THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)
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Sunday, 25 March 2007

House visits over the weekend

I keep a log book to jot down details of all my contacts with my PLWHA clients. Whether they are telephone calls, house visits or outside meets, I jot them all down. I’m not really an organized person (you should see the table beside my computer table at home – it’s a MESS!), and I was never the type who kept a personal diary either. But I needed the log book so that I wouldn’t forget whatever follow-up actions that I needed to take. And so that I’d remember when my next house visit is due – especially for families with babies to whom I need to send supplies of milk powder and diapers. Furthermore I’d need to write a contact report every month for my NGO’s records.

And no, the log book is needed not because I have a lack of memory! It’s just… just… oh well… a surplus of forgetfulness… ;-)

I will be doing one house visit today. I am going to visit Shah’s family. Will bring along some diapers and groceries donated by some good Samaritans… and the milk powder I managed to “hijack” from private clinics, you know… the free samples they usually get in boxes. Rather than keeping the milk powder in their clinics until they expire, might as well give them to me and I’ll distribute them to the needy families. I will also need to hand over this month’s bus fares for the schooling children – it is covered by my NGO’s Children Education Fund.

Yesterday however was a slightly different visit. It had nothing to do with my HIV work, so I don’t have to report this one to my NGO. With my new friend whom I just got to know a few days ago through the blogosphere, I went to visit little Aisya. Yes, I went with the person who highlighted the story in the first place, Daphne Ling, who so happened to be back in Ipoh over the weekend to hand over the contributions collected from her college mates.

When we (Daphne, her parents and I) reached the house, Syazwan, the couple’s 7 year old son was helping his father wash the car. Little Aisya, as usual, was being cuddled by her mom, Hayati. She’d never let her mom go. She may not be able to see, but she knows very well her mother’s touch.

One glance, the family seemed to be doing okay. They have a house to live in and they have a car. That’s the impression you get if you don’t know their story. That’s the excuse given when their application for financial aid was rejected – they have a house and a car. The rationale – if the family is really going through hard times because of Aisya’s condition, then they should sell either the house or the car!

Sell the house? Then what? To rent a house they’d need to pay rental. That still requires money. Bad idea. Okay, so sell the car. Right… that means they need to use public transportation to bring Aisya for her hospital appointments – including the appointments in KL. Uhhh… not a good idea either. They have to bring along so many things including some medical equipments for Aisya wherever they bring her… and with Aisya’s condition, it won’t be easy!

The house and the car were bought when Shahidan (Aisya’s father) was still working. Due to Aisya’s medical treatment, he had to take leave from work quite often. As a result he got sacked – without compassion.

But this is a strong family. They are not simply sitting down doing nothing waiting for people’s sympathy. They are not about to leave everything to fate.

Shahidan however has had it with working for others. Aisya still needs a lot of medical attention and that means if employed, Shahidan will still need to take leave quite often. So they (Shahidan & Hayati) have decided to do a small business of their own – from home.

We had the chance to taste some home-made pizza – Hayati makes really nice pizzas! Daphne even had a second helping (Sorry Daphne for telling the whole world… Ha! Ha!). Yes, they sell pizzas… and dadih (curd) – cappuccino and strawberry flavour – also home made… by Hayati herself! Wow!

Shahidan will be attending an entrepreneurial course by MARA soon. Hopefully after that he will be able to run a more proper business – with financial help from MARA.

They are going through difficult times at the moment, especially with Aisya being a “high-maintenance” child, but with their determination, I believe they will survive. They are grateful to all donors, most of whom have remained anonymous, whose contributions have not only lessened their financial burden, but have also given them some hope. Most of all, they are very grateful to Daphne who highlighted their story. Before this, they said, nobody seemed to care. But after Daphne highlighted their plight, contributions started to come in for little darling Aisya.

Indeed Daphne had done a good job. Mind you, she’s only 21 and she has already made a difference. Me? I am only s l i g h t l y more than… DOUBLE her age… :-)

Now, what had I done for the community when I was 21? Allow me to list them down… let’s see… hmmm…. Aiyah! Nothing lah… all I cared about back then was myself…


Anonymous said...

dear pi bani,
i have just stumbled across your blog, when reading marina mahathir's. congratulations for the work you are doing as this country needs people like yu who give your time and energy unconditionally, espceially in the field of AIDS and HIV. I was most touched reading about you and daphne visiting aisya, and i could not belive my eyes that she is only 21! i guess we do have hope in this country. after all, if a 21 yr old daphne can do so much, imagine what a 40 yr old daphme can do! it wud be even greater if we had a few of her, right? and of course, a few more of you! surely, a better malaysia.

Anonymous said...

oooops i forgot this.incidentally, couldn't you guys-as in you and/or daphne-highlight this fund raise effort in the newspapers? not many people have blogs or read blogs or have access to net. it was Star Mag who carried Aisyah's story right originally? wy dont go back to them and ask them start a campaign or pormote your campaign? maybe you should talk to star mag though because they might nt listen if daphne goes to them since she's so young. i know she means good and is great, but she wont be able to speak like an adult does and carry the message?

Pi Bani said...

Hi Joanne,
I think Daphne has better contacts at the Star. After all, older doesn't necessarily mean wiser... especially when the grey matter has been covered with grey hair... :-)

Anyway, point noted. Will see what we can do.

Meanwhile, we can do our part by forwarding Aisya's story by email to all our contacts.

Anonymous said...

i agree older doesnt mean wiser. but it would look more credible if an adult talks to them? im 26 and i tried calling them once and they diddnt even bother to entertain me. and i really dont understand what u mean by daphne has better contacts in the star. any way, it was just an suggestion.
P.S.: I forwarded to my friends

Pi Bani said...

Daphne is THE Daphne Ling who WROTE the original story in the Star. That's why I said she has better contacts there.

But that aside, yes, I do get your point.

Anonymous said...

You know how they say that it only takes one person to effect change? It's true. All it took was for young Daphne to stand up and highlight Aisya's plight to the community and to take the extra effort to contact prominent bloggers to do the same. Truly commendable. Im posting this on Daphne's blog too.

Pi Bani said...

You are so right. Who would have thought that a 21 yr old can do so much...

That's why when Joanne suggested that the matter be brought up in the papers, I thought Daphne would still be the best person to do it. Of course I will give her all my support and back her up if need be.

But, having discussed this matter with Daphne, we both feel that it may not be the best thing to do at the moment. The family needs help to get back on their feet - but Aisya is not in need of immediate surgery. What Aisya doesn't need most right now is having too many strangers coming to her house - she's terrified of strangers (she can't see but she can tell!) and highlighting this fundraising thing in the papers may result in so many parties wanting to contribute (which is good) and highlighting their contribution by visiting the family and calling the media along (which is bad for Aisya who will then become some sort of showcase).

Daphne (and I will support her from behind) will follow up on this case from time to time I'm sure, so we'll see...

So, youngsters out there... you CAN make a difference!