3rd December 2018 - My first back-to-school-shopping for the year started off with round 1 in Gerik. This was the first time I decided to go to Gerik for BTSS, not only because there are 5 children covered by Buddies in that area, but also due to the fact that 2 of them were Orang Asli girls who needed at least 2 hours to get from their kampong to Gerik town (their mode of transportation included a boat). Anyway, the 5 children in Gerik were from 3 different families. I told them to meet me at the supermarket at 11 am, and they were all punctual.
Round 1 of BTSS : RM733.70
After completing BTSS for the Gerik group, I stopped by Kuala Kangsar on my way back for round 2, to cover 3 more children from 2 families. The specified time was 2 pm, but both families were not punctual. The first client at least did send a text message to tell me she was on the way, and when she finally arrived, she did apologise. Apparently she had to be elsewhere in the morning and had to rush to meet me at the supermarket. The other client was 40 minutes late, no excuses given and didn't even bother to apologise. The moment she saw me, she just smiled and asked, "Dah lama tunggu?" like it was no big deal. I gave her a piece of my mind! The only reason I was still there at the supermarket was because the other family hadn't finished shopping. Otherwise I would have just left.
Round 2 of BTSS : RM581.20
6th December 2018 - I was on clinic duty in Taiping in the morning, and so I decided to arrange for BTSS for the Taiping group to be held on the same day, to save on mileage. This was the biggest group I had to cover. Not wanting the clients to take their own sweet time to come (like the one in Kuala Kangsar earlier), I sent them a reminder one day earlier, asking them to be punctual. And yes, this time, all 7 families were punctual. While most of them were very careful not to overspend (even though they didn't have to pay), I noticed one family with 4 schooling children whose trolley was overloaded with stuff. I reminded her of the budget given per child, and that if their total amount exceeded the budget, they'd have to pay on their own. True enough, while the other families didn't have to calculate the total amount that had to be paid for their children (none of them exceeded the budget), this particular family took a while to calculate everything, took out some items from the trolley (obviously they had exceeded the budget), recalculate, took out more items, and recalculate again.
Round 3 of BTSS : RM2,927.80
Monday 10th December 2018 - This time I was on clinic duty in Ipoh in the morning, so I decided to arrange for the Ipoh group BTSS in the afternoon. While the Ipoh group used to be one of my bigger groups for BTSS, this time there were only 3 children from 2 families. When I arrived at the hypermarket, I almost regretted my decision to have the BTSS at that time. There were so many people shopping for their children's back-to-school needs at the very same time, people had to be really careful moving around, otherwise someone may get hit by a trolley! Thank goodness I only had 2 families to cover, otherwise it would have been even more difficult, not only to choose the items, but also to pay at the cashier. The queue at every single counter was extra long. Anyway, 2 of the 3 children from the Ipoh group will be sitting for their SPM next year, so I guess for next year's BTSS, there will be only one child left (unless I get new cases of hiv affected children needing schooling assistance by then). If that is so, then I may consider combining the child with another group for BTSS, maybe the Batu Gajah group.
Round 4 of BTSS : RM911.60
Tuesday 11th December 2018 - Another day to cover for 2 more rounds of BTSS. Headed over to Slim River in the morning to cover 2 children from 2 families. Initially another family was also supposed to join, but at the very last minute she told me her children "balik kampung" and were unable to join (and she didn't bother to tell me until I asked). I thought I had estimated enough time for the 2 who came, but while one of them didn't take long to choose the needed items, for the other family, the mother took her own sweet time to pick and choose the items for her son. I can understand more time needed for the uniforms and the shoes, but she even took quite a while to choose a belt (when the belts were all of the same size, colour and material). I had to remind her time and again that I had to rush off to Kampar for the next group.
Round 5 of BTSS : RM383.25
After paying for the Slim River group, I rushed off to Kampar for the next group. I thought I had ample time to have my lunch and prayer before starting off for this group, but I only had enough time to perform my prayer. By the time I got out of the prayer room, it was almost 2 pm and one family had already arrived. So yep, had to postpone my lunch. Another family came not long after, while the third client of mine sent a text message saying she was on the way but she may be late as she just got back from visiting her father-in-law who was ill. I told her that after paying for the 2 families, I'd go have my lunch first. She arrived just as I finished my lunch, so yes, I continued for one more child after my lunch.
Round 6 of BTSS : RM728.20
Wednesday 12th December 2018 - One final round of BTSS, this time for 5 children from 4 families from the Batu Gajah group. One of the children only took a pair of shoes and some stationeries, because she said she could still wear her old uniforms and bag. More importantly, because she needed the balance of the budgeted amount to pay for her hostel fees. Another child, a 12 year old boy, came in his kain pelekat as he just had his circumcision 2 days earlier. He came with his father, on a motorbike. His father left him there, and then went home to fetch the boy's grandma, to help the boy choose his uniforms, shoes, etc. His mother is no longer around.
Round 7 of BTSS : RM1,028.45
So yeah! I'm done with this year's BTSS. Time to submit my claims!