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, 28 February 2013

2 consecutive days of clinic duty

It had been quite a while since my last clinic duty in Taiping. The last time I went in August last year, HIV clinic was cancelled but nobody bothered to tell me about it and so I only found out about the cancellation when I reached Taiping Hospital. My next duty was in November, just after my mother’s passing, and so I didn’t go as I had quite a number of things to settle.

Tuesday, 26th February 2013, off I went to Taiping for my first clinic duty there for the year. I remember my colleague telling me that when he was on duty last month, quite a number of cases were referred. In my case, I spent most of the time waiting in the makeshift counselling room aka the prayer room. One case was finally referred to me after 12 noon – a 39 year old ex-IVDU now on methadone. He seemed okay though, and with his family knowing his HIV status and being supportive, this guy didn’t really need help from Buddies.

One more case was finally referred to me at 1 pm. The nurse told me this lady was from a poor family, so even though she came late, I waited. And when she finally came into the room, she looked oh so fragile. Kak Ros, a 52 year old lady, weighs only 30 kg. Somehow I got reminded of Sofie, who at one time weighed the same. She used to work in a factory before, but due to her weak condition, she has stopped working since 2 or 3 years ago. So who has been supporting her family after her husband died a few years ago? (Btw, she was infected by her late husband). Siti has 2 sons aged 19 and 16. The 16 year old son is in form 4, and so the 19 year old boy is the one who has been supporting the family, including his younger brother’s schooling expenses.

Looks like this family may need our help, especially from our Children Education Fund. Definitely a case for us to follow up with.

Yesterday, Wednesday 27th Feb, I was on clinic duty again, this time in Ipoh. The moment I went into the doctor’s room, the nurses told me there was one new case to be referred, and one old case where the lady had requested to see me. They referred to me the old case first. As I had expected, the lady needed help with her children’s education.

As for the new case, the nurses themselves weren’t too sure if the guy came with his wife or his daughter. One nurse said the lady with him looked young enough to be his daughter while the other nurse said the lady looked more like his wife. According to SN, during the first counselling session she had with him, his wife had not been told of his HIV. SN did advise him that his wife needed to be told and to be tested as well, but SN wasn’t too sure if he had told his wife by now. Not wanting to give the wife a shock by calling her in to see me in case she still had no clue, we decided to just call the guy to see me first. He didn’t really talk much, but I did manage to get some info from him. According to him, he had told his wife everything and that she did come along with him to the hospital.

I then passed the info to SN, and immediately SN decided to call both husband & wife into the room for further counselling, and to get the wife tested as well.

So the nurse who said he came with his wife was right, huh? Actually both nurses were right. Probably one saw an older looking lady with him. When the other nurse took a peek, she saw a younger looking lady. Both his wife and 19 year old daughter came with him to the hospital… :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The children: You win some, you lose some…

While preparing the report for our Education Sponsorship for Children programme, I did my own analysis on how much this sponsorship programme had helped the children of our clients. And last year, for the first time we had post-SPM students among our sponsored children. Frankly, when I noticed that 5 of the 33 sponsored children had sat for their SPM in 2011, I was eager to find out if the children would further their studies, or would they stop their education there and decide to work immediately. One of them, Azlan (Sofie’s son) did mention when he was in form 5 that he wanted to work immediately after SPM so he could help out his mother. For the record, our Sponsorship programme covers education expenses only up to secondary school.

I was pretty pleased when all 5 children decided to continue their education – it didn’t really matter to me which field they chose, academic or technical. One who did quite well in his SPM, went on to a matriculation college up north. Another one is taking up Diploma in Accounting at a private college while 2 more are in polytechnics. Even Azlan who earlier on was determined to work immediately after SPM, finally agreed to take up a 2 year certificate course doing something he likes. He had always shown interest in the mechanical or automotive field.

Thanks to the sponsors who agreed to finance the schooling of these children, they are now on the right path in getting a qualification, and hopefully a better future.

But we had some failures as well. 2 of the sponsored children didn’t even complete their education up to form 5. One of them was Azman, Azlan’s younger brother who decided to stop schooling after his PMR. I thought I managed to save him from wasting his future when, after finding out that his interest was in the culinary line, arranged for him to join a culinary school. He was excited about the idea. It was supposed to be just a one year course, yet although initially started off quite well,  he wasted the opportunity given to him. He misused the funds he got from Tabung Kemahiran, didn’t want to listen to advise, and ended up simply leaving the culinary school just like that. He didn’t even bother to go back to his aunt’s house to visit his siblings, not even for Raya.

The other child, Pushpa, orphaned since young, had stopped receiving sponsorship when she ran away from home. By the time she returned back to the family who had been taking care of her since both her parents died, she had stopped schooling. We tried to coax her to continue her studies, but she simply didn’t want to. She was more interested to take up a bridal course. She didn’t even sit for her PMR.

I guess I can’t expect 100% success. Although the main objective of the Sponsorship Programme is to ensure that these children would go to school at least until SPM, and hopefully after that further their studies in a field of their interest, sometimes no matter how hard you try to help, things still don’t work out.

At least we tried…

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Busy busy busy…

Done with back-to-school shopping, then dealing with other schooling expenses (fees/workbooks/bus fares etc), I thought by February I’d have time to relax a bit. But no, looks like I am still getting more and more requests for help in schooling expenses. The bus/van fares for some of these kids seem to be ridiculously high, with the bus/van drivers hiking up the fares particularly for those living quite far off from the rest.

Anyway, while matters involving schooling matters are slowing down, it is now time to prepare the various reports to be included in our Annual Report, in time for our AGM in March. And since I had always been the photographer for any of our events, I also need to choose and edit the photos to be included in the Annual Report. That, in addition to my Sponsorship, Children Education Fund and Chairperson’s report. And not forgetting, I will also need to read through the reports of the other coordinators before the Annual Report is printed.

So, no house visits for the moment, just the usual clinic duties, and entertaining calls from my clients, if any. Now that I’ve handed over a few of my clients to other volunteers, at least my phone doesn’t ring as often as it used to at one time.

BUT, busy as I may be, there’s always time for a break. And my kind of break? Some little caving adventure down south in Gua Batu Maloi, Negri Sembilan. Went there last Saturday with a group of adventure loving friends. Some may call it “kerja gila”, I call it… ADVENTURE! And good break indeed it was…

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