Looking through the list of phone numbers saved in my mobile phone, I noticed quite a number of them belong to clients of Buddies. 67 of the phone numbers belong to either my clients, or the clients of my fellow volunteers (who sometimes tend to call me when they can’t get hold of their own buddy) or the children of my clients who are now big enough to have their own phones and mature enough to call me directly.
With that many clients, how do I keep in touch with them?
Well, initially when I did not have that many clients, I’d be visiting almost all my clients quite regularly. And if they are poor, the visits would usually be on a monthly basis. Yep, I used to visit Lin, Yah, Fuzi and Mrs K on a monthly basis, bringing along some groceries with me as well. And previously, stories of Nuri, Wani and Zainab also cropped up from time to time in this blog. Yep, these are some of my older clients.
But once my list of clients grew, I had to prioritize, visiting the needy ones more often, while the rest would have to do with just phone calls or text messages, and meeting them only occasionally like during our annual Family Day, or during our year-end back-to-school shopping (BTSS) sessions.
So yes, for the past 5 rounds of BTSS, I’ve been taking the opportunity to get some updates from my clients, although when the BTSS involved so many families in the same session, like last week’s BTSS in Ipoh and today’s BTSS in Batu Gajah, even getting that little bit of info from each and every one of them was quite difficult.
Lin is no longer joining this year’s BTSS as her youngest daughter has recently completed her SPM. Nuri’s youngest daughter (who is also HIV+) will be in form 5 this coming year and so this was probably the last time for them to join our BTSS, unless the girl ends up doing form 6. Mrs K has 2 more daughters still in school. The youngest girl, if you remember Baby K who underwent a heart surgery some time back, will be in standard 2. While Mrs K herself didn’t mention anything about Mr K, I do know that Mr & Mrs K are no longer staying together, although I am not too sure if they are just separated or already divorced.
Fuzi’s eldest daughter is already in a local university, and no longer qualifies for our BTSS. The youngest boy should be in standard 3 this coming year, but is still unable to go to school because of citizenship status. You see, Fuzi has yet to obtain PR status despite applying for it a few times already, reason being her husband is no longer around. Her first 4 children however, have Malaysian citizenship by virtue of having a Malaysian father. Her youngest son however, was born out of a rape case, and with a mother who doesn’t even have PR status, the fatherless boy is not considered a citizen. So the poor boy who is going to be 9 next year, is not accepted at any government schools, not even as a foreign student, unless and until Fuzi can get PR status. And if you think that at least her other 4 children are doing ok, Fuzi’s 16 year old son, who has every chance to go to school, has decided to stop going to school. He used to get into all sorts of trouble in school and even when Fuzi sent him to a vocational school, staying at the school hostel, the boy ran away during the night.
I am done yet with this year’s BTSS. Will probably be meeting with Yah this Saturday and Wani next week. I should be able to get more updates, hopefully heart-warming ones.