Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Monday, 21 September 2015
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
With 150 pax in attendance for our recent Family Day, and half of them being families of my clients, it wasn’t an easy task for me to speak to each and every one of my clients. It was especially harder when you’re the organiser trying to ensure everything runs smoothly.
All in all, 19 of my clients joined the event with their family members. I personally went to fetch Laila, who came with her grandma, her aunt and 2 little cousins. Laila, an orphan, is not HIV+, but her mother, Shila, was. Since Shila died in 2011, Laila had been staying with her grandma and her aunt at the same house Shila used to stay in. Laila is in form 3 this year, and will be sitting for her PT3 exams after the coming one week school break.
Ija, another client who I had lost contact with (she changed her phone number without informing me) until just recently, came with her 9 year old son. Although Ija was excited to join, she did feel somewhat intimidated. So when she reached the parking lot of LWOT where they were all told to assemble, she texted me first, telling me that she was already there and asked if she was at the right place. Later towards the end of the whole event, I managed to find some time to speak to her, and she told me that after having made many new friends, she no longer feels intimidated. Good to know her confidence level has been boosted.
I did go around to at least say hi to all my clients, especially the first timers at the event, to make sure they felt welcomed.
As for the old timers, many of them already knew some of my other volunteers, so it wasn’t a problem for them to feel comfortable.
Ida and Iza, 2 good friends, had more than enough confidence mixing around with the other clients. They had already met people like Nora and Mrs K before this, and so to them it was just like meeting up with old friends.
The group from northern Perak already had ample time to get to know each other during the one hour bus ride from Taiping. Among those in that group were Dahlia’s family, the family I still visit on a regular basis due to their situation. Dahlia’s daughter Dilla, was the girl who was raped last year when she was still in form 3 and now Dilla, only 16, already has an 8 month old daughter. All 6 of Dahlia’s children, and her grand-daughter, had a splashing time at the park. I joined them in the kiddies pool for a while to snap some photos, and Dilla took really good care of not only her daughter, but also her other siblings. With her 14 year old brother responsibly helping out, the younger kids were in good hands. Even my other volunteers commented that Dilla seemed very mature for a 16 year old.
Dahlia herself did not join her children in the pool as she didn’t bring any change of clothes. So after I was done taking pictures of the children in the kiddies pool, and with the kids in good hands, I invited Dahlia to join me for a walk around the park.
After lunch break, I went around our reserved huts to chat with some other clients. Kak Mimi, who came together with Rubi (they stay in the same town and have been good friends), told me of the recent flash floods. I did visit both Kak Mimi and Rubi during the month of Ramadhan recently, and frankly I was quite concerned seeing Kak Mimi’s house being quite near a river. True enough, just last week, during heavy rain, water came up to waist level, and many of her household items were destroyed.
I was also shocked to learn that Rubi’s house too was affected. Her house is perched on a hill, and so while she wasn’t affected by water from the river, her house was filled with mud which came from higher up the hill.
Unlike a few other clients (like Sulaiman, who stays in the same town as Kak Mimi and Rubi) who’d ask for help even for non-essentials, Kak Mimi and Rubi went on with their lives despite the recent disaster. To them, they weren’t the only ones affected, and so if help comes along, they’re grateful. If not, they should just go on with life, making do with what they have. I truly salute these tough ladies!
I also had the chance to have a short chat with Zainab, who told me that she and her family plan to move back to her kampong by the end of the year. Zainab, who now works at a factory in Ipoh, says she can no longer take the long hours (for the record, her husband doesn’t work and every time he gets a job, he’d somehow find an excuse to quit after just a few weeks). At least at her kampong, Zainab has other family members to depend on whenever she’s desperate. Zainab asked if her children would still be eligible under our Children Education Fund after they move back to her kampong, which is in another state. I had to say no, because our guidelines clearly indicate that the educational assistance is only for children of our clients in Perak only. The only place outside Perak with exception is Cameron Highlands, because HIV cases in CH are usually referred to HRPB Ipoh, and thus referred to Buddies for social support.
My other clients who came seemed to be doing just fine. Or maybe because they saw I was busy they didn’t want to bother me. But I do know for a fact that the majority of them are grateful for the opportunity given to them by Buddies.
We are not going to let the few ungrateful ones stop us from continuing what we love to do.
Monday, 7 September 2015
It was our Annual Family Day yesterday, this time held at Lost World of Tambun…. AGAIN! We first held our Family Day there way back in 2007, with about 60+ attendees. That was a rather high number of attendees at that time. Then in 2010 we went again, this time with a record breaking 90+ pax. In 2013, with new attractions in the park, again we opted for LWOT. And again, it was another record breaking feat with about 110 pax in attendance.
Well, we ran out of ideas again this year, and knowing that the kids love it at LWOT, and logistics-wise, it would be easier for us since the park is in Ipoh, so this year the choice was LWOT yet again. And this time, it was another record-breaking feat with 150 pax in attendance, and more than half of those in attendance were families of MY clients.
The day started off with a few of the volunteers turning into “prebet sapu” drivers, fetching clients and their families from either Medan Gopeng bus stop or Medan Kidd bus station. For about 28 pax from northern Perak, a bus had been arranged to bring them to Ipoh from Taiping, with only one volunteer in charge (the other volunteer from Taiping has gone for Haj).
For those families who opted to go on their own to LWOT, we told them to assemble there by 9 am. No doubt the park only opens at 10 am, but we wanted to give them some light breakfast before going in (since outside food are not allowed in), get them to fill in the indemnity forms, and do a proper headcount to determine how many more tickets we needed to buy. When we confirmed the number of pax and paid in full to LWOT earlier, we didn’t book for the total number who had confirmed earlier, because there were bound to be last minute pullouts. And indeed there were a few who didn’t turn up at all and didn’t even bother to inform us.
With over 100 people assembling under the trees at the car park at LWOT, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to do the headcount. So, we decided to distribute the 125 tickets we had booked earlier, and then count the number of those who didn’t get any tickets. Much easier maths that way too. Ahhh… but then again, there were clients who, despite being told that the tickets marked C was for children below 12, simply took all C tickets for the family, and ended up getting stuck at the entrance because they were obviously adults! Thank goodness we had not bought the additional tickets yet by then, so there was still time to change the numbers when the LWOT staff who took care of us filled in a special form to allow us to buy the tickets at a discounted rate.
Settled? Nope. After we bought the additional tickets using the form allowing for discounts, a few more clients turned up. They probably thought they wouldn’t be causing us any trouble if they turn up late. By the time the last family arrived, I only had 2 more tickets with me, so I had to buy 5 more tickets, including one for myself. We were only allowed to use the form to qualify for a group discount once, so this time we had to go for normal rate. But when I was buying the tickets at the counter, the lady asked if I had any Mesra card, and indeed I had one, and whaddaya know, I did get some discounts after all!
Well then, welcome to Lost World of Tambun!
I have to admit, the staff in charge this time was really really helpful. Not only did we get 2 huts reserved for us, the lady was kind enough to arrange for complimentary free-flow orange juice placed at one of our reserved huts. Previously we did try to ask for that, but it was never entertained.
The theme park was indeed a good place to have our Family Day. There were more than enough attractions for everyone, young or old to do whatever they wanted to do.
You can go round the adventure river…
Or have a dip in the hot springs…
Or go ride the roller coaster… (which I did!)
Or play in the kiddies pool like these children did (and I joined them too with a waterproof camera in hand to take their pics)…
Or just take a stroll (or take the tram) around the park including the petting zoo, enjoying all the beautiful sceneries…
With the extra tickets we had to buy, it also meant we needed to buy extra lunch, since the pre-prepared lunch was only made available for the number we booked for earlier. Lucky draw prizes were also given out during lunch. The number drawn was not to determine who would be getting the prizes, but since we had enough items to be distributed to everyone, the numbers were only to determine what they would be getting. There were loads of toys for the kids, and for the adults, we had handbags, sunglasses, clothes, scarves, and even jewelleries.
There was a moment of panic while we were giving out the lucky draw prizes when a client had an attack of fits. Thank goodness there was a doctor around (the husband of one of our volunteers), and with him attending to her, we didn’t have to worry too much, especially since I knew the client had a history of fits and it wasn’t the first time.
A few clients who came on their own went back after lunch, while most continued enjoying all the attractions available at the park. Tea was served at about 3 pm, and immediately after that, the Taiping group left while the rest stayed on until about 4 pm or so.
I’d like to thank all the volunteers for their help and dedication in ensuring the success of the event.
You rock babes!