THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 in pictures

2011 had been quite an eventful year for me – in my voluntary work, in my personal life and also in activities with my school alumni friends.

In my voluntary work with Buddies, after re-elected as the chairperson in March, it was activities after activities other than the regular clinic duties and visits to my clients’ homes.

There were the exhibitions…

Men Against Violence campaign in Chenderong in April

buddy april

Talk & exhibition in Royal College of Medicine Perak, also in April

buddy april2

At Kg Ulu Geroh (Orang Asli village) in October

buddy oct

And in Taman Meru also in October

buddy oct3

Then there was the charity run in May where I ended up injuring my knee, but still managed to personally collect a total of RM4,700.

buddy may

We had our Family Day in July at The Roots, Tg Rambutan

7-2

I attended the National AIDS Conference in Penang in October

buddy oct2

and then we had a briefing for my fellow volunteers in November on the latest in the world of HIV

buddy nov

And finally, our annual dinner in December at Assam House Restaurant, Medan Gopeng.

dinner

On the personal side, involving family matters, there were a few downside, like the “atap terbang” incident at home during a storm in March (thank God nobody got hurt)

P storm march

And in May the shocking news of my cousin’s 11 year old son who perished in the landslide at the orphanage in Hulu Langat.

P ulu langat may

Of course, there were happy moments as well, like my niece’s wedding in March

p wedding march

and my nephew’s engagement in June.

p engagement june

Not forgetting, my RM0 airfare trip to Ho Chi Minh City in February with my sister and my niece.

p vietnam feb

And of course, there were activities involving my school alumni members, whether official activities, or just unofficial activities with friends.

Playing hockey with the under-50 team against the school under-15 team… :-)

hockey may

Chairing the committee elections during the OGA AGM in July

oga agm july

And the unofficial Jalan-jalan Cari Penat activities with felllow adventure loving friends…

Spelunking in Gua Tempurung in July

gua tempurung july

Enjoying outdoor adventures in Belum-Temenggor in September…

the boat rides

oga belum2 sept

trekking up the lookout tower 4,011 feet above sea level

oga belum3 sept

trekking to the Rafflesia site

oga belum4 sept

enjoying the cool waterfall

oga belum1 sept

visiting an Orang Asli village

oga belum5 sept

kayakking around the island

oga belum6 sept

Then later in November, we went for the canopy walk at FRIM…

frim2 nov

frim1 nov

Many more activities lined up for 2012 insyaAllah, involving Buddies, family and school friends…

 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The children…

Done with my back-to-school shopping, I had to update the sponsorship account and prepare the individual statements for all the sponsored children. After that I needed to send the statements to the various sponsors so I could ask them to remit, if they agree to, the sponsorship amount for 2012. However, there were a few sponsors who didn’t bother to wait for me to send the statements, they simply banked in the amount into our bank account.

With 4 of the 32 sponsored children completing their SPM/SPVM in 2011, there should be 28 left to continue under the sponsorship programme. Another one, a 14 year old HIV+ girl, orphaned since baby and had been staying with her maternal grandma all the while, had ran off to stay with her paternal grandparents. So we have to discontinue sponsorship for her as we are not in touch with her paternal grandparents. That leaves 27.

Azman, Sofie’s son decided to stop schooling after his PMR so he could work, but seeing that his interest lies in cooking, I managed to coax him to join a culinary school. So he’s out of the sponsorship programme as well, leaving 26.

The 26 almost became 25 as I was not able to get in touch with an Orang Asli client of mine. My calls didn’t get through, and my text messages were never replied either. Visit her at home? I’d need a 4WD to be able to reach her house.

However, during my clinic duty today, as I was about to go over to the doctor’s room, I heard someone shouting, “Kak Ros! Kak Ros!” Definitely not calling me, or so I thought, but I turned anyway to see who it was because the lady’s voice sounded so familiar. Indeed it was. The lady who was calling for Kak Ros was Wan, the Orang Asli lady whose son is under our sponsorship programme. And the person she called Kak Ros was…. ME!!! Erk? I certainly wasn’t aware of any attempts to change my name to Kak Ros…

Akak! Lama tak cakap dengan akak, rindu! Nombor saya dah tukar kak! Nah Kak Ros ambil nombor baru saya.”

Nama akak bukan Ros lah, nama akak Afizah.”

Oh ye ke? Hihihihi…”

She had never called me by name before, usually she just calls me akak. Probably all the while she thought my name was Ros although I can’t for the life of me figure out where she got that name from. Like someone mentioned on my FB wall, maybe she had been watching too much of Upin & Ipin (there’s a garang Kak Ros in that story). Wan’s son got 4B and 1C for his recent UPSR and will be going to a secondary school for Orang Asli children.

Other than the sponsored children, many other children of our clients are covered under our Children Education Fund (CEF). For CEF, we only cover for their back-to-school expenses and if needed, their monthly bus fares. We don’t cover for pocket money and tuition. Thank goodness we managed to get more funds for CEF this year, since many more children from poor families needed schooling help.

While I’m done with the children’s back-to-school shopping, my next task now is to list down the children needing bus fares, and also the sponsored children’s monthly pocket money and other expenses. It will be much easier if the money is transferred via monthly standing instructions to the various clients’ bank accounts so that I don’t have to worry about doing it manually every month. That way, I don’t have to worry about being late either.

Once I settle all these, I should be able to go back to my normal routine…

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Of shopping & home visit…

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…

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Back-to-school shopping : Round 5 (3 in 1)

Done with back-to-school shopping for 21 kids, yesterday I decided to get 3 families from northern Perak to gather at a supermarket in Taiping – 11 children altogether from the 3 families… Ashraf’s 3 children, Rahimi’s 4 children and Maya’s 4 children. Interestingly, out of the 11 children, there was only one boy, Ashraf’s youngest 10 year old (who looked more like a 7 or 8 year old child because of his size). Ashraf & Rahimi themselves didn’t come, Ashraf had to work while Rahimi, when I called last week, was hospitalised. So their wives came with the children. I had never met them before though, so I just told them to meet me near the escalator at the main entrance of the shopping complex and I made sure I had their numbers saved in my handphone.

Immediately after my zuhr prayer, off I headed to Taiping. Managed to get to the shopping complex within an hour, and just as I got to the main entrance I saw Maya and her 4 girls. We still had to wait for the other 2 families. I then decided to call Samsiah, Rahimi’s wife. She said she was on the way. Next, Ashraf’s wife, Siti. Just as I was looking for her phone number, she called! “Akak yang pakai baju warna kelabu tu ye? Saya kat atas ni!” I looked up to the first floor and saw a lady waving. Okay, so 2 families already there. I just sent a text message to Samsiah, telling her that I’d be waiting at the first floor near the trolleys.

Samsiah finally got there 10 minutes late. I thought she came by bus, but apparently she and her children came by car, a relative of hers helped to send them there. It was only then I found out that Rahimi had passed away the week before, 2 days after I called to arrange for the children’s back-to-school shopping.

Anyway, we started shopping at 3.10 pm. I just told the mothers what they were entitled to and then I just let them choose the schooling stuff for their children. Siti only had to help out her son with the uniforms etc. Her 2 older girls were big enough to choose on their own without their mother’s help. Maya’s children didn’t have to choose any uniforms as their mother had already sewn their uniforms herself. She only claimed the amount she paid for the materials.

A few of the children were quite choosy, complaining about the materials… kasar sangatlicin sangat… etc. According to Siti, usually she’d have to bring them to a few different places to get the stuff that they really wanted. And in addition to that, they couldn’t afford to buy everything at one go, so usually they’d buy their schooling stuff in stages.

But yesterday, they didn’t have the chance to go elsewhere to choose their stuff, just pick whatever was available there. Not if they wanted me to pay anyway. Siti got worried when each bill came up to over RM500, except Maya’s because she didn’t have to buy uniforms. She was afraid that her children may have spent over the budget. I told her not to worry as it was still within the budget of RM200 – RM250 per child.

With the mothers using the “cepat sikit pilih, kesian makcik tunggu lama” excuse, we managed to complete yesterday’s shopping spree at 4.35 pm – that’s less than 2 hours. I had enough time to get back to Ipoh for my asar prayer!

3 more girls for another round of back-to-school shopping this Friday!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Back-to-school shopping : Round 4 (5 in 1)

As mentioned in my previous posting, I had arranged for 12 children from 5 families staying within the same district to meet up with me at a particular supermarket at 10 am today to shop for the children’s schooling needs. So after withdrawing some cash this morning, off I headed to the supermarket. I got there 10 minutes before 10 am… didn’t see any familiar faces at that time so I remained in the car for a few minutes.

Closing in to 10 am, I got out of my car and waited outside the main entrance. The first 2 families to come were Rin’s and Mrs K’s… they came together – Rin with 2 primary school children (1 boy & 1 girl) and Mrs K’s 3 girls – one going to be in form 5, one standard 4 and the youngest going to kindergarten. Seeing that I was already there, and thinking she was late, Rin immediately hugged me… “Orang dah buat salah ni, kena mintak ampun siap-siap.” Actually she was punctual, I was the one who was early.

Immediately after that I saw Nuri and her 2 girls – forms 5 and 2. However the younger girl, who is also HIV+, despite already going into form 2, is so small you could easily mistake her for a primary school girl. Like last year, her secondary school sarong couldn’t be bought at the supermarket. Her mother would have to sew for her.

Seeing that Lin and Imran weren’t there yet, I told the 3 ladies to grab their own trolleys, go in first and choose the schooling needs for their children; and get back to me if they had anything to ask or if they were ready to check out. I then sent text messages to Lin and Imran telling them I was already at the supermarket, then I went in to join the 3 ladies.

Lin got there a few minutes later. After 20 minutes, seeing that Imran was not there yet, I gave Imran a call. After a few rings, he answered… he just walked in the main entrance to the supermarket, together with his wife and 3 children. Finally I got to meet his wife. I did say I’d visit them at home but simply couldn’t find the time to visit them yet.

So yeah, I just let the mothers help out the children in picking their schooling needs. Not much problem, except Mrs K’s little girl (yes, Baby K’s already going to kindergarten next year) who was sulking because she didn’t get to choose anything for herself yet (she only needed shoes and bag but during the earlier part of the shopping Mrs K was concentrating on getting the uniforms for her 2 other girls). And when the time came to buy her a pair of school shoes, she insisted on putting the shoe box that she had grabbed into the trolley without even trying out the size first. Of course Mrs K used the usual scare-the-kids tactic of “Nanti makcik fizah marah mak tak tau…”

Anyway, the first family ready to check out was Nuri’s. Even after I finished paying for her children at the counter, the other families weren’t ready yet. I then accompanied Nuri to my car. I had some reference books for SPM, PMR and UPSR which I managed to collect from friends late last month when I went for the Canopy Walk at FRIM. Nuri’s form 5 daughter gladly chose the SPM reference books for herself. She had wanted to ask her mother to buy some reference books, not knowing that I had brought along some with me.

Done with that, I went back in. The other families didn’t know that I went out to pass some books to Nuri’s daughter… I wonder what they’d do if they found the tukang bayar missing… hehehe…

The other 4 families got all their stuff almost immediately after one another. So there at the cashier for the back-to-school section, were 4 trolleys full of stuff queuing up, separate receipts for each trolley, but with the same person paying for everything. The cashier must be wondering who this Makcik Kaya was… taking out cash from her bag each time paying between RM320 to RM500 for each family. First in the queue was Mrs K, followed by Rin, then Imran and finally Lin. It was Lin’s daughter who told me that once everything was paid, just bring the receipt to the free gift counter to collect some free gifts. There were free gifts for purchases of minimum RM50 in a single receipt. All the receipts were definitely more than that!

So yep, after paying for all of them, we went to the free gift counter, got a 2012 calendar for each receipt (total 5 calendars) and depending on how much was spent on school shoes for each receipt, there were also water containers as free gift. Since Nuri had gone back by then, I took the calendar for her receipt while the 2 water containers from that receipt were handed over to Imran’s wife for her children.

I then told them about the books in my car. Lin’s daughter took the PMR books while the UPSR books went to Ali’s daughter.

As I was leaving the place, I took a look at my watch… it was 12.02 pm. Hmmmm…. not bad… I managed to complete today’s mission in 2 hours.

A few more families to cover. To be continued next week…

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Cerita-ceriti sana-sini…

Lin sent me a text message on Sunday asking if her children would still be getting any assistance for their schooling needs. Last 2 years I took her 2 younger children out shopping but I had been quite busy this year with so many additions to the list of children needing schooling assistance, it had been some time since I last contacted Lin.

Knowing that I may not have the time to bring all the families out separately as I usually did in previous years, I figured this year I’d try something I had never done before – get a few families to shop together at the same place at the same time, especially those from out of Ipoh.

So I decided on a supermarket in a town easily accessible to a few families within the same district and sent out text messages to Nuri, Rin, Mrs K and Lin. They all agreed to bring their children and meet me at the supermarket on Thursday at 10 am.

Then last night, I received a text message from Imran, asking me how to get help for his children’s schooling. I’ve met Imran before at the hospital but I’ve already assigned him to another volunteer. He had already bought his children’s uniforms using the RM100 per child received from the government, but there were so many things they still needed and his small business had not been doing too well of late, mainly because of his poor health. In fact, he had not been paying his rental for the past 3 months.

Since Imran stays in the same district as the other clients I’m taking for their back-to-school shopping on Thursday, I told Imran to bring his children to the same place at the same time.

So yep, on Thursday I’ll be doing some back-to-school shopping for 12 children from 5 families. God help me please…

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On Monday I received a call from an unfamiliar number. It was actually from a public phone. And the caller was Jah’s husband (yeah, the same guy I mentioned in my blog posting on 5th December). He told me Jah had delivered their baby, not in Ipoh but in Teluk Intan. I was quite surprised really, I didn’t even know until last week that Jah was pregnant, and suddenly this week she had already delivered. And in Teluk Intan? Jah usually comes for her appointments in Ipoh (she stays in another town, neither Ipoh nor Teluk Intan) and so I was wondering why they sent her to this other hospital. “Yang jumpa doctor untuk sakit satu lagi tu pun dah tukar Teluk Intan ke?” I asked. I assumed the husband would know about her appointments in Ipoh. “Sakit satu lagi? Apa benda?” he asked. Alamak, I didn’t dare say anything further. The line got cut off anyway as Jah’s hubby ran out of coins for the public phone. But later at night he sent me a text message to say that Jah had delivered a baby boy.

I was on clinic duty this morning and so I decided to ask SN about Jah. SN knew Jah was pregnant but was surprised herself when I told her that Jah had already delivered in Teluk Intan. According to SN, when Jah went for her pregnancy test at the district hospital in the town where she stays, they referred her to Teluk Intan instead of Ipoh. But she still comes to Ipoh for her appointment at the ID clinic. It would have been much easier for the departments (O&G and ID clinic) to liaise with each other if Jah went to the same hospital instead of 2 different hospitals.

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Reading the status updates of a few friends on FB about their children getting offers to fully residential schools, I decided to check on Maya’s daughter. Maya told me that they had received the SMS from MOE informing her that her daughter got a place in a residential school in Perak but they’d have to go online to accept the offer first. They don’t have internet access at home, so getting online meant having to go to a cyber cafe or a friend’s house with internet access. Since I was already online when I called Maya, I offered to do so for them and asked her to SMS me her daughter’s UPSR index number which is required when we check the offer status online.

Maya immediately sent me her daughter’s index number and IC number as well. I guess she wasn’t too confident when I told her I only needed the index number. I immediately went to the MOE website and accepted the offer on their behalf. Now they’d need to wait for the official letter from the ministry.

Am so happy that finally one of “my children” gets offered to go to a fully residential school. I hope the new school will provide a better environment for her to excel in her studies. All the best to you girl! Don’t you worry about your schooling expenses… you’re still under our education sponsorship programme.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Back-to-school shopping : Round 3

When I called Aini last week to ask her when I could take her children for their back-school-shopping, I was told the boys followed their uncle to KL and would only be back over the weekend. And since her appointment at the hospital was on Tuesday, I told her I’d fetch her and her kids on Wednesday afternoon.

Today after my lunch and prayer, off I went to fetch them. This time, only 2 out of Aini’s 3 kids came along. Her eldest daughter was home when I went to fetch them today, but this time she didn’t follow us as she has one more SPVM paper to sit for tomorrow.

So it was just me, Aini and her 2 boys. The boys, going into forms 1 and 3 respectively, were rather shy. Unlike the other kids who’d grab the opportunity to get themselves everything new, these 2 boys would only take the things they felt they really needed. From the 3 families I’ve taken shopping so far, these 2 took the least stationeries. As a matter of fact, according to Aini, the older boy asked her earlier, “Apasal makcik Afizah pulak yang tolong belikan barang sekolah? Seganlah mak…” Aini just told him that we’re an NGO helping out single mothers.

NGO for single mothers? You see, none of Aini’s family members know that Aini and her late husband were HIV+. Her children knows she has health problems, but since Aini has various ailments including kidney problems, they never question her. And since I know the children aren’t aware of their mother’s HIV status, I never mention the word when they are around. Aini would still tell me about her appointments at the hospital etc, but without ever mentioning HIV or AIDS.

The family now survives on welfare aid of RM300 a month. Previously, Aini used to babysit a neighbour’s child and got paid RM200 per month, but according to her, the child’s mother had quit her job and no longer sends the child to Aini. So, RM200 less income for Aini now. She still needs all the help she can get.

Her eldest daughter plans to get a temporary job after her SPVM. I asked Aini if her daughter had any courses in particular she’s interested to pursue once results are out. I was told she’s very much interested in tourism management.

So I got home and surfed the net to find out more about the available courses and colleges. Hmmm…. there’s one in Ipoh which offers the course as well. I just hope she will at least get the minimum required results to take up the course.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Jangan over la brader…

Remember Jah? Despite what she had to go through in her life before (she lost her 1st husband and son within just months – and to add to that after her husband’s death she also found out she had HIV), Jah had always been the happy-go-lucky type of person; always the live-wire in any of our activities, particularly our annual Family Day.

That was until she remarried. Jah did talk to me about her boyfriend then (who was free from HIV) and my question to her had always been whether the boyfriend knew she was HIV positive. Apparently he knew, yet he still wanted to marry her. Jah was of course excited.

Ok then, it was their choice, nobody could stop them. So yes, they got married. And ever since then, I had never been able to contact Jah by phone. She no longer lived with her mother, whose house I used to visit, but went to stay with her husband at her mother-in-law’s house. We were no longer able to call her to join us for our Family Day. The only time I got to speak to her was when I’d bump into her at the hospital during her appointments which coincidentally happened to be on the same day as my clinic duty.

The last time I saw Jah was some time in April this year. She was waiting for her turn to see the doctor. I did ask for her latest phone number, but she told me she didn’t have any. So I informed her about all our planned activities and gave her my number so that she could call me if she was interested to join any of the activities. She seemed very interested but told me she’d need to go home and seek her husband’s permission first. Jah also asked for Shila’s phone number. Shila used to be her best friend before Jah remarried. But even Shila complained about Jah no longer keeping in touch with her. Shila in fact, didn’t even know Jah got married until I told her about it.

Despite taking down our phone numbers, Jah never did call me or Shila.

When I met Shila after this year’s Family Day in The Roots, Tg Rambutan, she did mention to me about Jah’s husband who kept sending her text messages, wanting to befriend her, telling her he wanted to marry her etc. Urggh, this guy must be sick! Whenever I met Jah after her marriage, the only person she’d be complaining about would be her mother-in-law who didn’t seem to like her, but Jah always had praises for her husband whom to her was “a very loving husband”. Of course, she didn’t know that the loving husband she had, had been trying to tackle her own best friend.

According to Shila, she did tell him off, but from time to time, he’d still try to contact her. I’m not too sure if he knew about Shila’s death just before Ramadhan this year; I had never been able to inform Jah about it as I didn’t know how to. Maybe her husband did find out – who knows, maybe he did send his SMS to Shila’s phone number which is now held by her mother/sister. Maybe the mother/sister replied the message telling him that Shila had passed on. I don’t know for sure.

Anyway, today out of the blue a text message came in on my handphone from an unfamiliar number:

"Askm akak Afizah sy nak betaya ni masa sy nati nk buat sorat beranak anak sy nak macm mana cara ya n ape dokte mita n berape bayaran kus buat sorat beranak n berape kus pebayaran kuluar dari hopita iteri sy nati n akak sy tak pernah melalui macm ni lg akak tolong lg bg tahu"

I had to reread the message to comprehend what the sender was trying to say. Whoever sent that message was actually asking me how to register for his child’s birth cert when the time comes, what would the doctor be asking for, how much would be the cost to get the birth cert, and what would be the costs when the wife gets discharged from the hospital.

The first thing I was trying to figure out was… who the hell was the sender of the message? A husband of someone who’d soon be giving birth… but I simply couldn’t recall any of clients being pregnant. So I replied the message to ask, “Siapa ni?”

It was only after that did he explain he was Jah’s husband. Well, I did reply his earlier queries. Then came his reply, thanking me for the info and asking “boleh ke sy nak mejadi adik akad akak itu pun kut akak sudi” (based on the spellings he had been using in his messages, he probably meant adik angkat, but the irony of it… adik AKAD??)

Allo brader! Jangan la over!!

I decided not to reply his last message. I remembered Shila telling him off and it didn’t stop him from contacting her. For the moment I think I’ll just use the “no response” tactic first. If he sends me another message, even to seek help for his wife, I’ll tell him to get his wife to contact me direct. After all, I’m his wife’s buddy, not his!

But right now what I need to do is to check with SN about Jah. I never heard about her being pregnant. SN or the other nurses at the HIV clinic never mentioned anything about it to me either. If Jah really is pregnant, those at the HIV clinic need to know so they can take necessary precautions to avoid transmission of HIV to the child…

Friday, 2 December 2011

Back-to-school shopping : Round 2

Done shopping with Sofie’s children on Wednesday, yesterday I went to fetch Fuzi and her children. I promised to fetch them at home around 2.30 pm. Got there right on time, and as always, they were ready waiting in front of their house, doors already locked, all set to go. Iwan, the youngest, got to sit in front with his mom, while his other 4 siblings had to squeeze themselves at the back in my Kenari.

This time Iwan was more excited than usual. Usually the only excitement he got during the back-to-school shopping was the ride in the car, the running around he got to do at the hypermarket, and the makan-makan I’d treat them to after shopping. This time, he’d get to choose some schooling stuff for himself as he’d be going to a kindergarten next year.

When we got to the hypermarket, I immediately brought them direct to the back-to-school promotion section. Found myself a bench and sat there while Fuzi & her kids chose whatever needed. Her 2 older girls were able to choose for themselves but her boys needed assistance. Fuzi wasn’t able to cope with all 3 boys depending on her to choose the right sizes and all, so finally I decided to get up and help as well.

It wasn’t too bad when choosing the uniforms, and not that bad either when it came to shoes as well, but when it came to choosing school bags, Iwan the little boy kept choosing the hyper-expensive ones, even the ones over RM100! And he’s only going to a kindergarten!! Had to give him a firm no and I finally ended up choosing a much cheaper school bag for him, with his siblings helping me out by saying how good he looked with the bag I chose… ;)

With all the things chucked into the trolley, passers-by kept looking at our full to the brim trolley. This pic here was taken BEFORE we finished shopping…

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When we reached the cashier, one of the staff asked if I’d like to pay half first, so they could give us the back-to-school vouchers, then I could use the vouchers to get a little price cut for the other half. Told her that was not necessary as I could still use the vouchers when I bring some other kids shopping for their schooling needs.

Oh, anak yatim ya?” she asked. “Kalau macam tu takpelah. Saya ingat sekali ni aje, rugi la kalau tak guna voucher tu nanti.”

Anyway, I told the girls to help with the packing at the cashier. They simply chucked the things into the plastic bags. Fuzi told them to pack properly, but Wina replied, “Ala, nanti makcik hantar sampai depan rumah kan?” I told her I’d only be sending them to the bus stop. She just smiled, knowing pretty well I was only kidding.

By the time the cashier finished keying in the codes for all the stuff, the receipt came up to 33.7 inches long (yes, I got home and actually measured!). And the total amount spent? RM1,284.90. I had to swipe my card…

The good news is, Fuzi is the only client with 5 schooling children. The rest have 4 or less, so the receipts shouldn’t be that long in my other shopping sprees…