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, 28 March 2012

Still on the online applications…

Looks like matters pertaining to online applications for our sponsored children are not over yet. I thought after advising them about what courses they qualify for etc, they’d be able to choose from the list, the ones that would interest them more.

But other than Azlan who left it entirely to me to submit his application for him, the others seem to be still unsure. I still have one problem with Azlan’s application though… in the online application, the applicant is supposed to enter his/her co-curriculum CGPA. Apparently each student was supposed to be given a Sijil Kokurikulum by their respective schools. I even saw a copy of such cert belonging to Hana’s daughter. But Azlan listed down the list of documents given by his school and Sijil Kokurikulum wasn’t one of them. I had no choice but to fill in 0.00 for his co-curriculum CGPA.

Aini’s daughter, who told me she had submitted her online application when she went to a cousin’s house, still asked if I could take a look at her application. Candidates are allowed to update their applications 3 times before the closing date, and so the girl would still be able to change her choices.

Today I went to visit Aini again. Since her daughter works the early shift today (she works temporarily at a restaurant), and would only be back after 4.30 pm, this time I went to visit after my asar prayer. She was hoping I’d bring along my netbook and modem again so we could check her application, which I did.

So yep, we browsed through the courses she had applied for, and one look I could tell that with the exception of one or two courses, the rest of her choices were courses which she didn’t qualify for. You see, she submitted her application with the help of a cousin who, after looking at her results, confidently told her that she qualifies to apply for those courses, based on the minimum requirements during his time! They didn’t even check the list of minimum requirements listed on the website. So we went through the list of courses again, checked out the minimum requirements, and we still found some courses which the girl was interested in and qualifies to apply for. Thank goodness changes could still be done before the closing date.

While I was at Aini’s house, Hana called. Earlier on she told me that her daughter didn’t have any particular interest, and so she sought my advice. Apparently this afternoon, reps from a medical college went to their house, trying to recruit students into their college. Upon seeing the girl’s results, she obviously didn’t qualify with D’s in Physics and Chemistry, and she didn’t even take up Biology. The reps definitely could not rope her in to join them. But somehow they managed to influence the girl to suddenly get interested in Medic, and suggested to her that she sits for the science subjects in this year’s SPM to enable her to apply for Medic at their college for next year.

Hana and her daughter actually fell for it. When I told Hana that based on her results, the daughter is not made for Medic, Hana replied, “Tapi dia minat perubatan!” Oh dear… from tak tau nak minat apa, suddenly after one visit by the private college reps, she now minat, of all the things, perubatan? Minat perubatan or minat the income prospects of those with Medic qualifications as must have been highlighted by the reps from the college?? Those reps were only thinking about the RMs for themselves…

I advised Hana against it and asked to her to get the daughter to take a look at the list of courses which the girl qualifies to apply for. I hope they will be more realistic in making their decision. Even if she doesn’t get any offers, maybe she should just consider form 6, in a proper government school… rather than sitting for individual SPM papers privately. It’s a different story if Hana has lots of money!

I hope Hana’s daughter will consider the list of courses I highlighted to her…

Monday, 26 March 2012

Of SPM results & online applications…

Ever since our Education Sponsorship for Children programme began in 2008, we’ve never had any of the sponsored children sitting for their SPM. So I was never really bothered when SPM results were announced.

That was until last year when 5 of our sponsored children sat for their SPM. Even so, on the day the results were announced last week, initially things didn’t really register to me, until the next day when one of them called me up, seeking my advice on what courses and which varsities he should apply for with the kind of results he got.

I then remembered that there were a few other children who would have gotten their results as well, so I called up Aini. Apparently her daughter did try to call me the day before to inform me of her results, but somehow she couldn’t reach me. She had gone to a cyber cafe to do her online application, but got confused. So on Friday I went over to her house, with my netbook and usb modem, so we could go through the website together.

But for someone who sat for her SPM yonks ago, I wasn’t too familiar with the online application either. We did however, browse though the courses available and minimum qualifications needed for each course, so the girl could decide which course she should apply for. I thought of going again over the weekend to finalise things with her, but they were going to KL to a relative’s house. However on Saturday night, the girl texted me to inform me that she had already submitted her online application from her cousin’s house.

On Saturday I called Sofie to find out how her son fared in the exams. The boy, Azlan, was at work (he had been working temporarily to help out with the family’s finances especially since lately Sofie had not been feeling too well and had not been selling nasi lemak as usual) and Sofie couldn’t really answer the questions I asked her about Azlan’s results and application to further his studies. She could only tell me that he is interested to further his studies, but is thinking of doing so only after Sofie gets better. I told her that even if he applies now, if offered, the courses will only start probably in July. Sofie then gave me Azlan’s number so I could speak to him personally.

Azlan had always been the quiet type. He doesn’t talk much even when I speak to him face to face. Speaking to him over the phone is even worse. How was I supposed to get info from him? I finally decided to send him a text message, and whaddaya know… it was much easier getting info from him that way!

When he confirmed that he indeed was interested to further his studies, I asked if he had already bought the Unik ID from BSN, needed for all the online applications. He didn’t even know what it was. Oh dear. Closing date is 2nd April. No point asking him to go get the Unik ID, with the job that he’s doing now, he won’t have the time to go to the bank to do so. He did pass his maths, so he should qualify for the certificate courses at IKM at least. I will be going over to meet Sofie today to get Azlan’s results and whatever other details needed for the online application.

Yesterday Hana called me up. Her daughter too sat for her SPM last year and is now unsure of what course to take up and so Hana was seeking my advice. She called from her workplace and couldn’t answer me when I asked for details of her daughter’s results, so I couldn’t really suggest what courses to her. However, she said she’d be coming to Ipoh for her appointment at the hospital tomorrow, so she’d bring along a copy of the results for me to have a look and then suggest the relevant courses. After Azlan’s ignorance about the Unik ID, I wonder if this girl had got hers. I’ll find out tomorrow.

So yeah, ever since the results were announced last Wednesday, I had been surfing the UPU MOHE website for an intensive study of all the courses available. Hopefully by next year, I’ll be more ready when the SPM results are announced. I have a few more sponsored children sitting for their SPM this year…

Friday, 23 March 2012

Visiting the old & the new…

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…

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The new cases at the clinic

I was on clinic duty again yesterday, this time with a trainee volunteer. And this time I didn’t have to wait long. The moment I went to the doctor’s room to inform the nurses that I was already there, the senior nurse immediately instructed the junior nurse to bring over a new case to see me at the counselling room.

The first case to be brought in was a lady in her early 50’s, accompanied by her husband. She was supposed to have undergone surgery at a private hospital (am not too sure for what ailment though, she couldn’t think of the proper term in Malay or English, so she mentioned it in Chinese but I believe it was something gynae-related), and during the pre-op tests done, she was found to be HIV+ and so the surgery was postponed and her case was referred to Ipoh GH. Her husband had yet to be tested but was likely sent for testing after they saw the doctor yesterday.

Anyway, they asked if her surgery could be arranged at Ipoh GH instead of at the private hospital since they now have to come to Ipoh GH anyway for her HIV treatment. I told them to just inform the doctor at the ID clinic so she could arrange for a referral letter.

The next case brought to us was a 40-something guy, married, and has 4 schooling kids. According to him, his wife had been tested negative. Although this was a new case, he had actually been tested positive since 2007. He was working in another state then, and had undergone a surgery. Then he moved back to Ipoh, and 3 months after that, he received a call from the doctor who handled his surgery, telling him that he was HIV+. However, since it was just a phone call, this guy was somewhat blur and it didn’t really register in his mind the implications of what the doctor told him.

That was until recently when he went to a private hospital in Ipoh for a medical check-up and had a blood test done. His case was then referred to Ipoh GH where another blood test was done and from the medical report in the file given to me, I noticed that his CD4 was only 15. He definitely would have to start on HAART immediately. I told him about our coming Family Day in July, and with 4 schooling children, he seemed quite interested to join.

The 3rd case referred to us was that of a 58 year old lady. Ah, someone I can call kak instead of the other way round. Another new case in Ipoh GH, although she had been diagnosed HIV+ for quite some time already. This lady is quite knowledgeable. Having seen herself her husband taking drugs, sharing needles with someone else, she had asked her husband straight in the face if he had HIV. The husband denied. But apparently the husband had already been going for treatments without informing his wife. It was only after the husband died was this lady informed about it and immediately she went for blood tests and the results came out positive. Her CD4 was just about 50 or so. She started on HAART immediately. However, this was in another state, where she then was staying with her daughter and son-in-law. Initially the SIL seemed to have accepted his MIL’s HIV, but after about 2 months, his attitude towards her changed. He wouldn’t eat if his MIL cooked, and he even advised his young daughter not to go too near the grandma.

The lady, let’s just call her Kak Mar, decided to find a job at a workplace which would provide accommodation as well. She did manage to get a job as a cook and the place offered hostel accommodation for its workers. Nobody else other than her children knew about this though. Then one fine day, Kak Mar’s younger sister went to visit her at the daughter’s house and became furious when told that Kak Mar was staying at the hostel. She told Kak Mar to come back to Perak & stay at their mother’s house.

So yes, Kak Mar went back to Perak where she now stays with her mother, sister and youngest daughter who is now in form 5. However, due to some miscommunication with the nurse at the ID clinic she used to frequent, no referrals were obtained and Kak Mar stopped taking her HAART, until recently when she decided to go to the district hospital near her place and asked around where she could get supply of the ARV drugs. Unlike most HIV+ women who’d feel embarrassed to admit they have HIV, Kak Mar was so positive thinking, she couldn’t care less what others would think of her. She finally got to see a doctor there who immediately referred her to Ipoh GH so she could continue treatment.

I decided to assign myself as Kak Mar’s buddy – not so much because she needed a buddy, but because I felt she’d be good for peer support. In fact, she immediately agreed when I asked her if she’d mind it if I referred anyone to her should there be any cases around her area who may need to talk to someone in the same boat.

The last case referred to us was a guy who just got back from overseas. He and a few other family members had been staying overseas for quite some time. According to him, he had been diagnosed HIV+ since he was 20 years old, but at that time, he didn’t really understand the implications and decided to ignore it. That was untll last year when he was hospitalised and tests showed that his CD4 was only 2! Since he wasn’t a citizen of that country, they told him they couldn’t keep him long in the hospital and the other choice would be to send him to a specific home. This guy figured he might as well come back to Malaysia to get the necessary treatment.

So came back he did. In fact, his younger brother, who was also overseas with him, decided to come back as well so he could take care of his brother. Now they are a renting a house together, with the younger brother working to support his older brother. This guy sure is lucky to get that kind of family support!

Those were the 4 new cases yesterday. 3 assigned buddies, while the last one didn’t seem to need our service, although I still gave him our brochure with our hotline number in case he needed our help.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

More visits…

When I received a text message from Mrs K on Wednesday informing me about the motor accident she & Mr K had 2 weeks earlier, I figured I should pay them a visit. With both Mr & Mrs K on MC, they should be at home even on a weekday. And since lately it has been raining almost every afternoon/evening, I decided to visit on Friday morning.

Right after I replied Mrs K’s SMS, a call came in from Imran. When he asked for my advise earlier about getting working capital to start employing extra workers in his small business, I advised him to seek MARA’s help. And so he went, and chances looked good. Only thing was, Imran said he needed a support letter from an NGO and thought we Buddies may be able to help. I on the other hand, thought my NGO wouldn’t be too relevant to support such applications. What if they asked what Buddies do? I wouldn’t want to expose Imran’s HIV status…

Anyway, since I was planning to visit the K’s, and Imran’s small workshop is just on the way, I told Imran I’d stop by on my way back from visiting the K’s.

So after loading my car with some groceries, off I went, first to visit the K’s. Their 2 younger girls greeted me at the gate, and one of them helped to unload the groceries. I asked the youngest girl (remember Baby K?) why she wasn’t at school (yep, she’s already in kindergarten – no more baby!). She quickly answered, “Motor takde nak hantar…”

Ah yes, usually either Mr or Mrs K would send the girls to school on their motorbike. But ever since the accident, the motor had been at a workshop, and repairs will only start once the go-ahead is obtained from the insurance company. So for the moment, they are, shall we say, “patah kaki” without their mode of transportation. Mrs K is already worried how she’s supposed to go to work next week, after her MC ends. Mr K’s MC has been extended due to a fractured bone.

With both Mr & Mrs K on MC, it only means less income for the family this month. Good thing their eldest son, Shah, works at a fast food restaurant nearby, so at least he does help out to get some income. I do pity the boy though… I was hoping after his SPM 2 years ago, he’d take up any short courses to enhance his skills (he showed keen interest in motor mechanics), but somehow the family always came up with various excuses why he couldn’t do so.

Anyway, despite all the problems, this time around, Mrs K, who had tried to borrow money from me many times before (despite myself never giving in), did not even hint of the subject. But after assessing their situation, I knew it would be tough for them at least for the short term. Mrs K seemed somewhat surprised when I handed over an envelope containing some money to her, and told her it was from Buddies (we now have our Clients Welfare Fund) as a one-off assistance. Mrs K was probably surprised because usually I never entertained any of her requests to borrow money, this time without even her asking for it, I gave her some. I hope she got the point that we’d give based on their situation, and not simply as and when they ask for it.

After leaving the K’s, I set my GPS to the address of Imran’s workshop. It was my first time going to his place. I had only met him twice before – once when his case was referred to me at the hospital, and the second time, together with his wife and kids when I brought them shopping for the children’s schooling needs.

The GPS brought me right to the front of Imran’s workshop. Both Imran & his wife were there. Since they couldn’t afford to hire any workers, they had to do everything themselves. And that’s the problem. Whenever Imran felt unwell, they’d have to close shop. Imran was hoping if he could get one or 2 workers, his workshop could still open even without him around.

After taking a look at the form to apply for the loan (which, btw, is a no-interest loan), I saw that what Imran needed was not a support letter, but the form needed to be signed by the chairman of either the Persatuan Penjaja or NGO. It didn’t specify if only certain NGOs are acceptable, but based on the requirements indicated in the form, it would be best if the application goes through a Persatuan Penjaja or a related NGO, not simply any NGOs.

I advised Imran to join the relevant association before getting them to sign the form in support of his application. No point getting a letter from Buddies for a subject matter that has nothing to do with Buddies activities.

Whatever it is, Imran said he’d be going to the hospital for his appointment on Wednesday next week, the day I’d be on clinic duty, so he’d meet me there after he has done all the necessary. Apparently they do have some additional schooling expenses for their children, so I told his wife to list everything down and get Imran to pass the list to me on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Updates here & there…

I was offered a few free places for the children of poor families under my care to attend a youth camp organised by a club in Ipoh. The other youths are charged RM200 per pax, which the children of my clients wouldn’t be able to afford.

4 of the children attended the camp last year. So this year I was to look for other children, minimum 15 years of age. I didn’t ask the children who are staying far from Ipoh, as they’d have problems coming to Ipoh early in the morning, and I won’t be able to help them either as I’d be busy on the days when the youth camp will be held. I could only get hold of 2 of the children under our sponsorship programme. However, one said he couldn’t join as he’d be participating in a football tournament that weekend. In the end I only managed to get Lin’s youngest child who is in form 3. I offered the place to the older brother as well (he’s in form 5) but he has never been interested in such activities.

When I went to visit Lin at home on Monday to get her & her daughter to sign the form for the camp, the brother wasn’t even home. Although it is exam week at school, right after school, after lunch at home, off he went fishing at a nearby pond. That’s his favourite past-time. When Lin asked him if he wasn’t going to study, he just showed his mom the book he brought along. He was going to study while fishing!

His younger sister however, was the opposite. She loves joining activities like this camp, and was ecstatic when I told her we may have flying-fox activities during this year’s Family Day. Yeah, my kind of gal there… ;-)

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Remember Shidah? The foreign lady married to a local and whose husband passed away recently? You may have read about her movements being constrained by her in-laws and since she didn’t want them to know about her HIV, she was having problems coming to the hospital on her own for her appointments. Her appointment was supposed to be last week, but she simply defaulted her appointment just like that. I told her to just inform them that she had an appointment at the hospital for whatever ailments without informing them of her HIV, but she simply didn’t have the guts.

I think probably last week the staff nurse called her after she missed her appointment and scolded her. 2 days ago, Shidah texted me, asking if she could meet me at the hospital on Wednesday. I thought she must have fixed an appointment with the nurse. I wasn’t on duty today, but since it’s difficult to meet up with Shidah, I decided to go to see her.

When I got to the hospital, I checked with the nurses, and they themselves weren’t aware that Shidah was planning to come today. Apparently the nurse herself didn’t want to fix an appointment for her as Shidah herself could not give an affirmative answer if she’d be able to come for her appointment. So the nurse just told her to make sure she comes on a Wednesday, not on any other days. And that was why Shidah decided to come today.

I was actually wondering what excuse Shidah gave to her in-laws to come to the hospital. Did she finally tell them the truth? Or did she come up with any other stories?

So yes, I finally got to see Shidah today, the first time ever since her husband passed away. She had told her mother-in-law she needed to go to the hospital for some back pains she was having.

Initially Shidah gave me the impression that her in-laws wouldn’t let her go back to her home country to be with her family, but today when I asked her straight in the face, she admitted she herself doesn’t want to go back to her country. In fact, she wants to go on living in Malaysia, but she doesn’t want to stay with her in-laws as her movements are constrained, and she doesn’t want them to find out about her HIV.

Now she says, her in-laws just want her around so they could get her late husband’s EPF & Socso. I told Shidah that under the faraid, her mother-in-law does have a right to her late husband’s properties even if Shidah had any children. According to Shidah, her sister-in-law told her that if she doesn’t want to stay with the family, they will not support her. Hmmm… earlier on Shidah said they wouldn’t let her stay on her own, now she says they won’t support her if she stays on her own. So it’s all about money after all eh?

Anyway, she wanted to stay on her own, but when I asked how she was going to pay for all the rental etc, she couldn’t answer me. She didn’t have any savings of her own. I gave her another option – that she stays at a shelter home temporarily until she settles all her problem and until she can get herself a job to support herself.

Shidah seemed interested. Her only concern was if she could still renew her visa once it expires later this year. When her husband was still around, he’d bring her to renew her visa every year, as she still did not qualify to apply for PR. I’m not well versed with all the visa applications and renewals, so I didn’t dare answer her question on that matter. However, I told her I could help her if she wanted to stay at the shelter home but she must be sure of herself and that she mustn’t give me too short a notice if and when she decides to go to the shelter home.

Whatever it is, the next move is hers, not mine…

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While I was getting ready to go to the hospital this morning, a text message came in from Mrs K. About  2 weeks ago Mr & Mrs K met with an accident (they were on their motorbike) with another motorist. The other fellow involved in the accident is still in coma, while Mr & Mrs K, although back home, are on MC.  With their salary being based on day to day basis, being on MC only means less or no income for them this month. No, this time Mrs K didn’t mention anything about the need for money, but although I may be a bit tough on them, when they really need help, I will try my best to help.

Am trying to slot in a visit to their home soon to assess their situation before deciding on the next course of action.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Sofie’s boys…

It’s exactly 4 weeks since I last went to visit Sofie. At that time, Ika, her youngest daughter had to be hospitalised and I ended up having to visit them at the hospital for a while before I got Saiful, Sofie’s 3rd son, to follow me back to their home so I could unload the groceries.

2 weeks later, it was Ika who called me – this time to tell me that her mother had to be hospitalised. Oh dear, they seem to take turns to get warded. I didn’t visit then, as I already had other plans for the weekend.

So today I decided to visit Sofie and deliver the monthly supply of groceries as well. The house seemed quiet when I got there, but the front door was open, so I knew they were in… unlike during my visit last month when the door and even the windows were closed. When I gave the salam, it was Ika who came out and helped to unload from my car. Saiful was sleeping in his room, while Sofie’s eldest son, Azlan, was at work.

Sofie herself seemed rather weak. Not as bad as the time when she had to be warded, but I could see she actually still needed some rest. But more rest would mean less income for the family so she’s still continuing to sell nasi lemak in the mornings.

Sofie was complaining that ever since Azman went to the culinary school, he had been asking her for money too often. When Sofie told him that she herself doesn’t spend as much at home and didn’t have much money left, he said to her, “Mak sayangkan duit tu ke, mak nak saya belajar?” He even suggested to Sofie to use the savings in his younger siblings’ bank accounts and transfer to his bank account. Whoa! Don’t you dare touch their savings boy! Their savings are for their future! You think you’re the only one entitled to a brighter future?

Ooohhh, I’m not going to tolerate this. I think this boy is getting a bit too bigheaded. At this moment he probably thinks he has the brightest future amongst his siblings, thus his mother should be willing to spend her entire earnings on him. Wonder if he remembered his promises to me earlier when I sent him to the culinary school – that he’d spend according to his means and that he’d be using the money in his savings account only when needed.

The main problem is he had been befriending students from rich families. So he’s spending like they are. Well, not a problem for them as their families could afford it, but for Azman, surely he knows well enough what his mother had to go through all these years. He knew what it was like before we Buddies came into the picture to help them out. It hadn’t even been 2 month since he was given the opportunity to study at the culinary school and already this? The next time I see him, he is no longer going to get a short lecture from me. He’s going to get much more!

On another note, Azlan, Azman’s older brother, now waiting for his SPM results, and who had been working at a small factory before, had stopped work there. Initially Sofie was unaware of the reason, he only said “kerja teruk, gaji sikit”. Later on she found out the real reason, especially when she saw some positive changes in Azlan’s attitude. Azlan had always been more problematic than Azman. He goes out with his girlfriend and comes home late at night and whenever Sofie advised him he wouldn’t listen.

Apparently he had been going out with a girl who has another boyfriend who is now in jail. His “gang” reported to him about Azlan going out with this girl and so he sent a group of friends to hit Azlan and warn him not to go out with the girl anymore. This time Azlan really got scared. He immediately quit his job at the factory and no longer goes out at night. He even agreed to help his mother sell nasi lemak in the mornings (although initially his mother got tensed because he was really really slow in packing the nasi lemak for the customers).

Now he works as a security guard during the day and later at night he works at a petrol station. And he still helps out his mother at home.

Looks like there was an immediate hikmah to the bashings he got.

Ah well, you win some, you lose some…