When 2 neighbours of mine were at my house recently, they found out that I just came back from delivering some groceries to an Orang Asli mualaf at the flats nearby. The very next day, they came again, “Nak jumpa YB,” so they said. They were actually looking for me, to pass me the phone number of another orang asli mualaf that they knew of, who wanted to learn more about Islam but didn’t know who to approach.
So I met up with this lady last week, and since her only off-days are Thursdays, I promised to bring her to the Pejabat Agama this morning. Apparently they usually do have classes every Thursdays for reverts/converts, but today the ustaz had to attend a course elsewhere and so class was cancelled. The staff there did however ask this lady to leave her name and number so they can call her for the next class. Since there was no class today, I sent her home. I don’t have to send her for the next class though, because after seeing that the place was accessible by bus, the OA lady told me she can go for classes on her own. She did promise to update me on any developments.
One matter settled.
Next up, to buy groceries and deliver to a client. Last night, a client sent me a text message, asking if Buddies could help give her a small amount of money so she could buy some groceries. She just moved to a newly rented house recently (the landlord of the previous house sold the house and so she had no choice but to move out), just started work as an assistant at a restaurant, and was really broke. The family was running out of food supplies in the kitchen and she didn’t have any money to buy any.
Since Buddies don’t make it a practice to give money to clients, I told her I’d send her some groceries instead. From time to time I do get donations from friends, and usually I use them for necessities like these. Client welcomed the idea, and gave me her address. Thank goodness the address given is listed in my GPS, and so after buying stuff like rice, flour, sugar, canned food, biscuits etc, I headed off to her place, about 30km from Ipoh.
Client’s house looked very bare inside, with not a single furniture. But it was a nice house, and the family looked comfortable. I may need to consider sending another round of groceries next month, in addition to taking client’s daughter for the yearly back-to-school shopping.
I got home just in time for lunch, and in my mind, I thought I’d just be staying home for the rest of the day, and just do some work on my laptop. But a whatsapp message came in from Aini’s daughter Erin, at about 3 pm, asking me to call her back. Obviously she ran out of credit. Aini, who was hospitalised since last week, was to be to discharged today, and since they do have 2 prior unpaid hospital bills, they’re afraid they may need to pay today’s bills before Aini could be discharged. I did tell Erin earlier to see the matron in charge and appeal for exemption, but the matron was not around today as she’s on leave. I then told Erin to just try and ask to defer payment until later.
A few minutes later, a call came in from an unfamiliar number. The guy, a client of another volunteer, got my number from the ID clinic. He wanted to inform me he’s got a new phone number and he was afraid he may be left out for this year’s back-to-school shopping. Among the volunteers of Buddies, I’m already the one with the most clients, way more than the others. I didn’t want to have this guy also calling me when he already has a buddy of his own, so I told him I’d give his number to this assigned buddy and get the buddy to call him back.
About half an hour after that call, another message came from Erin, informing me that the guy at the payment counter insisted she had to pay for the latest bill before Aini could be allowed to leave. The bill came to over RM400, an amount they simply couldn’t afford to pay. I didn’t have the heart to ignore them. I told Erin I’d be there as soon as I could. After a short stop at the bank to withdraw some money (thank God some donors banked in some money into my account today), I headed off straight to the hospital, praying all the way that I could get a parking spot near enough. Erin told me they’d just wait for me at the unit hasil. When I got there, I could see Erin looking so frustrated. She was so pissed off by the guy who insisted that payment be made today. She had already sought the help of a friend of hers to come with a car to get her mother home, and the friend was also there waiting.
Not wanting to prolong matters, we just settled the bill. Since Aini still needs to come to the hospital this Friday for her dialysis, I told Erin to still see the matron to at least appeal for exemptions for the previous 2 bills.
Erin, who just completed her diploma recently, is still looking around for a job in Ipoh. Hopefully she can get one soon.
And so that was a day in the Life of Pi. I mean Life of Pi Bani lah… not Life of Pi the movie…