When I went to visit Salmah last week, initially she seemed okay. Then after she felt comfortable enough to talk to me, she started talking about her problems. It was obvious she was frustrated. She was at that stage where questions like “why me?” kept coming up in her mind. It was nothing new to me. Most, if not all, of my other clients went through that stage.
Sometimes when I talk to them face to face, they calm down. Then I go home, and after a day or two, they’d start sending messages, venting their frustration, and questioning why they, and not someone else, who were infected.
Most of the time, I’d tell them that there are people in worse situations. I’d tell them about some of my other clients with even more complicated problems. It usually helps them feel that they’re not in such a bad situation after all, when I tell them about what my other clients had to go through, but after a while, the whole thing starts playing in their minds again.
So yes, usually for new cases like these, I have to follow up on them more frequently, until they gain some confidence and until they truly believe that life is not over when they are infected with HIV.
Yesterday after my clinic duty in Taiping, and after visiting Dahlia (who went through the same thing last year), I decided to call Salmah. She was beginning to get so frustrated after trying to apply for jobs at quite a number of places but landed with not a single one. She was beginning to ask that “why me” question again. I told her things won’t come easy but she needs to have faith that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. She did seem eager when I suggested that maybe she should start a small business, because she said she knows how to make good bakso and soto. Only problem is, she doesn’t have any money for capital. In fact she has been postponing going back to her hometown to arrange for the transfer of her children’s school, because she doesn’t have enough money to buy the bus tickets.
I told her that I already have sponsors for her children’s education, so she doesn’t have to worry about their schooling expenses, all she needs to do now is to arrange for their transfer. As for the small business, I asked her to come up with an estimate of how much is needed to start off, so I can ask around for some help with the capital needed.
Salmah did sound a lot better by the end of the call, thanking me for my willingness to help. But I’d better call her again in a few days time before she starts feeling down again. Maybe after this I need to tell her of some success stories of my other clients who also started off just like she did, if not worse.
I have arranged to visit her later this month, and will be bringing along another volunteer who Salmah can contact in case she can’t get hold of me. A trainee volunteer has also agreed to join us for the coming visit. Other than clinic duties, home visits are the next best training for the new volunteers.