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, 10 April 2014

Getting mother and daughter to go for treatment

When I brought Adila, the 13 year old HIV+ girl to the hospital last Monday, the person accompanying her was her 18 year old sister instead of her mother, although the mother was home when I went to fetch them.

When I got to the hospital, I was told by the nurses that the mother, Hamimah, simply refused to get treatment for herself, insisting that she was doing fine as it is. According to the staff nurse, no matter what they told her, Hamimah always came up with an answer. After that Hamimah wouldn’t even bring Adila to the hospital, I suppose to avoid getting more “lectures” from the nurses about getting treatment.

Luckily Adila’s older sisters (married and staying elsewhere) took over the responsibility of making sure Adila doesn’t miss her hospital appointments.

When I sent Adila and her sister home that day, Hamimah still didn’t seem too receptive. So I avoided going in to see her. I didn’t want to seem too pushy. I figured I needed to give her time and space, otherwise she’d avoid me altogether.

Then on Tuesday, I received a text message from Hamimah, telling me that Adila had another hospital appointment that day, this time with a different specialist. Hmmm… who did they think I was? A taxi driver providing them free service? If they had problems getting transport to bring the girl to the hospital, they could have at least informed me the day before instead of telling me on the day itself, just like calling a taxi. This time I told Hamimah I already had some other appointments and wasn’t able to help.

I then used a different approach, I asked whether Hamimah could bring her daughter to the hospital for future appointments if I could arrange for assistance with the taxi fares. It was only then that she admitted to me she couldn’t afford to pay for taxi fares and that she’d appreciate any help she could get.

To arrange for financial assistance, I needed more details. Great opportunity for me to visit them at home and personally speak to Hamimah face to face.

And so this morning, after giving a talk on HIV to a group of foreign workers at a factory here in Ipoh, I headed over to Hamimah’s house. Hamimah this time was a bit more receptive, knowing that I was there to help them, not to pester her to get treatment.

After getting all the details I needed about her 2 schooling children (Adila and her 11 year old sister), I had a heart to heart talk with Hamimah. She then opened up to me about her problems, including health problems, which, to her, had nothing to do with HIV. I managed to coax her to get treatment for her HIV, telling her that unless and until she gets treatment for HIV, it will be difficult for her to get better from her other health problems, mostly skin-related issues.

Hamimah then promised me that she’d accompany Adila to the hospital during her next appointment, see the doctor and try to get an appointment for herself as well.

I hope she will stick to her word and won’t change her mind.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Shopping for the children… and the new case of a 13 year old girl

I had initially wanted to take Dahlia & her children shopping for their needs during the recent 1 week school break, but Dahlia’s 2 year old son was down with pneumonia and had to be warded at the hospital. I had no choice but to postpone the shopping.

Once school reopened, it wasn’t practical for me to take them during weekdays, because although all 3 schooling children go to school in the morning, they’d usually be back home only around 3 pm, especially the ones in secondary school. With their home being about 1 hour drive from my place, I didn’t want to rush everything and end up coming home quite late.

So I finally decided to take them shopping last Saturday morning. When I arrived at their house circa 10 am, Dahlia was still hanging some clothes on the balcony. Apparently their place was affected by the water rationing, and they had no supply of water for the previous 2 days. Water was back on Saturday morning, and so she took the opportunity to wash all her children’s clothes immediately.

Her second son, 13, had some activities at school and so he couldn’t join us shopping. However, according to Dahlia, his size is just about the same as his 15 year old sister, including shoe size, and so there was no problem buying his schooling needs without him tagging along.

So off we went… Dahlia and her 8 month old daughter at the front seat while the other 4 children aged 15, 7, 4 and 2 at the back seat. Since it’s no longer “back-to-school” promotion season, it wasn’t practical taking them to a supermarket. So based on Dahlia’s recommendations (she knows better where to shop at that town), we went to a bazaar in town. More choices of sizes etc. But I definitely wasn’t able to simply swipe my debit card for payment, and so I needed lots of cash with me.

The first round of shopping involved buying school uniforms, shoes, and uniforms for co-curricular activities (Kadet Remaja for the 15 year old girl and Kadet Polis for the 13 year old boy). Total came up to slightly over RM800. And I had about RM800+ cash in hand.

Seeing that the younger 2 boys were becoming restless and thirsty, after putting all the stuff into the car, I brought them to a nearby stall for brunch (they hadn’t had breakfast even). Then, before proceeding with more shopping, I had to go to an ATM first to withdraw more cash. We went on to buy track bottoms and school bags before finally heading to a supermarket to buy milk and diapers for the younger 2 kids.

Total damages: RM1.2K. But all the 3 schooling children are under our sponsorship programme, and I’ve also got some donations to buy milk and diapers for the youngest 2, and so all those expenses are already covered for.

Meanwhile, the blood test results for all the children will be known later this month. Dahlia’s blood test, came back with a CD4 of 110, and so she needs to get started with ARV medication immediately. She does intend to look for a job, but I told her to hang on a little while longer after she starts her ARV, in case there are any side effects. Once she’s okay with the ARV, then there shouldn’t be any problem for her to find a job.

Today I was thinking of just staying at home to finish up my slides for this Thursday’s talk on HIV to a group of factory workers. But after coming back from my morning walk, a call came in from an unfamiliar number. A lady, who got my number from the staff nurse at the HIV clinic, sought my help to bring her 13 year HIV+ sister to the hospital for her appointment. Usually she’d bring her sister to the hospital herself, but today she couldn’t. The girl’s mother, who is +ve herself, simply refused to go to the hospital. If it was up to her, the girl would miss her hospital appointments and meds as well. That’s why the older sister (who is married and stays elsewhere) took over the responsibility. But while she could bring her younger sister for follow up appointments, there was nothing much she could do to coax her mother to do the same.

The nurses had already spoken to the mother, telling her that she’d need to come for appointments herself, but no matter what they told her, she insisted she doesn’t need to because she feels simply fine.

I think she’s still in denial…