It has been more than 12 years since I first joined Buddies of Ipoh as a volunteer. After looking through the whole list of over 500 clients of Buddies, and with about 25 confirmed volunteers, on average each volunteer should have been assigned to 20 cases each. But average doesn't seem to apply to me. I listed down all the clients that I had been assigned to since day 1, and the total I have is 78 clients! That of course includes those who have passed on, or have moved to another state, or have gone MIA.
With the number of clients I had been dealing with, I've come across all kinds of problems and complicated situations faced by my clients.
There was Anita, who had problems registering for her son's birth cert, not because of her unwed status, but because she never had a birth cert herself (after over 20 years)! With her parents already dead, and problematic siblings from various fathers not willing to cooperate, the last I know, that problem had yet to be solved.
Then there was Lily, whose husband had been infected with HIV for quite some time without her being told about it. The husband's family took him back to their hometown, and when he died, they didn't even bother to inform Lily or her children about it. It was only when one of the children called to ask how their father was doing, that they were told of his death. And with a death cert indicating that the husband died of AIDS, Hana went to get herself tested. Hana was not the only one infected, her youngest son (5 at the time) was found to be positive too.
There was Fuzi, an Indonesian citizen, whose marriage was never registered in Malaysia even after 12 years. She only realised her problem when her eldest daughter had problems at JPN to get her MyKad at 12 years of age. By then Fuzi's husband had died, and Fuzi had to go through all sorts of trouble to legalise the marriage to enable her children to get their MyKad. That problem is now settled, but her youngest son, being born out of a rape case 10 years ago, is "stateless" and is still unable to go to school.
Then there was Hana. When her case was first referred to me, she had 3 children, the 1st child with a different father's name, the 3rd child with a different father's name, and the 2nd child without a father's name. After we helped them out with the children's education etc, and her family's life seemed to be more stable, Hana quietly remarried, this time with a young jobless guy only 3 years older than her eldest daughter. They then had baby, and with the husband still without a job, Hana was back to being financially burdened with 2 additional mouths to feed (the baby AND the husband). And when her husband was accused of molesting a young girl in their kampong, Hana (who never even told me about her latest marriage) had the cheek to seek my help to get a lawyer for her husband! <sigh>
Finally there's Salmah, whose first marriage failed. Both then remarried, but since the out-of-court divorce was not officially registered, there was no black & white. No problem for her ex-husband to remarry, but since Salmah herself was on paper still "married", technically she couldn't remarry. Well at least not in Malaysia. Salmah then took the "short cut" - she married her 2nd husband in Thailand. Her divorce was still not "official" by the time she gave birth to her 4th child (fathered by her 2nd husband), so again she took the easy way out, in the child's birth cert, her first husband was named as the father.
Salmah was infected with HIV by her first husband, and she then infected her 2nd husband. Now her husband needs to start treatment. So what's the problem? He's an Indonesian citizen. Treatment is not free for non-citizens, unless they're married to Malaysian citizens. He is married to a Malaysian citizen, so there shouldn't be a problem, right? Fuzi didn't have problem getting free treatment using the Thai marriage cert after her husband passed away. Apparently, in Salmah's case, her ex-husband somehow managed to get hold of her Thai marriage cert, and tore it apart. Without that marriage cert, Salmah's present husband is unable to get free treatment (and HIV drugs are not cheap).
By now the divorce of her first marriage has been officially recorded, and Salmah shouldn't have any problem remarrying. We suggested to her to officially have her akad nikah with her present husband, here in Malaysia. Solve the problem once and for all. Easy, right?
Wrong. Apparently her present husband is here in Malaysia without a permit. <smacks forehead>
If you have been following my blog from the beginning (since I started blogging in 2007), you'd surely know there had been many other problems and complications faced by my clients. The above were just a few examples. Sometimes I can't help wondering why some people get themselves into the mess when it could have been avoided. For some, maybe it wasn't really their doing (like the one without a birth cert after 20 years), but for some others, the situations they faced were avoidable. The "easy way out" they chose turned out to be even more complicated than they could ever imagine.