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)

Monday, 31 December 2012

Friday, 28 December 2012

Final house visits for the year?

Done with back-to-school shopping and delivery of bicycles, I started getting text messages and calls from some of my clients informing me about the amount needed to be paid to their children’s various schools.

Some had given me the list of payments much earlier when I brought them shopping. Most of those, I’d bank the amount direct into their bank accounts. 2 of my clients staying in Ipoh, just informed me recently about the workbooks, fees etc, so yep, since I was done with the shopping part, this week I decided to visit them at home and settle whatever amount needed by their children when they register for the new schooling term next week.

Yesterday I went to visit Aini. Coincidentally her eldest daughter who just registered at a polytechnic earlier this month, was on 1 week holiday and so she was home, just 2 weeks after registration. Good opportunity for me to find out how she’s doing at her new place. Thank goodness, she seemed to love her new life and the course she’s taking at the polytechnic. At least she’s showing interest in her studies now, as compared to earlier when she was doing form 6.

Aini’s 2 younger sons aren’t doing too well in school. They seem to be more interested in sports. The 2nd child, who sat for his PMR recently, obtained 1B, 4C, 2D and 1E. But he does show interest in vocational skills and had submitted his application to join a vocational school in form 4. We will just have to wait and see if his application is accepted. Meanwhile when school reopens next week, he will just have to go back to his old school.

While I was at Aini’s house, a text message came in from Zainab, asking if we still have enough budget to cover for workbooks and other school payments for her 2 young daughters. Both of the girls are still in primary school. Since Zainab said this week she works on night shifts, I decided to give them a visit this afternoon.

The younger girl, fondly called Adik, was already waiting at the door when I got there at 3 pm as promised. And she immediately shouted, “IBUUUUUUU!! MAKCIK DAH SAMPAIIII!!!”

Glad to note that the older girl, fondly known as Kakak, looked happy and healthy. She used to be hospitalised from time to time due to her kidney problems. According to Zainab, of late Kakak had been doing quite well health-wise. Am so happy to hear that. Hopefully she can now pay more attention in school instead of having to miss school whenever she’s hospitalised.

With the 2 visits this week, I think I am done with this year’s rounds of house visits. More visits to be done once school reopens. Meanwhile, I think I will just sit back and relax until next year… :)

Friday, 21 December 2012

Delivery of bicycles & another round of back-to-school shopping

Monday 17th December:

I had promised the guy from the bicycle shop I’d be collecting 2 more bicycles from his shop this morning. 1 bicycle had already been delivered to Ika last week. The additional 2 bicycles were to be delivered to Mas, whose 2 primary school children need the bicycles to go to school as Mas herself is always unwell and may not be fit enough to send them to school on her motorbike. I wanted to send the bicycles to Mas on Tuesday morning, but since the bicycle shop only opens after 10.30 am, I decided to get the 2 bicycles from the shop on Monday. So yeah, the bicycles had to spend a night in my Kenari before being delivered to the intended recipients.

Tuesday 18th December:

Since the address Mas gave me just indicated the name of the kampong and no specific house number, Mas told me to give her a call once I reach the Dewan Serbaguna at her kampong. Thank goodness the kampong is listed in my GPS, and so I wasn’t really worried about getting to the kampong itself (have GPS will travel!). My only worry was if Mas couldn’t give reliable instructions to get to her house once I reach the place.

The Dewan Serbaguna itself was just along the main road, so there wasn’t any problem finding it. The problem was when I called her to ask for further directions, although I told her I was coming from town A, she just said, “Akak kena jalan depan lagi sikit. Nanti saya tunggu tepi jalan.” “Kalau dari arah saya datang ni sebelah kiri ke kanan?” “Kiri”, she said. I drove slowly further up, and looked for her, but nope. Didn’t see her. Then she called, “Akak, akak bawak kereta Kenari ya?” Apparently she was on the right side of the road where I was coming from, and when she said I was to go further up, I was supposed to turn back. Her place was before the Dewan Serbaguna. Her earlier instructions would be appropriate if I had come from town B.

I then asked if I turned back, which side of the road would she be… and she said, “Kanan.” Turned back, slowly drove, and saw her on the left side of the road. She said kanan because she was facing where I was coming from and so my kiri became her kanan

But ah well, I did make it to her house and finally delivered the 2 bicycles for her children’s use.

Wednesday 19th December:

Another round of back-to-school shopping. Wait, didn’t I mention in my earlier posting that I was DONE with this year’s back-to-school posting?? Well yeah, I was kinda hoping all the other clients whom I did not take shopping would be able to buy first the schooling necessities and we’d reimburse them later once they pass us the receipts. But there was one lady, Jamilah, a new client during the year, who said she couldn’t afford to buy anything yet. She stays quite far from the 3 places where I had brought a few families shopping earlier, which was why I didn’t ask her to join the earlier groups. But since she needed to come to Ipoh on Wednesday for her hospital appointment, I told her to bring along her 3 children, and after she’s done with her appointment, I’d take them shopping for their schooling needs.

But Jamilah was one of the last to see the doctor that day, and by the time I got to the hospital (after I had my lunch and zohor prayer) and I called her, she had just been called into the room to see the doctor. Wow, I can imagine how restless her children were, having to wait there since before 9 am! Her eldest son, 16, came by motorbike, to cut down on cost… otherwise the bus fare from her place would be RM20 per person.

Brought them direct to Mydin’s, but knowing that they hadn’t eaten anything since morning (by then it was almost 3 pm), I took them for lunch first. Once their tummies were filled, then only I took them up to buy their schooling needs. By the time we were done, it was already 5.10 pm. Initially we were thinking of packing everything nicely first into their newly bought school bags so that it would be easier for them to carry the things on the bus when travelling back home, but the last available bus to their place was at 6 pm. We didn’t want to take any risk, it was after office hours, we needed ample time in case we got caught in a traffic jam going to the bus station. So we just chucked everything into my car and while I drove, told the boys to put everything into the 3 school bags. And yep, they managed to do so before we reached the bus station at 5.30 pm.

Thursday 20th December:

Early morning around 7 am, a text message came in from Maya. All of Maya’s children (all girls) are under our sponsorship programme and so Maya does report to me on the progress of her children’s schooling. Earlier on when I brought them shopping, Maya told me that her 2nd daughter became top student among her form one schoolmates at a fully residential school. I was impressed. This time she texted me to inform me of her eldest daughter’s PMR results. The girl scored 7A 1B. Alhamdulillah! News like these always warm the heart. They motivate me to keep on helping these families, especially involving the children’s education…

Monday, 17 December 2012

Kenari, the transformer…

I must say my faithful old Kenari had served me very well ever since I joined Buddies. Not only had it helped me in my visits, it had really been a “multipurpose” vehicle in its true sense.

Ferrying my clients and their children either to the hospital, to go back-to-school shopping, or to attend whatever functions we organise… (sorry, no pics of clients!).

Delivering groceries to poor families…

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Carrying materials for our exhibitions…

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Collecting toys from donors to be given to the children of our clients…

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Delivering bicycles to the children who needs them….

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And once even delivering an old heavy mechanical sewing machine to a client who could put it to better use…

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Ahh… I so love my Kenari. It had served me well…

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

More on the children’s schooling

I may be done with the back-to-school shopping for 48 children last week, but that doesn’t mean I am done with matters pertaining to my many children’s schooling.

There are still a few other families who had agreed to buy first and submit their receipts to me later so I can reimburse them. Then there are the lists of workbooks/fees that need to be paid to the various schools when school reopens in January. And there are those who may need bicycles as their transportation to school. Not forgetting, I will also have to list down the amount needed for those who need to pay monthly bus/van fares to school.

So yeah, still lots of stuff for me to do before and after school reopens. I’ve already booked 3 bicycles from the bicycle shop I usually go to when any of my children need bicycles. One had already been delivered to Ika today. The other 2 bicycles is expected to be delivered next week.

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Some of my clients have already given me the list of workbooks to be bought and other payments that need to be paid to the children’s various schools. Not cheap, from what I’ve seen so far. There’s one primary school which included a “program kecemerlangan” charging RM200 for each year 6 student and RM85 for those in years 4 and 5. Add in whatever else that need to be paid to the school and each year 6 student end up having to pay over RM300 while students in years 4 and 5 have to pay close to RM200. Some schools require students to buy scientific calculators and track bottoms from the school instead of buying on thier own outside.

Even average-income earners usually would find their budget rather tight at the beginning of each school year. Imagine a single mother who works as an assistant at a food stall and has 4 school-going children…

That was why in the first place, we came up with our Children Education Fund and later followed by the Education Sponsorship for Children Programme.

Ah well, I’d better now list down everything properly in my computer so that I’d have a record of all the payments made & need to be made!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Back-to-school shopping : DONE!

Been spending the past three days doing more and more of back-to-school shopping… on Thursday for 4 families of 11 children, on Friday for 6 families of 19 children, and today for 6 more families of 12 children. All that plus the 2 families I brought shopping earlier on Monday and Wednesday, means I have brought altogether 48 children shopping for their schooling needs within this one week.

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Total damages so far: RM9,835.10

The above amount does not include claims from a few other families which had not been submitted to me. You see, a few families agreed to buy first and claim later. After this I will need to start collecting the various children’s list of fees/workbooks etc which they need to pay when school reopens in January.

Taking a few families shopping together, I didn’t really have the opportunity to find out the details of each child’s progress in school. I know some of these children aren’t doing too well in school. With these kids, I am more interested to know which area their interest lies so we can help pave the way for them to take up suitable vocational courses.

But I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that one of our sponsored children who entered a fully residential school at the beginning of this year, came out tops among her batch-mates in her school exam. Wonderful! I hope she will continue to excel in her studies.

Whatever it is, I think I am done with this year’s back-to-school shopping. My next mission is buy bicycles for a few children needing bicycles to go to school. I’ve already got sponsors for the bicycles… just announce on my FB wall and within an hour I got more than enough sponsors.

Meantime, just let me get a short rest and recover from bektuskulitis shopingsakania that I am suffering from right now.

*For the uninitiated, that’s my “medical” term for back-to-school shopping sakan…

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Back-to-schook shopping 2 : Sofie’s children

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After a one day break from back-to-school shopping on Tuesday because of the exhibition in conjunction with World Aids Day in Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh, today I continued with round 2 of shopping, this time with Sofie’s 2 youngest children, Ika and Saiful.

It had been quite some time since I last went to visit them at home, so this time I figured I might as well just bring the 2 of them instead of bringing them together with other kids from a few other families like I had planned earlier. Besides, Saiful needed to get a new pair of glasses done, so it was more practical if I brought them out separately.

Told the kids I’d fetch them at 10 am, when I got there 10 minutes early, they were ready. Even their Aunt Rozi was home, but she didn’t come along shopping with us as she was actually on MC. Without the aunt, I had to help them choose the schooling necessities, especially their uniforms and shoes. (usually when I bring the children out shopping, I’d just let their mothers/guardians help their children choose and I’d just pay) Ika and Saiful weren’t really the fussy type, so there wasn’t really any problem in that department, although I had to keep reminding them of what else to buy.

“Apa lagi belum ambik?”

“Dah, semua dah ada.”

“Pencil colour dah ambik?”

“Eh, ha’ah, lupa!”

We finished shopping before noon, then I brought them for lunch before we headed to the optical shop where Saiful did his glasses before. And why on earth did he have to make a new pair? You see, he wore his glasses while playing football in school and while trying to catch the ball (he was the goalkeeper) he knocked the goalpost and broke the frame into 2! His aunt went to a few optical shops trying to get new frames without having to replace the lenses, but all said they didn’t have suitable frames. He’d have to make a new pair and with the high power (950/750), they all said they’d have to charge RM500 at least. And how much did I manage to get the new pair for Saiful today? RM400.

That done, I brought them home. Ika said she had to go for tuition at 2 pm. Tuition? Yep, their next door neighbour offers very cheap tuition for children within the neighbourhood at RM8 per month (she just wants to help the kids I think, RM8 charged just as a token amount), but for Ika and Saiful, the lady gives them FREE tuition. I guess, knowing the children’s situation, she just wanted to help them. May Allah bless her!

Since I was there, I figured I might as well get some updates on their older brothers… the eldest, Azlan, now doing a mechanical course in IKM, and Azman, the culinary boy, remember?

Apparently Azman did not complete his course at the culinary school. He had been using his Tabung Kemahiran loan to spend like a rich man’s kid. And making things worse, his aunt (the one who had earlier spread to the whole kampong about Sofie being HIV+) kept on calling him, asking him to stay with her. And so he did. After failing to pay his hostel fees for a few months and the admin of the school kept reminding him about it, he just simply left. Just like that. What a waste! What he still doesn’t realise until now is that HE is the one who loses. Not anyone else.

Azman is so bigheaded he even uses “aku” and “engkau” to talk to his Aunt Rozi. Rozi has given up on him. If he prefers to stay with the aunt who had caused so much suffering for his mother when she was still alive, then there wasn’t much Rozi could do. Azlan, the older brother, tried to advise him, but they ended up fighting. Even Saiful and Ika got pissed off with Azman.

As for Azlan, according to Rozi, he seems to enjoy the mechanical course he’s doing now. As a matter of fact, even though he is just about to complete only his first semester of his 2-year certificate level course, he is already considering going on to diploma level. Good for him! I hope he will succeed.

I guess we can’t win them all. For the moment there’s not much I can do about Azman but to hope and pray that he will one day realise his  mistakes and change before it’s too late. As for Saiful, he will be sitting for his PMR next year, and since his interest also lies in the mechanical line, he is hoping to join a vocational school in form 4.

Ika is still in primary school, not doing too bad in her studies (she was 9th in class for the last school exam). I hope she will continue to see the importance of education for her future…

Monday, 3 December 2012

Back-to-school shopping begins…

My back-to-school shopping for this year began today with Fuzi’s family.

Initially I wanted to bring a few families to go shopping together. Well yes, I am still planning to do that this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but since Fuzi had called me earlier last week to tell me about her son’s schooling problem, I decided to visit them today and take them out shopping while at it. Besides, her 2 youngest kids were the ones who got themselves “lost” during our Family Day at Lost World of Tambun 2 years ago. Taking them together with other kids, they may end up getting themselves lost at the shopping complex!! True enough, today when I took them shopping, the 2 boys freely wandered about and were out of sight quite a number of times.

Anyway, Fuzi’s eldest, Wina, who tagged along today, just came to help choose uniforms, shoes etc for her younger siblings. She will be sitting for her last SPM paper this Thursday (although SPM is over for most SPM candidates, Wina still has a Econs paper to sit for).

Fuzi’s youngest, Iwan, is due to go to standard one next year. But there is one major problem…

Those who had followed Fuzi’s story may remember that Fuzi, an Indonesian lady, had married a Malaysian guy in southern Thailand. Fuzi, being uneducated, and naive, had all the while believed that her marriage had been registered and that there’d be no problems whatsoever.

All her problems came much later… after her husband passed away. Somebody broke into her house and raped her, resulting in Fuzi getting pregnant. It was during this pregnancy that Fuzi was diagnosed HIV+ and Fuzi innocently thought she must have been infected by the rapist. Precautions were taken to avoid transmission from mother to child, and so the youngest boy, Iwan, was spared from infection.

Then when all her children were tested, her 4th son (her son with her late husband) was found to be HIV+. So Fuzi did not get HIV from the rapist but from her late husband! It was only then Fuzi mentioned that her late husband used to visit southern Thailand quite frequently. Sigh!

Problematic enough? Not quite. Later when her eldest daughter Wina, needed to do her MyKad after reaching 12 years of age, they ran into more problems. With their father no longer around and Fuzi herself still an Indonesian without PR status, the authorities needed proof that these children did indeed have a Malaysian father. Although their birth cert indicated so, Fuzi had to come out with a legitimate marriage cert. It was only then that Fuzi knew her marriage cert was illegitimate (issued in Thailand and never registered in Malaysia). Fuzi would have to get her marriage cert legalised before any of her children could be issued with a Malaysian identity card. That wasn’t an easy task… getting to legalise a marriage cert issued in Thailand when the Malaysian partner was no longer around.

It was a long process Fuzi had to go through with the help of a woman activist who sympathised. I couldn’t help her then as I didn’t have any contacts in the related agencies, neither did I know the correct procedures. Once her marriage cert was legalised, her children (by then her second child had also reached 12 years of age) had no problem getting their MyKad done.

So, no more problems for Fuzi? No way. Remember her youngest son Iwan was born out-of-wedlock? The boy was not fathered by the same Malaysian father of his other 4 siblings. Even Fuzi doesn’t know the identity of the guy who raped her. As such, Iwan’s citizenship will have to follow his mother’s… Indonesian.

Now the boy is 6, going on 7. Off Fuzi went to register Iwan for school next year. She was aware that Iwan, being a non-citizen, may have to pay additional fees if she wanted to put him in a Malaysian government school. I already have a donor willing to sponsor the boy’s schooling expenses.

But just last week she got the reply from the Education Department saying that her application to register the boy as a non-citizen student at a government school was rejected. Reason given… “dokumen meragukan”.

I am not sure what documents were submitted by Fuzi when she submitted the application earlier to the Education Dept. I think there shouldn’t be too much of a problem if she has PR status. But even her application for PR status is facing problems at the Immigrations Dept because her husband is no longer around.

Adoii… pusing-pusing problem balik…

Any readers out there with any suggestions as to how to solve this problem?