I was on clinic duty in Taiping today. Usually whenever I'm on duty in Taiping, I make it a point to visit Dahlia and her children. And since Ramadhan is coming soon, I loaded my car with groceries bought yesterday using cash contributed by friends. I also brought along some clothes/shoes for the children, given by various donors.
Upon reaching the Taiping Hospital, I immediately headed over to the ID clinic to check if there were any new cases to be referred. I was told by the nurse there was one. So I waited outside the doctor's room. While waiting, I had a chat with a representative of a pharmaceutical company. She who was there to meet up with a doctor. When she saw my volunteer tag, printed "Buddies of Ipoh", she mentioned that she had an aunt in Ipoh who's also a volunteer of Buddies. What a small world. The moment she mentioned the name, I immediately knew. Auntie Pik Kee, 75, is our oldest volunteer. Understandably, she has slowed down with her volunteer works, but she still joins us for our year-end appreciation dinner.
The new case was finally referred to me after 11 am. The guy, in his mid-forties, needed a walking stick to move around. He used to work as a lorry driver, but had not been earning any income for the past few months, ever since he became medically unfit to work. His wife, who was also at the hospital with him, had never worked before. She had been tested negative, but to go out and work to earn an income will not be easy as the couple also has a 7 month old baby needing attention. They have 5 other children, all still schooling. For the past few months, they had been surviving on their savings, which is depleting fast. I sought their permission to visit them at home within the next week or so to enable me to assess their situation better.
I was told that was the only new case today, and so after talking to the guy and his wife, I left the hospital and headed over to Dahlia's house. I had already informed her that I'd be visiting after my clinic duty, and so she was expecting me. Since it is the school holidays, all her children were home. Her eldest daughter, Adila, who was raped 2 years ago, came out to help me unload stuff from my car. Smiling, and looking as sweet as ever, one wouldn't be able to tell what she had to go through for the past 2 years. I was told by Dahlia that the rape case will finally go to court soon. Hopefully justice will finally be served.
I asked Adila about her studies. She's expected to complete her culinary course in January next year and get her Sijil Kemahiran Tahap 2. At the same time, she's also studying for her SPM as a private candidate, where she has registered to sit for 10 subjects despite having to study on her own. I asked if there was any subjects she had any problems with, and she told me she finds Accounting a bit difficult. Hmmm... if only they stay nearby, I wouldn't mind giving her free tuition on the subject. Maybe I need to arrange for one or two intensive tuition sessions with her before her SPM.
Anyway, other than groceries, today I also brought along some clothes/shoes for Dahlia's children. A friend contributed some baju kurung, tshirts and shoes for children their age, and it was good to see that all the clothes/shoes I brought today, fitted them well. So Adila got herself new pairs of baju kurung and headscarves, while the younger kids got themselves baju Melayu, t-shirts and shoes. The younger boy was so excited he insisted on wearing the new t-shirt immediately.
While I was at Dahlia's house, the staff nurse from Taiping Hospital ID clinic called, asking if I was still in Taiping. The doctor wanted to refer another case to me. Although it wasn't a newly diagnosed case, the lady had some problems she needed to talk someone about. I told the nurse I'd head back to the hospital once I was done at Dahlia's house.
Done with matters at Dahlia's house, I headed back to the hospital. The case they wanted to refer to me involved a Thai lady married to a Malaysian. She could speak Malay, with a Siamese/Chinese slang, but although I could understand her story, sometimes when I ask her something, her answer had nothing to do with my question. What I did understand was that, although she still stays at the same house as her husband and her father-in-law, she is somehow totally ignored at her home. They quarrel a lot, and sometimes her husband would tell her to go back to Thailand, but how on earth is she supposed to go back without money? Besides, they have a 7 year old son, who is very close to the mother, but is a Malaysian by virtue of being born in Malaysia to a Malaysian father. If she is to bring him with her to her homeland, she'd have to get some documentations done. I told her I'd get a Chinese-speaking volunteer to contact her so they can understand each other better, and hopefully, we'd be able to give her better advice. I was more of just a listener today, but by the end of the session, she gave me a hug. I guess it was a big relief on her part having been able to finally talk to someone about her problems.
As I was speaking to the Thai lady, the doctor from Ipoh GH called, seeking my favour to follow-up on a newly diagnosed case of a 16 year old boy, suspected to have been infected since birth. Apparently, the boy had been adopted by a childless couple since he was a baby, but since they never knew and never expected that he was in any way exposed to HIV, they never got him tested, until recently when his health deteriorated. For the record, the couple has 3 other adopted children, and the 16 year old boy is the youngest. According to the doc, the mother may need support from Buddies and in fact agreed when the doc suggested to her to get me to call her. The boy is not expected to be discharged from the hospital anytime soon, and so if I call the adoptive mother tomorrow, I should be able to visit them at the hospital.