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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Friday, 6 April 2007

More house visits, more welfare woes

I was at my office on Wednesday afternoon when a call came in on my handphone. It was the general ringtone – meaning the caller’s number is not registered on my phone. Sometimes if I hear that ringtone, when I answer the call, the caller will ask, “Adelyn please?” or “Zul ada?” or “Ms Chong?” Hmmph… wrong number…

But that day, when I answered the call, the girl at the other end of the line said, “Makcik, ni Wina. Susu adik dah habis!”

HUH?? Alamak…

Wina is actually the 12 year old daughter of Fuzi, one of my PLWHA clients. She called from a public phone at her school, which is why the number is not in my handphone. And the “adik” she meant was Iwan, Fuzi’s 10 month old baby boy.

Since Fuzi is not working and she can’t breastfeed her baby, I’d usually visit her on a monthly basis to send some groceries and baby’s necessities. I thought I could wait till next week but looks like they ran out of milk powder earlier than I thought. I promised the girl I’d go visit them the next day.

Then I remembered another lady, Yah, who is also a non-working single mother. She too has a baby, a 9 month old girl. Used to visit her quite regularly, but since her husband died end of last year, Yah and her children moved to her parent’s home further up north – about 130kms away from Ipoh - which makes it rather difficult for me to visit regularly. So I immediately called her up to ask how she’s doing.

As expected, Yah too ran out of milk powder for her baby, so she had no choice but to buy some using the RM160 she gets monthly courtesy of MAC. I asked if there was any news from the Welfare Department as she had already submitted her application personally in early January. Yah said since she did not receive any news from them, she went to the welfare office again some time in February to follow up. Guess what?? She was told they never received her application. Oh dear… then what on earth was she doing in their office in January? Paying them a courtesy visit?!

Yah had no choice but to submit a new application. I asked her for the name of the officer in charge and promised her I’d try to follow up on the matter. I also promised her I’ll try to visit her next weekend as I’ll be away elsewhere this weekend.

Anyway, since Fuzi stays nearer, I went to visit her yesterday. Brought along a whole load of groceries, milk powder, diapers and whatever else I managed to get from various donors. This time I made it a point to drop by a fast food outlet to buy something for the children.

The children were smiling from ear to ear when they saw me… they knew there’d be something for them, not just for their baby brother.

Fuzi’s application for welfare aid had already been approved (of RM115 a month) and she had already received some money in February – handed over by hand. The welfare officers then asked her to open up a bank account so that future financial aid beginning March can be banked in direct. Bank account done in February, and account number submitted to welfare department immediately.

But yesterday was already the 5th of April, and according to Fuzi she has gone to the bank to check, but her financial aid for March was not in yet. Again, I promised Fuzi I’d try to follow up on the matter.

Immediately after visiting Fuzi, I went direct to my NGO centre. A few of the board members would meet there every Thursdays around 4 pm in case there’s anything that needs to be discussed urgently and cannot wait for the monthly board meeting. My colleague who is handling clients’ welfare was there so I told him about the problems of my 2 clients.

He immediately rang up the welfare office. First, for Yah, he had to call the welfare office at the district where Yah stays. Good news… Yah’s application has been approved, and she’s getting RM400 a month under Bantuan Kanak-kanak. Alhamdulillah. But payment is only expected in May. I do hope it won’t be later than that.

Then, another call was made to the welfare office covering the district where Fuzi stays. And the answer we got? The money is there but they are all very busy and nobody has the time yet to channel the money to the various recipients’ bank accounts.

Oh dear me… haven’t they heard of this thing called “system”?

I wonder what their reaction would be if until today their salaries for March is still not in. And what if they enquire the relevant department and the answer they get is “Semua orang busy, tak sempat nak masukkan gaji lagi.” Sure kecoh satu Malaysia!

But since the poor are helpless, such excuses are still being used.

First world facility, third world mentality?


Kak Teh said...

Pi Bani, when i come across stories like this, I have to be thankful for what I have and betul2 rasa insaf. Banyak lagi orang yang kekurangan itu ini. Also, reading about cases like these, I cant help comparing them to those in UK who are so pampered and get all sorts of benefits. God bless you and yr dedication in helping them!

Pi Bani said...

Kak Teh, that's why I keep doing what I do - so that I will be continuously reminded that there are too many things I have to be thankful for in my own life despite all the setbacks. I wish there is something more systematic for the needy here in Malaysia. We do have lots of resources... other than welfare, there's Baitulmal. Bukan takde duit... tapi red tape aduuuh...

Unknown said...

Salam Pi,

It was nice meeting up again at the AGM. Pity we were so busy but was so glad we had better tete-a-tete at the ladies, typical us..hee hee. Dulu masa futsal pun jumjpa kat ladies juga..ha ha. Pi keep up the good work. You have amazing energy and dedication, not many have and sincere too. Luv ya lots.

Pi Bani said...

Yes K.Ruby, nice meeting up with you too. Hopefully next time we meet taklah rush sangat...



How sad.. so so sad.
Only RM115 for a woman with kids. to fed her kids. RM115 and she has to "beg" to these officers.

Pi, I may want to post you story in my blog. Would you mind?

Pi Bani said...

No problem. The story is meant to be shared anyway.

KH Lim Blogs said...

Please check your email.