As mentioned in my previous posting, one way of keeping my sanity after dealing with any complicated cases, is to visit the families whose lives have improved. It helps to keep me motivated to continue doing my voluntary work. Every time I start asking myself why I bother to get involved in the complicated cases, I remind myself that there are those whom we have helped before whose lives have improved by leaps and bounds after getting our assistance. The sense of satisfaction in seeing the improvement in their lives is simply… priceless!
When Lin was first referred to Buddies, she was still married. She wasn’t ready to accept a buddy then, and so my colleagues who were on clinic duty gave her my name and number in case she needed to talk to anyone. It took her a whole year before she decided to make that call. By then she was divorced. All her 6 children were still studying then. Without any working experience (she had always been a full time housewife), it was tough. She worked as an assistant at a restaurant, then due to some allergies she was hospitalised for a whole month and lost her job. After that she started selling pisang goreng to support her children. We Buddies came in to help out with her children’s education. Even though Lin herself only went to school up to standard 6, she really emphasized the importance of education to her children.
Now her eldest and 3rd daughter, both with diplomas, are already working and are able to help her out. Her second daughter, who’s studying medicine overseas, has another year to go to complete her studies. Lin’s 4th, a boy, wasn’t really interested in school, didn’t do well, but he is working now and at least is able to take care of himself without asking for money from his mother. Only the 2 younger ones are schooling now, and they are both still receiving financial assistance for their educational needs.
I used to send groceries to Lin’s family on a monthly basis. Now I no longer need to do that. The family is much more independent now.
Then there’s Fuzi. When her case was first referred to Buddies at the hospital during one of her earlier appointments, she didn’t even have enough money to go home. She just had enough cash to come to the hospital, and was hoping she could hitch a ride with anyone to get back home. She didn’t earn a single thing. She had a small kid to take care of, and so working anywhere far from home was out of the question. She did try to get a job at a nursery near her house, but the other ladies there, knowing that Fuzi was HIV+, threatened their employer that they’d all quit if he hired Fuzi. For food, she had to depend on some neighbours who took pity on her children and so they’d give some food from time to time.
We helped out in getting financial assistance for her. While we Buddies do have funds for children education, Fuzi needed more than just educational assistance for her children. Other than welfare aid, Fuzi is now getting financial aid from an individual donor. Now, she seems to be able to cope. And she seems to be putting the financial aid she’s getting to good use. Her children are all still schooling, and her eldest daughter Wina, seems to be doing quite well in school. And she’s such a responsible girl too, taking good care of her younger siblings whenever her mother needed to go elsewhere. Fuzi has such high hopes on Wina.
When Aini’s case was first referred to us, her husband was very sick then. Just after 2 weeks, the husband died. Aini was then working at a pharmaceutical shop. After a while, the shop closed down, and Aini was jobless. At her age, and with her poor state of health, it wasn’t easy to get a job. Like in Fuzi’s case, we helped get financial assistance for Aini, while we took care of her children’s educational needs. Aini too seemed to be putting all the financial assistance to good use. And Eira, her eldest daughter, now in form 6, has grown to be a responsible girl. I can get along very well with Eira.
For all the 3 cases above, the children (or at least the girls) do see the importance of education.
There are some other cases as well which didn’t involve financial problem. These are the ones who needed more moral support than anything else. The ones who felt really down when they were first diagnosed HIV+. The ones who didn’t know how to break the news to their spouses. The ones whose family members didn’t know about their HIV status but needed to talk things out with someone.
Nowadays my conversations with them no longer involve HIV related matters. They have moved on.
Of course, once in a while when they receive news about one of them passing on, they start worrying… thinking of when their turn would come. Like recently when Aini found out that Sofie passed on a month ago, she said, “Risau pulak saya dengar.” I told her death was inevitable, whether or not one has HIV. I said for all we know it could be my turn next, to which she responded, “Eh janganlah, harap-harap sihatlah selalu… tempat kami bergantung harap.”
It’s good to know that some of my clients do pray for my good health. But what’s more important is for them to move on with their lives… in a more positive manner. They are already HIV positive, nothing can be done about that already, so they might as well use a positive approach in their lives…