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Monday, 9 April 2007

The problematic young woman - Part 1

When I first met Zana during one of my clinic duties, she was rather quiet. She didn’t say much, but she did say she had support from her family. That was more than 2 years ago.

Zana is 25 years old. She was married to a guy who eventually became hooked on drugs. They were blessed with a child. The girl is now 5 years of age.

When Zana’s husband died about 2 1/2 years ago, they suspected he had AIDS. So Zana’s family told her to go for tests, together with her daughter. Her daughter was tested negative, but Zana was not as lucky. She was then referred to the HIV clinic, and that was when I met her.

I was assigned as Zana’s buddy, and after the clinic, I managed to call her once to find out how she was doing, and she said she was okay. No problems whatsover, so she said.

After a few months I could no longer get through the number she gave. So I lost contact with her for a while. That was some sort of a blessing for me I guess, as at that time I was too busy with Rose, who was getting weaker and weaker by the day.

Just one week after Rose died, I received one SMS from an unfamiliar number. It was Zana, who said she had some problems and needed to see me. So I promised to meet up with her the next day, at a food stall near her home.

Zana said her handbag got snatched, and so she lost her handphone, her hospital card and other important documents. No wonder I couldn’t get hold of her earlier. And because of that too, she missed her hospital appointments, as she had forgotten the exact date of her appointment. Being somehow a bit immature, Zana was afraid she may get scolded if she went to the hospital without her hospital card etc, and especially so since she missed her appointment. She asked if I could help her out as she needed to see the doctor. It was during this time that I found out that Zana was no longer staying with her parents. Instead she stayed with her so-called mak angkat, in the very same kampong. However, Zana from time to time would go back to her parents home to visit her daughter, who was being taken care of by her (Zana’s) parents.

I made arrangements with the staff nurse at the HIV clinic to fix another appointment for Zana. But as I mentioned earlier, Zana is rather immature, and careless too if I may add. She lost her handbag again, together with her new hospital card. So she decided to give her appointment a miss because she’s afraid she may get a scolding from the nurse.

I just so happened to check on her that morning to make sure she didn’t miss her appointment. But to my disappointment, when I called she was at home – giving the excuse that she didn’t feel well enough to go. I offered to fetch her at home and drive her to the hospital. She didn’t have any other excuse to offer, so she had to follow me.

When I fetched her at home, somehow I suspected that she may be pregnant. Her husband died quite some time ago and she had not remarried. Since she didn’t say anything, I just kept quiet.

After her check-up, the staff nurse called me in to discuss Zana’s attitude problem. Zana’s CD4 was already below 200 and she should already be on medication, but the nurse was not too confident that Zana would be the compliant type. Anyway, I noted down the date of Zana’s next appointment so I could check on her when the time comes.

Just a week later, I got another SMS from Zana. This time she asked if I could find a shelter home for her to stay as she needed to get out of the house by the next day. This time I became even more suspicious. When I called her to ask what was actually going on, initially she didn’t want to say anything about her pregnancy. All she said was, “Entahlah kak, diorang nak saya keluar dari rumah ni.” She had told me earlier that her mak angkat knew about her HIV status, so she couldn’t have been asked to leave because of HIV. I pestered her to tell me truth if she wanted me to help her. Finally she admitted, “Sebenarnya saya mengandung, kak.”

Hah! I knew it!! I felt like slapping her (but I couldn’t even if I wanted to as we were just communicating by phone), not only because she got pregnant out of wedlock, but also because she knew very well she had HIV and what the consequences were, and yet.... SIGH!! But come to think of it, Zana was looking for “love” outside as she didn’t get enough love at home. When someone offered her the so-called “love”, somehow she felt wanted. She didn’t think about her future, all she cared about was what she could get hold of there and then.

Well, I guess that was disaster for both Zana and whoever the guy was. Zana got pregnant, and the guy, could have got infected with HIV. We couldn’t get hold of him to arrange for tests as Zana herself had by then lost contact with him.

My main concern then was not just to find a shelter home for Zana, but I needed to bring her to see the doctor again. There was another life for concern here, and I sure didn’t want the baby to get infected. If Zana had kept quiet to the very end, ran away somewhere without getting proper treatment not just for her HIV but also for her pregnancy, chances were the baby would be infected too.

There weren’t any shelter homes in Perak specifically for Muslim women. Well, yes, there were a few, but they were either only for teenagers with problems, or, the ones for women were not ready to accept HIV positive people. I had no choice but to resort to MAC for help. The people there were very helpful in getting a place for Zana in a shelter home in KL, specifically for HIV women and children. Okay, so problem on a place to stay was settled.

Next day, first thing in the morning I called up the nurse at the HIV clinic to arrange for immediate appointment for Zana. The nurse was shocked when I told her Zana was pregnant. She told me to immediately bring Zana to see the doctor. Luckily the specialist so happened to be in that day. It was a Friday and usually the doctor would only be around at the HIV clinic on Wednesdays.

Zana was told to start medication immediately to protect the baby. And as I needed to send her to KL the next day, all the necessary referral letters were passed to me, so I could pass them to whoever was in charge of the shelter home in KL.

That Saturday, I sent Zana to the shelter home in KL. And so began a new episode in Zana’s life, together with a few other infected women and children.


Unknown said...

definitely you a strong will power Pi. It's not easy dealing with voluntary work such as yours. It takes a lot of guts and courage.

Pi Bani said...

Raden, wait till you read the second part of this story...

david santos said...

Hello, Pi Bani!
Thanks for you work, is very good, and have a good week.

Monster Mom said...

I guess there more "Zana"s all around Malaysia...
Sad but true scenario...
Zana is fortunate to have you around Pi.... thanx on behalf of her...

Pi Bani said...

Hi David, thanks for your kind words, and thanks for dropping by.

Monster Mom, you are right, there are so many other "Zana"s in Malaysia. And it's difficult to help them when their own families have given up on them.


goodness, Pi...

Reading your posting makes my heart pump so fast --- dont know if its because i can feel your pace or due to Zana.

The trouble, Pi, is that there are more Zana's than there are Pi's.

No. not everybody or anybody can do what you are doing.

I marvel at what you do...
Thank God for people like you that people like Zana can be helped.