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)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Updates here and there…

We’ve completed 6 days of fasting now. How time flies…

On the very first day of Ramadhan, I went to visit Zainab at her home. After texting her to ensure she wasn’t working that Saturday, off I went to visit after loading some groceries into my car. I’ve been getting quite a lot of cash contributions from my friends to be distributed to the poor families. Some of the cash I use to buy groceries, and so far I’ve delivered groceries to Fuzi, Aini and this time, Zainab. The rest who stays quite far from Ipoh, I’d transfer some of the cash contributions into their respective bank accounts.

Anyway, for the moment both Zainab and her husband Zaki cannot fast, as advised by the doctor. Their 2 young daughters however, were fasting and so they all still had to get up for sahur.

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After an absence of 3 weeks from clinic duty, on 25th July I was back on duty. When I arrived at the clinic and checked with the nurses if there were any new cases that day, I was told there were supposed to be 3 new cases but none of them were there yet. Nearing 11 am, as I was about to give up waiting, finally the nurse came to refer one case. A young chap came in with his father, who didn’t speak much Malay, so I ended up speaking only to the son. He didn’t seem interested at all to have a buddy, all he wanted to know was his blood test results.

The next case referred was a 60 year old guy. He came in with a young lady, who looked more like his daughter. Just to be safe, I just asked him who the lady was, and was told that the lady was his wife. She didn’t speak at all… the only language she speaks other than Thai is Cantonese. Apparently they got married about 10 years ago but only got it officially registered about a month ago. After a while, when I showed him our brochure and told him to call us if need be, he said, “Ya, ya, ya… itu hari saya punya kakak talipon sama you. Dia cakap sama saya, jangan takut sama you. You banyak baik punya orang.”

Ah, so this was the brother of the lady who called me a few weeks ago, seeking help and advice for her brother (at first she said “friend”, but after getting a bit more comfortable talking to me, she finally admitted she was talking about her brother, not friend). All I did was just give her some hope that it’s not too late for her brother to seek treatment, and I also taught her how to go about getting an appointment. This guy seemed to be getting family support, so he should be doing okay as long as he is compliant.

The third and final case, a 56 year old lady. She was infected by her 2nd husband who died about 1 1/2 years ago. After 4 children with her first husband, the husband died and this lady, Mimah, remarried a young chap, an ex-IVDU. She was already 40 then, and he, 25. He was diagnosed HIV+ just a few weeks before his death. What I couldn’t understand was, despite knowing that the guy had HIV, why it took more than a year to set an appointment for Mimah herself. She should have done her blood tests immediately, and get treatment immediately. Ah well, at least she is seeking treatment now.

Never having any working experience before, things weren’t easy for Mimah after her husband died. With a house rental of RM300, and the only fixed sources of income coming only from the Welfare Dept and Socso (her late husband’s socso), Mizah now resorts to selling kuih by the road side for some extra income for her family. While 3 of her children from her first husband are already working and staying elsewhere, Mizah still has to support 3 other schooling children, the youngest son with her first husband, and her 2 children with her second husband.

Looks like we need to consider this family for our Children Education Fund.

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Azman, Sofie’s son who’s studying at a culinary school, called me yesterday, saying his college was organising something and he needed some money to buy the required stuff. His Tabung Kemahiran loan had just been released about 2 weeks ago. Since I was holding his ATM card for the bank where the loan is credited to, I immediately transferred an amount into his other bank account for this month’s allowances. Less than 2 weeks and he finished his allowance??

When I asked him what he did with the money, he said he bought some “necessities” – shoes and slacks. When I asked him how much he paid for the shoes, he didn’t dare answer. He only said that the shoes were a bit expensive. Until the end he never mentioned how much he paid. Must have been so expensive.

So this morning I went to see him at his hostel. He was smiling when he walked over to my car. He was still smiling when I told him that at the rate he had been spending, whatever amount that had been credited into his bank account, would only last a maximum of 2 months.

Then he looked confused when I handed him his ATM card. He must be thinking, why on earth would I hand over the card to him after he bought all the expensive stuff. I told him that now he has to take responsibility for his actions, and that includes managing his own money.

He was about to ask me what if he ran out of money, when I just told him straight in the face that he now has to pay for his hostel fees, food/drinks etc. I told him he could spend as he liked, but at the same time I also told him not to come looking for me. I told him there are so many unfortunate children out there needing my attention and so I wouldn’t be entertaining any more of his calls.

The boy was stunned. He didn’t expect that coming from me I suppose. He just looked down, trying to control his tears. He didn’t even take the card from me, I had to put the card into the bag of stuff that I had brought along for him. There was total silence. He only moved from the car after I told him I was in a hurry and needed to go elsewhere. He apologised to me. I didn’t say a thing after that. I just drove off.

Let’s see if I managed to knock some sense into him…

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The visits/deliveries begin…

After the Buddies Family Day on 1st July, I was rather busy with my preparations for my Kinabalu attempt. Other than emailing photos of the Family Day to clients whose children has email accounts, all other activities had to be put on hold temporarily.

Then during the first phase of the climb from Mesilau to Laban Rata, I accidentally sat on my handphone, causing a small crack on its screen. As a result, I wasn’t able to read anything on the screen. While I could still receive and make calls (provided I remember the recipient’s phone number), I could not retrieve the phone numbers stored in that phone.

One of the first few things I did after I got home was to get myself a new phone. That wasn’t much of a problem. I could easily get the numbers of family members. I could get the phone numbers of friends either via email or facebook. That wasn’t much of a problem either. The hardest part was to get the phone numbers of my clients! I had to go to the center and retrieve their numbers from the first contact reports. But not all the numbers could be retrieved from there. Some of them change phone numbers as often as they change their clothes (ah ok, so I exaggerate), and their latest number had been saved in that old phone that I sat on.

I guess for those whose numbers I still can’t retrieve from anywhere, I will just have to wait for the clients to call/text me. They’d usually contact me when they need my help.

Anyway, donations from friends to be distributed to the poor families for Ramadhan have started coming in. I have started shopping for groceries and today I started with my visits/deliveries.

My first destination was Fuzi’s house. I called first to make sure she was home (Fuzi is one of the few who never changed her phone number, and so I could easily retrieve her number from our files). Fuzi and her youngest boy Iwan came out to greet me when I arrived at their house. I told Fuzi to help me get the stuff out of my car… Iwan wanted to help but all the stuff were rather heavy.

Good thing Fuzi’s eldest daughter was home. I knew she had a netbook computer that she got from her school last year, and so I asked her for the netbook so I could copy photos of the Family Day from my thumb drive to the hard disk of her netbook. Saves me the headache of having to choose which photos to print for them.

After Fuzi’s house, I headed over to Aini’s house. I could not retrieve Aini’s phone number from anywhere and so I just took my chances. Most of the time Aini would be home anyway. And if she was home, it would be a good chance for me to get hold of her phone number to be stored in my new phone.

I was relieved to see the front door open when I arrived at Aini’s house. Aini was having a nap in front of the TV. Her eldest daughter, who just got back from school (she’s in form 6), was getting ready to go for work. She used to work every day while waiting for her SPM results, and now that she’s continuing her studies in form 6, she works 3 days a week. She needed the money to pay for her broadband, which she needs to use to do her school work.

Aini herself still limps when she walks, but her health has improved a lot. And one good thing she’s happy about is that for her HAART, the doctor has given her the once-a-day ARV drug instead of the ones which had to be taken every 12 hours. And why is she so happy about it? Because now that she only needs to take her ARV once a day, she takes hers at 11 pm and that means this year she can fast!

I’ve got a few more families, including new clients, to visit either before or during Ramadhan. Based on the donations that have been coming in, there should be enough to go around…

Friday, 13 July 2012

I’m baaaaack!!

I made it!

blog1 Group photo before the climb.

 

blog2Still early in the climb…

 

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Beautiful scenery along the Mesilau Route.

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Finally made it to Laban Rata where we spent the night before the summit attempt early next morning.

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Day 2: Woke up early…

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And yes, finally made it to the peak!!

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Ok, am finally home now. Ramadhan is coming in a week’s time and I need to start distributing the donations I got from friends for the poor families…

Friday, 6 July 2012

Going hiking!

Will be back next week…

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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Another needy family

My clinic duties at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun are usually on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, but since I will be away next Wednesday, which is the 2nd Wednesday of July, I switched duties with my colleagues. I covered their duty for yesterday, while they will cover my duty next week.

So yes, I was at the hospital again yesterday. As usual, the first thing I did was to go to the doctor’s room to inform the nurses that I was already there and to check if there were any new cases to be referred. The moment I walked in, a lady came in through the other door. She was one of our clients who joined us for the Family Day on Sunday. One of the nurses then asked her, “You ada pergi ke Family Day hari tu?” Before she could say anything, I was the one who answered, “Ada!” She then looked at me and asked, “Itu hali you ada pigi ka?” She didn’t recognise me although on Sunday she was properly introduced to me by her buddy. Probably because on Sunday I was very casual (I was in my trackbottom and long-sleeve t-shirt and was also wearing a cap over my tudung) while at the clinic yesterday I was back to my “mak aji” mode… :)

Anyway, I was told there were supposed to be 4 new cases yesterday. So I just went to wait at the support service room. It wasn’t long before the nurse came in to refer the first case. The moment the patient walked in, I recognised her straight away. She may be a new case at the HIV clinic, but she had been our client for many years already. You see, Pushpa, was infected since birth and her parents died when she was still a toddler. She then stayed with her maternal grandma while her sister went to stay with her paternal family. We lost contact with Pushpa when she ran away from her maternal family to seek a better life with her paternal family in KL, and so when I saw her yesterday, I was quite surprised. Apparently things didn’t really go well between her and her sister, and so, after some “drama” which I shall not mention here, she’s now back with her maternal family.

Prior to this, Pushpa had been going for her appointments at the paediatric clinic, but she’s 16 this year, and so the paed referred her to the adult clinic beginning yesterday. Wow! How time flies. She’s a beautiful young lady now.

For the second case referred to me yesterday, SN herself brought the lady to the room to see me and to brief me first about the case. A rather problematic one, which was why SN briefed me herself before leaving the lady with me.

Mas, a 40 year old lady, got infected through her first husband, an ex-IVDU. She knew her husband was HIV+, but never went for testing herself. After the husband died in a road accident, Mas remarried. Nope, no pre-marital mandatory testing because she and her husband got married across the border. She was his 2nd wife. It was only during her 3rd pregnancy with the 2nd husband that she was found to be HIV+. The 3rd child was born prematurely, and didn’t make it. The 2nd child was found to be HIV+, and died young too.

After she was found to be positive, her 2nd husband went for testing, and was found to be negative. After thinking things over, they decided to settle for a divorce. He does after all, have another wife, and they didn’t want to risk spreading the virus to that wife if they continued to be together. They agreed that Mas should take care of their eldest child, the only one left after the younger 2 died.

So, does that mean now Mas only has to take care of one child? Oh no… she was married before, remember? She still has 6 other living children from her first marriage… aged 17, 16, 14, 13, 11 & 10. Wow! The 13 and 11 year olds are being taken care by their paternal grandparents, while the other 4 are staying with Mas. Plus the 8 year old from her 2nd marriage, Mas now has to take care of 5 schooling children. And she’s not working. She used to get Welfare Aid of RM450 per month, but that was from another state where she had been staying before, but now that she has moved to Perak,  her file needs to be transferred here, and it may take some time before she starts getting the assistance again. For the moment she’s staying with her mother, who supports them with her pension.

Mas does intend to find herself a job when she gets better (she never went for treatment after she found out she was HIV+, it was only recently she had to be warded for TB and so her case was finally referred to the HIV clinic), but for the moment we may need to help out especially with her children’s educational needs. Mas however was quite concerned when I asked if we could visit her at home to assess her situation. You see, she stays with her mother and her younger sister, and they both do not know that Mas is HIV+. I told her not to worry as we don’t talk about HIV during our assessment visits. We only find out more about their financial situation and the children’s educational needs.

I probably will have to arrange a visit soon, and hopefully I can bring along a trainee volunteer, but whatever it is, that will have to wait until I come back from KK…

Yep, will be taking a few days break to attempt getting to the highest peak in South East Asia…

Monday, 2 July 2012

A fun day out at Bukit Kinding Resort

After months of preparation, we finally had our Family Day this year on 1st July. With the day clashing with the Ipoh International Run, where vehicles had to give way to runners, we had to look for best alternative routes to make sure our own event would start on time.

And yes, we did start on time. We had arranged for our volunteers to pick up our clients either from their homes or the bus station and meet up time at BKR was 9 am. Starting off with breakfast of nasi lemak, we didn’t want to waste any more time after that and went straight for the water activities…

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Some didn’t want to get wet, they had the option to go cycling around the place…

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…and view the beautiful scenery…

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After lunch, we headed to the starting point of the flying fox activity… yep, the longest in Malaysia.

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We had to walk all the way up to get to the  start point…

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… to “fly” all the way down…

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WEEEEEEEEE…..

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Everybody, kids and adults, had a wonderful time. And oh, we made sure every single one of them went home with a lucky draw prize. Overall it was a success.

My own personal verdict? I simply love this place, and plan to go again!