When I contacted Laila’s aunt during the school holidays to ask if I could bring Laila out to buy her schooling needs, I was told that Laila was at her paternal grandparents home in another state. The aunt then informed me that they would buy/pay first Laila’s schooling necessities, just like Laila’s mother, Shila, did when she was alive. I decided to wait until school reopened before contacting them again to get the full list of payments.
Yesterday being the second day of this year’s schooling, I went to visit the family. I had informed the aunt the day before via text message informing her about my visit, and telling her to prepare the list of Laila’s schooling expenses. Knowing that Laila goes to school in the morning, I decided to visit in the afternoon, so I could meet Laila personally and see for myself how the girl is coping ever since her mother’s death just before the last Ramadhan.
When I got to their house, Laila’s aunt greeted me and invited me in. She’s the one who had been replying all my text messages, but whenever I visit, she’d let Laila’s grandma do all the talking. So yes, the moment I got in, she called her mother, Laila’s grandma. Alhamdulillah, the grandma looked healthy, still selling kuih in the mornings to earn some extra income for the family.
I didn’t see Laila at first. According to the grandma, Laila went out for a while as she needed to photocopy some school related stuff. But she didn’t take too long. After a few minutes, she walked in. Still the small-framed girl (you wouldn’t think she’ll be sitting for her UPSR this year), and still smiling as sweetly as she had always been doing whenever I visited, just like when her mother was still alive.
Laila had spent almost a month at her paternal grandparent’s house. Some of her schooling stuff, like uniforms & shoes, had been bought by her paternal grandma. Financially, the paternal family are better off (although they aren’t that rich either), and they did offer to take care of Laila when Shila passed away last July, but Laila had been brought up at her maternal grandma’s house all her life. Having to cope with her mother’s death is one thing, having to cope at a new place altogether would be even tougher. Laila was the one who insisted she wanted to stay with her maternal family.
With her uniforms and shoes already paid by her paternal grandma, the amount I had to reimburse the family yesterday wasn’t as much as the other children under sponsorship. I did inform them last year that Laila’s sponsorship would also cover her tuition if they decided to send her for tuition, so yes, right on the first day of school, they had already arranged tuition for 3 subjects for Laila – English, Maths and Science. I was actually expecting that the cost would come up to a total of at least RM100, but was told that the monthly fee is RM15, plus another RM10 for each subject. That’s a total of RM45 per month for all three subjects. Whoa, that’s pretty cheap! There shouldn’t be a problem at all for the amount to be covered under the sponsorship fund.
It was good to see Laila coping well with life without her mother. I do hope she’ll be able to improve on her studies…