When I first joined Buddies way back in 2004, Buddies had volunteers providing support services for clinic duties every 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at the ID Clinic of Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun Ipoh. With most of our volunteers having full time jobs, not all of us could volunteer for clinic duties. Only those who are either retired, self-employed or with flexi-working hours could volunteer.
I used to have a flexi-hour job at that time, and so I did volunteer for clinic duties then. With 3 teams available, I would be on duty once every 6 weeks. I was lucky to have been able to join the clinic duties as I got to learn a lot during clinic. Now, I would recommend to any of the trainee volunteers to join clinic duties if they could, as I believe it is the best platform for them to learn more about HIV and about how to handle newly-diagnosed cases.
After I quit my office job to start doing freelance work at home in mid 2010, I had more time for my voluntary work. By then I was already the chairperson for Buddies. With request coming from the Ipoh HIV clinic asking if we could send volunteers more frequently to the clinic, I figured it was doable if I myself was willing to volunteer more frequently. I didn’t want to force the other volunteers to do the same, so what I did was to divide the available volunteers into pairs of 2, and we came up with 3 teams (not including myself). These 3 pairs would be on duty as previously, taking turns on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month, while I’d take the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, either alone, or with any available trainee volunteers.
So we now have volunteers almost every Wednesdays at HRPB. Almost? Well yes, if there are 5th Wednesdays in any month, we wouldn’t have any volunteers attending the clinic duty.
Since the ID specialist in Ipoh also goes to Taiping ID clinic, and since there are no HIV-related NGOs there, the specialist asked me if we Buddies could consider sending volunteers there. Otherwise usually if there were any cases in Taiping needing help, the doctor would go out of her way to note down all the necessary details of the patients and then pass the info to me when she comes back to Ipoh.
After discussing with my fellow volunteers, we managed to form 3 teams including myself. Clinic duties in Taiping initially was just once a month, meaning each team would be on duty only once every 3 months. Myself as usual would go either alone or with any available trainee volunteers.
Then, beginning this year, Taiping Hospital rescheduled their ID clinic to twice a month and requested, if possible, that we send volunteers twice a month too. Initially we maintained our once-a-month duty in Taiping, choosing only the usual 4th Tuesdays of each month, but after further discussion and after getting an additional pair available, we finally have volunteers twice a month in Taiping too.
So yep, we now have our volunteers for clinic duties every 1st to 4th Wednesdays in Ipoh plus 1st Thursdays and 4th Tuesdays in Taiping.
For an NGO with only volunteers, without having a single full time staff, I think that’s quite an achievement.