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, 25 July 2013

Lin’s Success Story

When Lin was first referred to Buddies some time in 2006, two of my colleagues met her at the HIV clinic. She was then still married, although she had some issues with her husband then. She wasn’t ready to accept our support service, but my colleagues gave her my name and number, in case one day she needed our help.

That day came a year later. I received a text message in the middle of the night, asking how she could join Buddies. Since I didn’t know who she was, initially I wasn’t too sure what she meant. Did she want to join Buddies as a volunteer? Or did she need our support service?

I decided to call her the next day, and arranged to meet up with her. During that time, another client of mine, Yah, was having some “angau” issues with a Mr Darling. It was such a surprise to find out that Lin was actually Mr Darling’s ex-wife. Those who had been following my blog from the beginning may remember the TWISTS in the Lin-Yah-Mr Darling relationship.

Lin was quite desperate then. Her problems with Mr D didn’t only start later in their marriage, but much earlier. Mr D had started sleeping around with other women ever since the couple had 2 kids. But Lin, being someone totally dependent on her husband, held on to her marriage despite knowing all that the husband had done. In fact, knowing that Lin was dependent on him, Mr D “used” Lin to his advantage, asking her to be his “witness” whenever he got into trouble.

The last straw was when Lin found out that her husband had HIV, and when she herself was tested, she too was found to be +ve, no thanks to her husband. It was then that Lin decided she must move on with life without Mr D. Mr D of course didn’t want to divorce her.

Although Lin went to school only up to primary school (because of poverty), I must say she was a smart lady. No, she didn’t know all the procedures whatsoever if she wanted to file for divorce. Instead, she took advantage of Mr D’s “instruction” to her not to call or SMS any of her friends. Mr D was actually afraid that Lin might be telling friends about him. He told her that if she did send any SMS to friends, it was considered as “jatuh talak”.

Well, that was what Lin wanted. She purposely sent a text message to a friend. When the matter was brought up to the syariah court, Mr D had no choice but to admit that he said so. Otherwise Lin may have had to open up all the stories about his HIV and his activities with other women.

Lin then had to start from scratch. Never having any work experience at all, she needed to start looking for a job. She had 6 children, all of whom were still studying either in school or universities/colleges. She managed to get a job as a helper at a restaurant, helping to wash the dishes. That was until one day when she had to be hospitalised for 2 weeks due to allergies to her antiretroviral drugs. Yep, the ART drugs that she had to take because of her HIV, which she got from her husband.

Because of that, she lost her job. Once discharged from the hospital, she had to start from scratch all over again. This time she decided to sell pisang goreng at a friend’s food stall near her house. With that money, and with the help of monthly welfare aid, she managed. We Buddies only came in to help out with the younger 2 children’s schooling expenses.

When her pisang goreng business seemed to be doing well (whenever I got the chance, I’d send her bananas from the trees behind my house so she didn’t have to buy them), the friend who owned the stall decided to sell pisang goreng himself instead of allowing Lin to use his stall for that purpose. So, other than the minimal financial aid she was getting, Lin was without a source of income again.

But she knew the basics of sewing, and so I told her to go for Giat Mara’s short sewing course. At least learn the proper techniques so she could use that as her main source of income.

Lin did just that. After completing her short course, she started sewing clothes as her main source of income… working from home. I must say she did quite well. Every time I went to visit, she’d either be cutting the cloths sent to her by her customers, or she’d be at the sewing machine.

Now?

Her eldest daughter and her 3rd daughter are both working after completing their diplomas. Her 2nd daughter who is doing medicine overseas, will be coming home for good soon, and there’ll be a doctor in the family. Her 4th, a boy, didn’t do too well academically, but has a job and even though he’s not able to help out his mother financially, at least he can survive on his own without depending on money from Lin. The 5th, another boy, sat for his SPM last year and didn’t do too well academically, but has a strong interest in the area of welding, and didn’t waste any time getting himself a welding job. I did however, advise that he should go for a proper course in the field so he could at least obtain a certificate for better job prospects.

Lin’s youngest daughter is now in form 4. With the older siblings already working, and the youngest daughter still under our education sponsorship programme, Lin no longer has to worry too much about her expenses.

Despite all the obstacles in her life, Lin persevered, all for the sake of her children. And despite the fact that she herself was deprived of secondary school education, she made sure her children weren’t deprived of that very basic need.

Lin’s family can live a better life now. With her 2 working daughters already owning their own cars, Lin no longer has to worry about transportation whenever she needed to go anywhere. And one of her daughters will be getting married at the end of this year, and she has invited me waaaaay in advance to attend her daughter’s wedding.

InsyaaAllah, I’d be thrilled to attend. They are like my children too.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

It’s Ramadhan again

It’s already the 4th day of Ramadhan for this year. Usually nearing the month of Ramadhan and during the month itself I’d be getting donations from friends to be distributed to the poor families I’m dealing with.

This year is no different. Cash donations started coming in since mid June. I was however rather busy during end June/early July, including attending the 7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention held in KL, so I promised the donors I’d do the necessary after the conference.

Before I went for the conference, I had already given some donations to Jamilah, who underwent an operation for her broken wrist she suffered after getting involved in a motor accident. With her main source of income coming from her food stall (which she mans alone), the broken wrist forced her to close her food stall for already over a month. Which means no source of income except the monthly aid of RM300 she gets monthly from the welfare department. Luckily her children are all under our sponsorship programme, and so at least she doesn’t have to worry about their schooling expenses.

But they still need to eat. So yes, after announcing her predicament on my facebook wall, some kind Samaritans donated some money for this family, which I then happily handed over to her. Jamilah was, needless to say, so happy and touched by the help she’s getting from total strangers who don’t even know how she looks like.

I did invite her to join our Family Day with her children, but when she found out that it will be held on 1st September, she decided not even to tell her children about it. Why? Because her youngest will be sitting for her UPSR this year, and that will be in September. “Budak-budak tu bukan boleh dengar nama Makcik Afizah depa, suka sangat. Kalau sebut aje, mesti depa tanya Makcik Afizah tak datang ke atau tak nak bawak gi jalan mana-mana ke.”

Jamilah knows, if she tells her kids about the Family Day, they’d want to join. However, since it will be held too near to UPSR, she wants her youngest kid to concentrate on his exams first. So she isn’t even going to tell them about my invitation. I respect her decision. And I am happy that she sees the importance of education for her children.

Meanwhile I’ve been contacting my other clients and I’ve been getting positive responses from most of them about the Family Day. I’ve also distributed some of the cash donations received to the needy ones. I still have more donations coming in, hopefully I will be able distribute them to the various families before Raya.