I wasn’t on clinic duty last Wednesday. 2 other volunteers were on duty that day but the staff nurse still called me in the afternoon to inform me of a case which the doctor personally wanted me to follow up with. The lady the doc wanted to refer to me, goes for her appointments at a hospital in another town, and so we Buddies had not met her even though she had been seeing the doctor there since 2004. The same doctor sees HIV patients at that hospital too, and so, although we Buddies have not met this lady, she has been seeing the same doctor for some time already.
I must commend this good doctor. Despite her busy schedule, she still makes it a point to find out if her patients have problems. And knowing that we Buddies do have our own Children Education Fund, the moment she found at this lady, an HIV+ single mom with 4 kids, had not been getting any financial help for her children, she immediately thought of Buddies. So the good doc took down the lady’s phone number and asked the staff nurse to give the lady’s particulars to me so I can do the necessary.
Yesterday morning I called her. Nani, in her late thirties, was not home when I called. Her daughter answered the phone, saying that her mom went to the hospital and didn’t bring along the handphone. I told the girl I’d call back later. However, about an hour later, before I managed to call again, Nani called me back as I was driving in town. I guess she was rather curious to know who called. After explaining to her who I was, and after getting some very brief details, I asked if I could visit her at home, and she agreed. I made arrangements to visit her this morning, as her work shift starts in the afternoon.
Later yesterday evening, one boy called me up. His mother is a client of another buddy, but I did visit the family last month after not getting the needed reports from the buddy in charge. Since the boys are under our sponsorship programme, I needed to send reports to the sponsors and so I decided to visit the family personally, together with our part-time staff who also knows this family. During that visit, we told the boy to call us should he need any advice especially pertaining to his studies. He was then waiting for his SPM results, and apparently he had been getting offers from unknown private colleges. We advised him against joining these colleges, who claimed they offer PTPTN and whatever loans, but we aren’t even sure if they had obtained the necessary approval.
Yesterday the boy called as he was getting a bit confused as to what course and which institution he should apply for. His results are considerable quite good – 5A, 2B, 1C and 1D. I personally think his chances for matriculation is quite slim though. He has applied for polytechnic as well but he also wanted to apply to private institutions in case he doesn’t get any offers from the public institutions. He asked if it was okay for him to apply to a private institution quite near his place. The institution offers a foundation course. I told him to go ahead as that institution is already a reputable institution.
After the boy called, then only I remembered there were 3 other clients’ children who sat for their SPM last year, all under our sponsorship programme. One is under another buddy, so I shall ask that buddy to call and find out. One is Sofie’s son, who had not been doing too well in school. I will call Sofie maybe early next week to find out. I decided to call Aini first to find out about her daughter’s results. The girl had expressed her interest to further her studies and these are the cases I want to concentrate on first. Sofie’s son did imply that even if he does further his studies, it’ll be the short technical courses. That will have a later deadline, and so I want to concentrate on the ones with a nearer deadline first.
Aini’s daughter managed to get 1A, 5B, 1C and 1D. She scored A and Bs for her technical papers, but only got a D for her maths. She wants to apply for polytechnic, but from what I read, they require minimum C for maths. However, a friend mentioned that she may still qualify due to her good results in her technical papers, as long as she doesn’t apply for the premier polytechnics.
Anyway, this morning, together with a new volunteer, I went to visit the new client, Nani and my old client, Aini. I had initially wanted to go to Nani’s house first in another town, but when I called to get directions to her house (her kampung is not listed in my GPS and neither could I find it on google maps), she said she had to go to her son’s school and should be back by 11 am.
And so I decided to visit Aini first. I brought along my netbook and usb modem. Aini’s daughter had gone to the cyber cafe before but got stuck as she got a bit confused with all the online applications. Well, this old lady had never done any online applications before either (my time everything had to be done on paper), but I guess I am more used to the computer and the internet than this young lady. But oh yes, together we went through the online process, and I did get confused myself! But… we still have next week to submit the applications, and so I told her I’d go through the guidelines first and will probably be visiting again next week (this family stays in Ipoh and so I shouldn’t have any problem visiting them).
By 10.30am, we left Aini’s house and headed over the town where Nani stays. I estimated we may take about half an hour or so to reach her place. The directions I got earlier from Nani in the morning seemed quite clear and she did say, her house was not that far off from the main road. Found the landmark easily, and as soon as we got to the junction leading to her kampung, I called. She just told me to drive straight in not far from the main junction, and before I knew it, I saw her waving at me (I told her I was in a Kenari).
Nani has 4 children. The first 3 aged 17, 14 and 12 from her first husband; and her youngest, a 6 year old girl, from her second husband. From what I gathered, she probably got HIV from her first husband but had not known about it until she remarried and got pregnant. It was during her pregnancy that she found out about her HIV. Her second husband however, died in a road accident some time after Raya last year.
The eldest son stopped schooling after his PMR. Nani couldn’t afford to pay for his bus fares and the boy felt he should help out his mother. He does odd jobs, and shares his income with his mother. The second son is now in form 2 and has to take the bus (RM2 a day to & fro) to school. The 3rd child, a girl, is in year 6 and will be sitting for her UPSR this year. The youngest, goes to a pre-school near her sister’s primary school . Nani sends the girls to school on her motorbike everyday. She pays a neighbour RM30 a month to fetch the youngest girl from her pre-school every day (while she’s at work) while the 12 year old will hitch a ride with a friend to get home. Nani herself works as a sales promoter and works on shift. Her problem however, is that, other than she herself having to take leave from work whenever she needs to go for her own hospital appointment (which is not that often), she also has to take leave every month to bring her youngest daughter for her appointments as well. Nope, the youngest girl does not have HIV – she has a hole in her heart. Nani’s employer is not too pleased with the fact that Nani takes leave quite often.
The house Nani stays is her late father’s house. Her siblings are all staying elsewhere. But the old house, with leaking roof and all, is built on an old mining land, she or her family doesn’t own the land.
Nani is already thinking of moving out and stay nearer to the hospital that she frequents. Before her 2nd husband died, they had got assistance from e-kasih to open up a burger stall. They have already got all the equipments before the husband got involved in the accident. Her in-laws (first husband’s family), who also stays in that town, seemed more helpful too. So Nani is thinking of moving to that town and setting up a burger stall at her new place . At least whenever she needs to go to the hospital, it will be nearer and she doesn’t have to face an employer who’s not too pleased with her leave applications.
I assured Nani that we Buddies will help out with her children’s schooling needs. She does however have to sort out her other needs like house rental etc if she does indeed decide to quit her current job and move to another town.
Nani was thankful with what we offered. To her at least now she doesn’t have to worry about her children’s schooling needs…