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)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Spending some time with the kids…

Today being my clinic duty, and knowing that Saiful, Sofie’s thick-spectacled son would be going to the hospital for his appointment with the ophthalmologist today, I promised their aunt Rozi that I’d send the children home after they’re done. Rozi already had to take unpaid leave for the whole of last week, and yesterday she had to take half day leave to settle the younger 2 children’s school transfer at the PPD, so for today she got the eldest boy, Azlan to accompany Saiful to the hospital. That also meant the youngest girl, Ika, would have to tag along as well.

I was still driving around, looking for parking, when Saiful called me up to tell me that they were already at the hospital. He did say however, that his turn was a long way to go. I finally managed to park my car quite a distance from the hospital, then walked over to the specialist clinic. As I was almost approaching the building, another call came in from an unfamiliar number. The call was from Valli’s son, the one who got 5A’s for this SPM last year. He told me he had checked online and had secured a place at a matriculation college up north. I was the one who got excited for him. Then, thinking that his mother may worry about him going quite far from home, I asked him what his mother’s reaction was to the news. He said, “Ma suruh tanya auntie.” So I just told him to grab the opportunity.

Instead of going up straight to the support service room, I went to the eye clinic first to check on Sofie’s children. There were so many people around, but I did manage to locate the children – all 3 of them were leaning against the wall as there were no more empty seats available. I told them to look for me upstairs once they were done.

I then went up to the HIV clinic to inform the nurses that I was already there and to check if there were any new cases. There were supposed to be two new cases today. The first case, an ex-army guy who had already been on HAART for the past 2 years. So his wasn’t really a new case, but newly referred to Ipoh GH. Before this he stayed in another state. Well, he didn’t talk much either, and didn’t seem like he wanted a buddy. So I just gave him our brochure and told him to call our hotline number if need be.

The other new case was the guy who had been contacting me via email earlier to ask how to go about arranging for an appointment with the doctor, and also to consult on other HIV-related matters. But it was our first face to face meet. He seemed to be doing okay, CD4 still okay, but just needs someone to talk to since none of his family members know of his HIV status. I’ve already assigned a male volunteer as his buddy.

After confirming with the nurses that there were no other new cases, I went down to the eye clinic to see the kids. Saiful had already gone in the room earlier when some liquid were put into his eyes, then had to wait for his number to be called again to see the doctor. So I waited there with them. After a while, Saiful’s number was called. Initially Ika went in the room to follow him, and Azlan asked, “Takpe ke ramai-ramai masuk?” I told Azlan to go in and accompany his brother and tell Ika to wait outside with me. At least if there was anything important, Azlan would be the better person to know the details rather than Ika.

They spent almost 15 minutes in the room, during which I took the opportunity to talk to Ika privately. Oh wow, you want to know stuff which you may not get from the adults… get hold of the kids! I didn’t even have to ask, Ika simply told me stuff about her other aunt (the big mouth aunt who told the whole kampong about Sofie’s HIV) which her aunt Rozi never told me.

You see that aunt’s eldest son is on drugs, while the 2nd one, a girl who just sat for SPM last year, got pregnant (out of wedlock) recently and went for abortion. Ahh, no wonder Rozi was so worried about Azman spending more time at that aunt’s house! Definitely no role figures there, only bad influences!!

I guess as much as Rozi didn’t like that sister, she didn’t want to tell too much details, so all these were never brought up to me before. After all, she is Rozi’s sister no matter what. But Ika simply couldn’t keep things to herself. She told me EVERYTHING. I will just keep on pretending that I don’t know all these. Rozi doesn’t need to know that I already know.

Anyway, after seeing the doctor, Saiful needed to go to the registration counter to get the date of his next appointment.  We thought we were almost done… until we saw the long queue of people also wanting to get the dates of their next appointments! Since my car was parked quite far, I told the kids I’d go get my car first. Ika initially wanted to walk with me to the car, but it was raining, so I just told her to wait with her brothers.

By the time I got my car back inside the hospital compound, Saiful was still in the queue. But I managed to get a parking right beside the specialist clinic, so I parked my car there and went to wait together with Ika & Azlan. What I noticed this time was that Azlan was no longer the quiet boy who didn’t talk much. Once upon a time, he was Sofie’s problematic son – always going out at night, coming home late etc. But the boy has changed a whole lot. Sofie herself got to see the positive changes when she was still alive. Now that Sofie is no longer around, I noticed even more positive changes. I could see that he loved his siblings & joked around with them (a trait I never saw before from him!) and his sense of responsibility was also obvious. This time he would even openly talk to me, unlike previously. And he was even complaining that he tried to advise his brother Azman, but Azman wouldn’t listen to him, and neither would Azman listen to their aunt Rozi.

Saiful finally got things settled after 1.15 pm. I had informed Azman yesterday that I’d bring his siblings to his culinary school so we could go out and have lunch together, but since we were still at the hospital after 1 pm, I SMSed Azman to tell him that we were still at the hospital. He would have to go back to class at 2 pm, so I guess it would be better for him to have lunch first.

I still brought the children to Azman’s place. Ika and Saiful had been to Azman’s hostel before (when Sofie was still alive) but they had never been to the culinary school (which is just within walking distance from the hostel). It rained heavily when we got there… it was already about 1.35 pm, and when we called, Azman said he was at a nearby foodstall. So we went straight to the stall. Azman had already finished his lunch, and so we just ordered ours.

I brought up the matter about need to get another guarantor to replace his mother for the Tabung Kemahiran loan.

Me: Ada ke siapa-siapa yang berani jadi penjamin engkau?

Azman: Dah dapat dah.

Me: Siapa?

Azman: Adalah…

Apparently since his aunt Rozi had called him the day before and scolded him, telling him that she didn’t dare get another guarantor for him if he doesn’t even want to listen to her, Azman didn’t want to go begging. He got one step ahead and found another person to be his guarantor. Who? God knows. When I asked if all the documents are ready, he said was getting them soon.

Borang dah sain?” I asked. “Tak payah sain,” he said. When I told him a guarantor MUST sign for the guarantee to be valid, he said he will get the necessary form from the office and get the signature. Right till the end, I couldn’t get him to tell me who this other guarantor was, but I sincerely hope he didn’t sweet talk someone into becoming his guarantor without telling that person what it was all about.

Looks like Azman is determined to do things his way. I reminded him that if I hear any more complaints about him, I will have no choice but to stop the monthly assistance he is currently getting while waiting for the Tabung Kemahiran loan to go through.

Ala, jangan la makcik…” he said. So for the moment I still have the upper hand over Azman as compared to his aunt Rozi. If I have no choice, then I will have to resort to my “no more assistance” threat…

We couldn’t chat longer as it was getting close to 2 pm and Azman had to go back to class. Once the other kids were done with lunch, off we went, first to a pharmacy to get Saiful’s eye drops as prescribed by the doctor. The particular eye drop wasn’t available at the hospital pharmacy and so we had to buy outside. After that I sent them straight home.

Just as we reached their house at about 2.30 pm, the doctor at the HIV clinic called. She had wanted to talk to me earlier during my clinic duty, but she was too busy then. There was one case she wanted me to follow up with. Actually the staff nurse did call me earlier to tell me about the case but I didn’t know the full story. The nurse was just asking if the shelter home in KL where I usually send problematic clients would accept methadone cases. Apparently the people at that shelter home do not have any expertise with those involved in drugs, and so they dare not accept such cases.

What I didn’t know earlier was that this girl is PREGNANT! When the doctor called me today, I got more details.

This girl is in her mid-twenties, and this is her third pregnancy. And no, she has never been married. The first 2 children was with her first boyfriend. This 3rd pregnancy is with her 2nd boyfriend. The 2nd boyfriend however, had gone missing after he found out she has HIV. The first boyfriend however, according to the doctor, still cares about her and he’s been the one who had been visiting her at the hospital now that she is hospitalised.

Her own family? No, they have not disowned her. So no problem, once discharged she can always go back to stay with them, right? Errr… not if that means she may go back to drugs…

You see, this girl is the 2nd of 8 siblings. Her oldest brother, is on shabu, caught, and is now either in jail or in a Pusat Serenti I am not sure. The mother is home, but she too is on shabu. So if this girl goes home once discharged, chances are she too will go back to her old habits. And bear in mind, she is pregnant!

When the doctor went to visit her in the ward yesterday, the girl said she didn’t want to go to a shelter home because she wouldn’t be able to see her 2 earlier children who are now with her first boyfriend. Gosh, since this boyfriend seems to still care about her, why can’t they just get married so that once discharged they can just stay together?? What’s stopping them I wonder.

Our main concern now is of course the soon to be born baby. With the mother being HIV+, and on methadone to add, the safest place to be now is at the hospital so they can monitor her at least until the baby is born. The doctor in charge said they don’t have any problems keeping her in the ward until the baby is born, and that is due in 2 months time. I hope the girl will at least agree to that. Meanwhile we have 2 months to think of what needs to be done next…

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