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)

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Remembering 2013

JANUARY: Following up with December’s back-to-school shopping, the new year started off with house visits, mainly to settle the children’s fees and workbooks.

FEBRUARY: Other than my voluntary work routine (clinic duties), my other activities in February were more personal. Needing an adventure somehow as my kind of “break”, started off the month going caving in Gua Batu Maloi, Negri Sembilan.

caving

It was also in February that we had a kenduri tahlil for my beloved arwah mother. May Allah bless her soul.

MARCH: Quite a busy month. started off with a briefing in Taiping, given to some health department staff, explaining to them on what we Buddies do.

Then my family headed off to Kota Bharu, for my nephew’s engagement.

engagement

Also held in March was something which I had never imagined I’d be joining. Somehow some of the TKCOGA committee members managed to coax me to represent my alumni for an inter-alumni quiz. I thought (and I still think) I was the wrong choice. It was a fun quiz nonetheless, filled with laughter, and we ended up as 1st runners-up of the 4 teams participating.

quiz

Buddies AGM was also held in March. It being a committee election year, again I was given the task to head Buddies them, although I did inform the volunteers that I hoped this would be my last term as the chairperson.

APRIL: Another adventure for my kinda break. This time it was the Extreme Challenge at Skytrex Adventure, Shah Alam.

skytrex1

MAY: Visited the new TKC in Enstek for the first time.

enstek

Gave a briefing to health department staff in Ipoh (similar to the one I gave in Taiping earlier).

Chaired the TKCOGA committee elections during the AGM in Putrajaya.

agm

Gave a talk on HIV/AIDS to students of SMK Seri Intan, Ipoh.

talk

And the most awaited moment for me (especially since I was the main organiser) was a reunion for my TKC batchmates of SPM1980.

reunion

JUNE: A post-reunion reunion of my batchmates, this time at the home of one of the gang in Hulu Langat.

lunch

JULY: Attended the International AIDS Society Conference in KL Convention Centre. Although it was more of a scientific conference (which is out of my league), I picked and chose the sessions that I would be able to comprehend most. Whatever it is, I still need to update myself with the latest happenings in the world of HIV.

IAS

AUGUST: Set up a booth during a social & medical health exhibition in Buntong, Ipoh.

SEPTEMBER: Buddies Family Day at Lost World of Tambun.

Cuti-cuti Malaysia for my sister and I. Tried snorkelling for the first time ever.

Went white water rafting in Gopeng.

Set up an exhibition booth during the UniKL-RCMP Ipoh Open Day.

Took part in a charity walkathon… Walk of Hope… in Putrajaya Wetlands.

OCTOBER: Went to Kota Bharu again with the whole family for my nephew’s wedding.

kbwedding

Set up another exhibition booth, this time for the Pink October Carnival at Polo Ground, Ipoh.

pink october

NOVEMBER: Another wedding reception for my nephew, this time in Teluk Intan.

tiwedding

Also took part in another walkathon, in conjunction with World Diabetes Day.

Attended the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bangkok Thailand.

DECEMBER: My usual back-to-school shopping marathon. 23 families. 53 children. 6 different shopping complexes. Over RM12K spent.

Photo0762

Joined efforts with Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh for this year’s World AIDS Day.

Buddies year-end appreciation dinner this time was held at David’s Diner, Greentown, Ipoh.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Clinic Duties

I was in Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh yesterday for my clinic duty. But when I arrived at the ID clinic, I couldn’t seem to find anyone in any of the 2 rooms. So I went straight to the registration counter in front, and finally saw SN there. She told me there’re no new cases for the whole week.

Since there weren’t many cases, SN wasn’t as busy as she usually would be. So both of us took the opportunity to discuss some cases… those needing help, those who have been defaulting their appointments etc.

Today, I was on clinic duty again. This time in Taiping. In contrast to the Ipoh ID clinic which didn’t have too many cases, the clinic in Taiping today was rather busy. Actually when I was there for the last clinic duty earlier this month, I got the nurse to confirm that there would indeed be ID clinic in Taiping on the 24th of December. It being the day before Christmas, I was concerned if the clinic would be cancelled. They had done that before (cancelling clinics) without informing us and we ended up going to Taiping Hospital for nothing.

The first case referred to us today was a guy who had earlier worked in KL but is now back in his hometown to stay with his parents. So it wasn’t really a new case. After finding out that he had earlier worked with an organisation dealing with HIV, and as a matter of fact he had previously attended international conferences on HIV/AIDS, I figured he would be a good candidate for us to pull in for our activities. He too seemed to love the idea. Much better than staying at home doing nothing.

While waiting for the next case to be referred, I overheard the nurse calling out a very familiar name. Hey, that’s my client’s name! So I went out to look for her and there she was at one of the benches, waiting for the nurse to give back her appointment card. After a while, all her 4 daughters came by. By now I’m already a familiar face to them, having taken them shopping for their schooling needs for a few years already since they are all under our Sponsorship Programme.

While I was having a chat with her, another lady sat beside me. I took a look at her, and whaddaya know, another client of mine with one of her daughters. Also a recipient of our Sponsorship Programme.

Then suddenly another familiar-looking lady walked by. This time another client whom I had not met for quite some time. None other than Yah, a client who had appeared rather frequently in my earlier blog postings. When I was first assigned as her client, her youngest was still a baby. Now the youngest girl is already in school, and doing quite well too, getting 1st in class in her last school exams.

After meeting all three of them, I went back into the make-shift counselling room (it’s actually the prayer room) to wait for the next case to be referred. Another guy was referred to us this time, but he was more interested to find out if we could give him financial assistance. Being single, never married, no kids etc, there wasn’t really much Buddies could offer in that matter. We do have our own funds for children education, but other than that, we can only suggest to them where they can get help.

The last case was that of a young lady in her early 20’s. I was told by the nurse that she’s a single mother, so I thought she may need help for her children. But when I talked to the girl, she told me she’s married but husband is confirmed negative and she no longer has a child. Apparently, she found out about her hiv infection AFTER she delivered. It was an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and she never went for proper check-up at any clinics and hence, wasn’t aware that she was infected until after the delivery. The baby had complications, and eventually died. So where does the husband come in? Well, they only met each other during her 7th month of pregnancy, and the guy still wanted to marry her.

So those were the 3 cases referred. Actually there were quite a few new cases today, but unlike the nurses at the Ipoh ID clinic who’d refer all new cases to us, in Taiping the nurses used a different approach. They actually ask the new patients if they wanted to see Buddies, an NGO. So some patients, feeling uncomfortable, refused to see us before we even had the chance to have a chat with them.

That’s the last clinic duty in Taiping for this year. One more clinic duty in Ipoh next week before the year ends.. and based on what SN told me yesterday, there are a few cases they need to refer to me this time.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Another busy week

After the first 4 rounds of back-to-school shopping the week before, last week started off with my usual clinic duty at HRPB, Ipoh on Monday. While there was supposed to be one new case to be referred, the patient did not turn up and so I ended up just discussing some matters with the doctors and the staff nurse.

On Tuesday, HRPB organised an event in conjunction with World AIDS Day. Other than an exhibition on HIV/AIDS, there were also quizzes for the public, and a colouring competition for children. Buddies too were invited to take part.

Then on Wednesday, I proceeded with the next round of back-to-school shopping, this time in Ipoh with 2 families – Mas and Fuzi. Both with 3 schooling children each. Well, actually Fuzi’s youngest son, Iwan, who is 7 this year, is still not able to go to a proper school because of his status. You see, being born without a father (Fuzi claimed she was raped – this was after the father to her other children passed away) and having a mother who holds a foreign passport and doesn’t even have PR status, Iwan is not accepted at any government schools. If Fuzi has at least PR status, the boy can at least go to school but needs to pay more.

Fuzi did apply for PR status, but her application was not approved because although her late husband ie the father to her other 4 children, was a Malaysian citizen, Fuzi was already widowed by the time she submitted her application. So now the boy only goes to a nearby Sekolah Agama in the afternoon.

On Thursday I went to Cameron Highlands to bring the children of 2 more families shopping for their schooling needs. Although CH is in Pahang, cases in CH are referred to HRPB Ipoh, and so Buddies services also cover clients in CH as well. 5 more children this time.

I took a break on Friday, resting at home and continued with my last round of back-to-school shopping on Saturday in Batu Gajah. This time 10 children from 5 families.

So yes, I’ve completed this year’s back-to-school shopping. 23 families. 53 children. 6 shopping complexes. RM12,111 spent.

Am not sure if the volunteers have done their part for the children of their needy clients (it shouldn’t be too difficult, I don’t think they need to shop for any more than 5 children each), but for me (mind you I don’t like shopping!) it was quite an achievement. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined I would one day shop for 53 children. Phew!

And what a way to celebrate my “achievement”. Completed my back-to-school shopping in the afternoon, and later in the evening, it was the Buddies Year-End Appreciation diiner, this time held at David’s Diner.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

4 rounds of shopping and a wedding

All the above within a week… all Buddies-related.

As it had always been for the past few years, every December I’d be busy taking children of my clients out shopping for their schooling needs. Initially I used to take out one family at a time (easier to handle), but year after year, I kept getting more and more schooling children assigned to me, and so taking them out one family at a time wasn’t practical anymore. I simply didn’t have enough time to bring all the families out separately.

So, since the past 2 years, I decided to take them out one group at a time. I fix one day for the group from Larut Matang area, one day for the group from Perak Tengah and so on.

I started off on Wednesday with the group from Kampar district. 5 children from 2 families. 3 girls and 2 boys.

Shopping for the group from Larut Matang district had been scheduled for Saturday. However, one family asked if theirs could be done on another day since they had a close relative’s kenduri they needed to attend on Saturday. Since I was on clinic duty in Taiping on Thursday, I told them to meet me at the departmental store in Taiping at 2pm on Thursday. So yes, round 2 was for this family of 2 children. 1 girl and 1 boy.

Round 3 was on Friday, for the group from northern part of Ipoh. 9 children from 4 families. 7 boys and 2 girls. The supermarket we went to for this one gave free calendars – one free calendar for a certain amount spent. And while each of my clients got to bring home a few calendars each, I got to bring home the bulk of them. The cashier had to give me a plastic bag just to put in the calendars!

Round 4 was today, Saturday, for 14 children from 6 families. 10 girls and 4 boys.

So yep, covered 30 children within a week. About RM7K spent so far. And I’m not done yet. 3 more rounds of shopping scheduled for next week.

For someone who doesn’t like shopping, that’s quite an achievement.

Anyway, after today’s shopping, I headed home for my zuhr prayer first, then immediately went out again, this time to attend the wedding of Lin’s daughter. Remember Lin? Ex-wife of Mr Darling? Her 3rd daughter got married today (3rd daughter but first wedding in the family).

When Lin sent me the SMS inviting me to the kenduri, I had already planned for the back-to-school shopping in Taiping. So I told her I’d be late for the wedding. Which was a good thing actually. When I got to her house, it was almost 3pm, and while the family of the groom was still there, at least it was no longer peak period and so Lin and her children weren’t too busy.

Lin’s eldest daughter gave me a big smile when she saw me. “Lamanya tak nampak!” she said. True enough, it had been quite a while since I last went to visit them. My style is to visit my clients frequently when they need help the most, and subsequently reduce my visits when I see them becoming more and more independent. And Lin’s family has definitely become independent now.

Her eldest daughter is working, the 2nd daughter just completed her degree in medicine, the 3rd daughter (who is also already working) just got married today. Her 4th and 5th, both boys, didn’t do well academically, but are both now working to at least be independent enough not to rely too much on their mother. Only one more, the youngest girl, who is still schooling. She will be sitting for her SPM next year. I hope she will follow in her sisters’ footsteps and further her studies after SPM.

And oh, yes, Mr Darling was there at the kenduri today. Smile