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, 28 August 2014

Going off to university

When Wina, Fuzi’s eldest daughter, was offered a place at one of the local universities, I knew she’d need some initial financial help. No doubt she’d be able to apply for funds like PTPTN and the likes, but surely there are some other preparations needing money. With Fuzi depending on monthly welfare aid to support her family, I knew they wouldn’t have much to spare.

So yesterday I decided to pay them a visit to check on Wina’s preparations.

Thank goodness I decided to drop by. There were still so many necessities that she had not bought. Her shoes were all worn out. She needed to buy some other things as well. Although she had been working temporarily at a supermarket while waiting for the results of her UPU applications, she’ll only be getting her pay on the 30th. She needs to register at the university on the 1st. If she has to wait for her pay to be banked into her account, she can only start buying her things on the 31st.

In addition, she needs to bank in some registration fees into a bank account specified by the university, and to bring along the bank-in slip on registration day. She needs money for that too.

Seeing that she had not bought most of her necessities, I told them I’d bring them shopping there and then. Wina was caught by surprise, asking if I was serious. Of course I was serious lah…

So off I took them shopping. She needed shoes, luggage bag, a small back pack for her to use to class, some stationeries and some clothes she can wear to class.

While shopping Fuzi told me that the usual “kereta sapu” she used to hire to go anywhere with her family whenever needed, was repossessed by the bank as the owner had not been paying his instalments. Which means Fuzi can’t hire the same car to send Wina for the registration. She had been asking around for others who may be willing, but all of those asked, were only willing if Fuzi would pay triple of what she used to pay to the earlier guy. So Fuzi sought my help if I could arrange for some kind of transport.

Hmmm… while I had a few children from our education sponsorship program who had already registered at various higher learning institutions earlier, all of them had some sort of transport (uncles or other relatives). So I had never personally sent off any of these children when they registered for higher learning.

Considering I’m free this coming Monday, I figured why not take the opportunity to personally send Wina for her registration. I already had the satisfaction of knowing she was offered a place, how much more satisfactory can it get seeing for myself one of our sponsored children registering at the university?

There’s always a first time for everything.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Those little precious moments

Having been involved with Buddies for more than 10 years now, there definitely had been some ups and downs in my voluntary work. With so many problematic clients assigned to me, there were times when I felt I was almost on the verge of burnout.

Which is why it is good to take a break from time to time. In my case, since I am the adventure-thrill-seeker type of person, my kind of break usually involves adventurous activities like hiking, caving and the likes.

But what had really kept me going were those little precious moments of satisfaction seeing the success stories of my clients and their families, particularly the children.

I can’t really describe how I felt when Lin’s daughter came back from overseas with a medical degree. She is now doing her housemanship at one of the general hospitals. Although by the time this family’s case was handed over to me, the girl had already obtained a scholarship to study overseas (in other words I had nothing to do with her success), but helping to reduce the burden her mother had to carry as a single mother to 6 children still studying either in school or in higher learning institutions, and later on seeing with my own eyes how the family has progressed (4 of the children are working now), the satisfaction I got was still priceless. 

When we started our Education Sponsorship Program for the children of our clients in 2008, our main aim was to ensure that the children from the poor families would not be deprived of basic education despite what their families had to go through. We wanted to make sure they completed form 5 at the very least.

While there were still a few cases where the children stopped schooling before completing form five, at least we did offer them help. Still the kids were adamant about no longer going to school despite all our coaxing. Those moments can be quite frustrating.

But those are very rare. We are beginning to get positive results from the sponsorship program now. With one already in university and a few more in other higher learning institutions or vocational colleges, things are beginning to look brighter for these children.

Today came another of those precious moments. I can’t really describe how happy I was when I found out that Fuzi’s eldest daughter (who went to a matriculation college last year) was offered a place in one of the local universities to do a degree in accounting. I personally know the girl as a very polite and responsible girl, and I sincerely hope one day she will be a successful person who will motivate other children from underprivileged families to be successful as well.

We still have many other children under the sponsorship program. We started off with only 9 children sponsored in 2008, to date over 40 children either had benefitted from or are still beneficiaries of this program.

These children may not be my own, but the pride and joy I get when they succeed in life is like they are my own.

I look forward to many more of those little precious moments.