While I was getting ready to fly to Johor last Friday, 2 calls came in from unfamiliar numbers, seeking help. They got my number from the nurse at the Ipoh ID clinic. Before that an old client, Helena, texted me, saying that she needed to pay for her children’s books for next year. The particular school that her children go to, asked for the students to pay up for next year’s books before the school holidays.
On Sunday, while I was still in Johor, another call came in, again from an unfamiliar number. Like the earlier 2 cases, she too got my number from the ID clinic. Looks like my number is “hotter” than the Buddies hotline. To all 4 ladies, I told them I’d call them once I got home.
I got home on Monday, so on Tuesday, I called all 4 ladies. First up was Ros, who was at the hospital, accompanying her husband who had been warded since Friday last week. Since she said she’d probably be at the hospital for quite some time as her husband’s condition was quite critical, I told her I’d visit her at the hospital the next day (today).
Next up, I called Ruby. Ruby stays in Ipoh, and when I asked if I could visit her at home, she said ok, provided I don’t mention anything about hiv if her daughter’s around, as her daughter doesn’t know anything about her hiv.
Then I called Ana, who stays out of Ipoh. Her case is also slightly different as neither she nor her children are HIV positive. It was her husband, who died 7 years ago due to AIDS-related illnesses. Apparently the whole kampong found out that he died of AIDS, and worse, even his death cert indicated AIDS as cause of death, and so Ana had to go through all sorts of problems despite being tested negative herself. I will need to properly plan a visit to her house, as she stays in a kampong outside of Ipoh.
After calling Ana, I called Helena. Most of the other children I have handled before require payments for books etc only after school reopens, not before, and so I found it quite odd that she needed to pay for her children’s books before the school term for this year ends. Since Helena mentioned she’d be coming to the hospital today, I told her to bring a copy of the letter from the school regarding the above. I was planning to go to the hospital anyway to see Ros, I might as well meet up with Helena and get the letter.
So yes, today I went to the hospital although I wasn’t on clinic duty. I initially I thought of seeing Helena first, get the letter from her and then proceed to the ward to see Ros. But when I called Helena, she said she was still on the way. I might as well meet up with Ros first.
And so meet up with Ros I did. Her husband was still in the ward, his condition quite bad. Ros herself had been tested negative, but the last test done was 6 years ago. Her husband had defaulted his hospital appointments & HAART treatments since 2012, and is only now back at the hospital after his condition worsened. The couple has 6 children. The eldest is now studying at a Teachers Training College. The second, having only completed form 4 at school, is doing odd jobs. The third is doing accounting at a MARA College, while the younger 3 are all still schooling. So none of the children are able to help out the family financially yet. With the husband now unable to work, and Ros herself, who usually gets an income from baby-sitting children, is currently unable to do her job as she needs to take care of her husband at the hospital. The children are on their own at home right now, except for the youngest, an 8 year old boy, who had to be sent to the home of Ros’ parents temporarily. This family definitely needs help with the children’s schooling needs. I told Ros to inform me of any latest updates about her husband’s condition so I can follow up by visiting her at home later.
While I was talking to Ros, Helena called to inform me she had arrived, so I went over to see her, had a short chat, and got the letter from her.
Later in the afternoon I went to visit Ruby. Based on the address she had given me earlier, I depended on my GPS to show me the way. When I arrived at her house, the door was open, and I could hear the TV was on, but when I gave the salam, nobody answered. So I decided to call, and after a few rings, she finally answered. She was actually watching TV while waiting to go fetch her daughter from work, and while waiting she slept in front of the TV, which was why she didn’t answer when I gave my salam earlier.
And her daughter who was at work? Her 15 year old daughter who decided to do a part time job to help earn some extra income while waiting for her form 3 exam results. She had not paid her school’s PTA fees etc, and was feeling quite embarrassed being asked about it by her class teacher. She’s also concerned that her PT3 results may be held back later if the amount is not paid soon.
Ruby also has another problem. She is in the process of filing for divorce from her present husband (her second marriage, she got hiv from her first husband who died 8 years ago), the documents are all ready, BUT she has yet to submit the documents as she needs to pay RM100 for that purpose, and for the moment, she still can’t afford it from the money she gets selling nasi lemak by the roadside every morning. Bear in mind, she also needs to pay for her house rental and utilities.
Anyway, I told her not to worry about her daughter’s schooling needs, as we Buddies can cover the costs through our Children Education Fund. In fact, before I left I gave her some money to settle what she still owes to her daughter’s school.
As I was about to go off, Ruby cried, thanking me for helping her out. I gave her a hug, knowing pretty well she needed it very much.
That definitely won’t be my last visit to her house.