn’t listen to his mother. Sofie was hoping I could talk to Azlan, but every time I visit, he’s never around. According to Sofie, Azlan seems to become more and more like his father, who was known as quite a cassanova during his prime. I do hope Azlan will come to his senses soon. Hopefully after his SPM results are out, we’d be able to arrange for him to take up an automotive course somewhere (other than girls, his interest lies in automotive stuff, that we know) and hopefully he’d be kept busy when pursuing the course.
There was an additional character in Sofie’s house today. I didn’t realise there was somebody else at home until Sofie told me about the boy. Nizam, now 18, has skin disease all over his body, according to him since young. His parents didn’t really care about him and couldn’t be bothered to bring him to get regular treatments. Nizam only went to school up to form 2 – always getting teased and bullied because of the condition of his skin. A month ago, due to whatever problems at home, his mother ran away, taking whatever documents with her, including Nizam’s identity card. Nizam’s other family members are not bothered at all about Nizam’s wellbeing.
He had been trying to get a job which doesn’t require academic qualification to support himself, but to no avail. Azman, who can easily get jobs working at food stalls etc, tried to recommend Nizam, but the moment the potential employers saw his skin condition, nobody wanted to take him in.
So guess what? Sofie took pity on him and allowed him to stay at her rented house, together with her 4 children.
“Saya nak tanggung bagi dia duit, saya tak mampu kak, tapi sekadar nak kongsi makan apa yang kami makan, takde masalah,” Sofie said to me.
Sofie asked if I could find a way to help Nizam, especially in getting him an appointment with a skin specialist. Apparently a few months back, Azman took him to a clinic, and the doctor at the clinic gave him a referral letter for him to go to Ipoh GH to see a specialist. But Nizam has no money to go to Ipoh, and Sofie couldn’t afford to help him out either.
All the while when Sofie told me Nizam’s story, Nizam just stayed in the room, too shy to come out. Sofie then called him and asked him to come out and meet me. It took quite a while before Nizam finally came out, wearing a long sleeved t-shirt to cover his arms. Well, I could still see the skin problems on his hands and his face.
I told him to get his identity card done first. Since his IC was with his mother and nobody seemed to know where his mother is now, I told him to report his IC as lost and to go make a new one. I’d try to help out with the fine involved, as I know he won’t be able to pay. Sofie doesn’t mind paying if it’s only RM10, but not if it’s more than that.
With the referral letter to take him to the hospital already available, I wouldn’t have to go out of my way to get an appointment for him. But surely they’d need him to produce his IC when I bring him to the hospital. So yes, might as well get his IC problem settled first. At least a temporary IC.
Whatever it is, I am proud of Sofie. Despite not really getting enough to make ends meet each month, she was still willing to feed another mouth at her home…