While I was shopping for the schooling needs of Mr & Mrs Rama’s children last week, a call came in from an unfamiliar number. The caller identified himself as a Welfare Officer from another district in Perak and that he got my number from the nurse at the HIV clinic in HRPB, Ipoh. He said he wanted to refer the case of an HIV+ couple who also has a 3 year old child who has been confirmed to be negative.
The officer asked how we Buddies could help, but I told him I’d need to assess the case first, if possible by visiting them at home. I was told that the couple go for appointments at a hospital in another town, and so meeting up with them during their hospital appointments is out of the question. The Welfare Officer then offered to take me along with him to visit the family.
By the time I got home and was able to sink in all the facts given to me by the officer, somehow I had that gut feeling that the couple he was referring to could actually be Jah and her husband. Remember Jah… the HIV+ lady who only found out about her HIV after both her son and 1st husband died. Despite all the trials, Jah was always the jovial type. She was always happy to follow me during my Raya visits to the homes of my other clients and never failed to join our annual Family Day. Despite not having a permanent job, it was never a problem for her as her mother and sisters had always been supportive. She also became good friends with another client of mine, Shila.
When Jah remarried, I was quite concerned. I asked if her boyfriend then knew of her HIV and if her family was ok with the marriage. I guess she was so happy to get married, she told me everything was fine.
After she got married, I sort of lost touch with her. Her phone number was no longer valid and when I finally did get to see her at the hospital during her appointment, I was told she no longer had a phone. Any contacts would have to be through her husband. When Jah transferred her appointments to a hospital in another town, I finally lost touch with Jah.
BUT… unknown to Jah, her husband did contact Shila, via SMS, asking her to marry him. And he also did contact me, again via SMS, seeking financial help and asking if her could be my adik angkat. You can read that story here.
Anyway, the visit with the Welfare Officers was arranged for this morning. I was to go to the Welfare office, and from there they’d take me to the client’s house. I thought I had the chance to visit the client in the department’s vehicle, but as soon as I got there, I was told both their vehicles had to be used for other purposes, and so I ended up having to drive and the 2 Welfare Officers became my passengers.
We finally reached a small wooden kampong house, surrounded by bigger houses around it. The door was closed, but as soon as it was opened, I immediately saw Jah. So my gut feeling was right after all. I had wanted to see for myself how the husband looks like, but was told he wasn’t home. He does odd jobs, getting daily wages, and so he was out at work. I did however, get to meet to meet her son, who will be 3 years old later this year.
When Jah and the 2 welfare officers mentioned that Jah’s husband was the shy and doesn’t speak much type, I was indeed surprised. Shy? The guy who had asked Shila to marry him (when he was already married to Jah), and the guy who asked if he could be my adik angkat… SHY?????
Oh well, I didn’t say anything then. I wanted to know more of their latest updates, because from what the Welfare Officer told me earlier, they seemed to need so much help.
Apparently, when Jah and her present husband got married about 4 years ago, it wasn’t with family’s consent. They got married in Southern Thailand, and up till now the marriage was never registered here in Malaysia. The husband had all along stayed with his mother, but after he married Jah, they were both chased out of the house. Jah, who had all along received full support from her family, began losing the support after she married this guy. While she still goes back to visit her mother from time to time, she’s no longer welcomed as she had always been before. I told her to keep on visiting her mother from time to time no matter what.
In the process of moving houses after being chased out, they misplaced their Thai marriage certificate. After Jah gave birth, they had problems registering the baby as they couldn’t provide NRD with the relevant supporting documents. And so the child up till today, still hasn’t obtained a birth cert.
Jah and her husband are however lucky that the welfare officers at their district had been helping them out… a whole lot. In addition to giving a monthly financial aid of RM200, they too took the trouble to help them out in connecting with the NRD officers to get all the documentations done. Their main concern is of course, that the child gets a birth cert as soon as possible.
Usually, the couple would have to bring their Thai marriage cert to the Pejabat Agama to register the marriage in Malaysia, and paying a fine. However, since they have also lost that cert, and after discussing with the Pejabat Agama officers, arrangements have been made for Jah and her husband to remarry, with new akad nikah, legally here in Malaysia. The welfare officers had been very helpful, the Pejabat Agama and NRD people had been very cooperative, the forms that needed to be signed had been signed by Jah’s brother as her wali, all that is needed now is for Jah and more importantly her husband to go to the Pejabat Agama for the new akad nikah. So why is the husband still dilly-dallying over the matter? According to Jah, they needed to pay a sum of RM300 for the akad nikah to be carried out (includes upah jurunikah etc). Jah says for the moment she has saved RM100, she needs to save another RM200. I’m not sure when she can reach the total RM300 needed. So her son will not get a birth cert until then? Oh dear…
I can try to get the balance of RM200 needed from donors, but I am not willing, particularly after personally knowing the husband’s history, to give them cash. If they end up using the money for some other matters which they feel is more important (they look at things more short term than long term), the child’s birth cert would still not get done. I told this to Jah straight in her face, right in front of the Welfare Officers.
The Welfare Officer then suggested that if I could get someone to donate the RM200, then I should liaise direct with another Welfare Officer who had been handling their case since day 1. That sounds like a better idea…
Just like the welfare officers, my main concern is for the child to get a proper birth cert…. ASAP!