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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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Moving again?

With 2 events to attend this coming weekend, this week is quite a busy week for me. Other than having to ensure the overall smooth running of our Family Day on Sunday, most of the attendees will be my clients and so I’ve got to make quite a number of calls to remind them of the event and to inform them on the where, when and whatever else. And I’ve got to make sure things are settled by Friday, because on Saturday I’d have to go to Putrajaya to attend the MGC/TKC OGA AGM. This one I need to attend as there will be committee elections this year and one sure way of not becoming elected is to agree to become the “election officer”. Otherwise there are bound to be people who’d approach me and say, “I nominate your name ok?”

It is also nearing the end of the month, which means it is also time for my monthly grocery delivery. I needed to remind Sofie anyway of what time I’d be fetching them on Sunday morning, so today I went to first buy the groceries, called Sofie to make sure she’s home and then immediately headed to her house.

Saiful helped me to carry the groceries down from my car, while Ika was having her bath. “Kelam-kabut dia bangun dengar kata akak nak datang tadi,” said Sofie.

Anyway, Sofie told me that her sister, who stays with her and with whom she’s been sharing to pay the house rental of RM250, was offered free accommodation by her employer at her workplace. That would of course save a her a lot of money – no rental to pay, and cut costs on transportation too as the accommodation is right behind the factory where she works.

Good for Sofie’s sister, but now Sofie has a problem. She simply cannot afford to pay RM250 per month alone. “Saya dengan anak-anak nak makan apa nanti kak?”

Sofie doesn’t have a job. Every time she felt better she’d try getting herself a job and ended up with all sorts of medical complications as she is not really fit yet. Her only source of income now (other than the RM200 financial aid we’ve arranged for her) is by taking orders to cook food or kuih-muih. She cooks at home and the customers would come and get the food from her home. But it’s not fixed, and it’s not consistent either.

Poor Sofie. When I first met her, she was so weak and poor she had no choice but to seek refuge at her eldest sister’s house. She was so weak, whenever I visited, she was most of the time lying down on a mattress. I started arranging for various assistance for her – groceries, bicycles for the children etc. Apparently, most of the assistance were misused by her sister’s family. Sofie could still tolerate that, but when the sister’s family including the children started saying harsh things about Sofie and her children, Sofie simply couldn’t take it any longer. I noticed whenever I visited, Sofie’s children didn’t talk much either.

Then when I managed to get additional financial assistance for Sofie, she finally moved to another house within the same neighbourhood. The rental was RM150, and the condition of the house was rather bad, but the children seemed happier the moment they moved out of their aunt’s house.

But things didn’t end there. Not satisfied that she could no longer “tumpang” the aid Sofie was getting, the sister started telling the neighbourhood that Sofie had HIV. In addition to that, the landlord didn’t bother to repair whatever that was faulty in the house. The chance to move out finally came, when a more sympathetic sister moved to Perak to stay with Sofie and so they found a better house with a rental of RM250 – shared equally by both.

It seemed okay for a while at that house, until the landlord started charging them unbelievably high water charges. You see, the landlord built a row of houses – all sharing the same water meter and so the landlord would bill them every month for the water usage for the whole block of houses he built. The thing was, at that time, the landlord was also building another row of houses using the same water meter. Surely the high usage of water would come mostly from the construction right? But the landlord billed the tenants who were there. Who could tahan being billed RM200 per month for water?!

So yes, they moved again. This time to a much better and bigger house, with the same rental rate of RM250, and with individual electricity and water bills, therefore they ddn’t have to worry about being charged for electricity or water which they didn’t use. The house is also nearer to Ipoh and so it had been easier for me to visit them regularly on monthly basis. Things seemed much better for Sofie.

That was until recently when Sofie’s sister was offered free accommodation by her employer. The accommodation is right behind the factory where she works. Of course, Sofie’s sister couldn’t resist the offer. She not only gets to save on rental, but also transportation!

The problem now is Sofie simply cannot afford to pay a rental of RM250 all by herself. Like it or not, she needs to find a cheaper house to rent. But where? She did tell me that she had gone looking for houses to rent but so far the cheapest she could find was RM200/month but not practical location-wise. Seriously, if she wants to reduce the rent by just RM50 but at same time she has to spend more on other things (like transportation etc), then it’s probably not worth it. Sofie had been eyeing a particular house she felt was practical but had yet to speak to the landlord. So she didn’t know what the rental was like.

Later when I got home, Sofie called. She said she finally managed to speak to the landlord of the house that she had been eyeing, and the landlord agreed to rent it out to her for RM150/month.

Macam mana kak? Boleh tak saya pindah sana?” Whoah… why did she sound like she needed my permission to move to that house? Told her it was her decision. To me, as long as she doesn’t get into difficulty getting transportation for the children to go to school, and for her to go to the hospital, I’d support her decision.

Chances are this Sunday will be the last I’d be fetching her at the present house before Sofie and her children move again…

Monday, 27 June 2011

The young mother

When Zalia called on Saturday, saying she’d be going to the hospital on Monday morning for her blood tests, I figured I might as well see her then. So I asked her what time she expected to be done with her blood test, she said she should finish rather early as she needed to fast before her blood is taken, and so she intended to be there by 8 am. I told her to wait for me in front of the doctor’s room of the HIV clinic at 9.30 am. It would be difficult for us to recognise each other if we were to meet elsewhere.

By 9 am I was already at the hospital. Went straight to the doctor’s room and when the nurse saw me, she said, “Eh, hari ni takde kes!” The doctor was supposed to attend a meeting and so all appointments for the day were postponed to another day, and even the staff nurse took leave. When I told the nurse that I was there to see Zalia, and I asked her if Zalia was already outside the room, the nurse took a peek outside the door, even called out Zalia’s name, but nope, she wasn’t there.

So I decided to call Zalia to tell her I was already there. According to Zalia she was still waiting for her turn.

While waiting for Zalia to come up, I asked the nurse for Zalia’s file so I could get her details. When SN called me last week to refer Zalia’s case to me, and she told me that Zalia stays with her mak angkat instead of her own mother, I had actually expected Zalia to be one of those problematic young ladies. True enough, when I read through her file, indeed she had gone through such a problematic life as a teenager.

Raped at 15 by different people – unreported. Raped at 16 by her boyfriend, got pregnant, did D&C, again unreported. Stopped schooling and didn’t even complete form 5. Got pregnant again, this time she was married off to the boyfriend. And she gave birth at 18 to a baby girl. It was during this pregnancy that she found out she had HIV. From the file I noticed that her case was referred to Buddies in 2009 (I wasn’t on duty then) but was not assigned any Buddies. I guess at that time she was with her husband and they probably felt they didn’t need our services. Now she is divorced, and that was why she came to seek help from SN last week and so SN called me up to refer her case to me.

After taking down all her details from the file, it was already 9.45 am but Zalia had still not come up yet. The nurse went out to get a drink for herself and so there I was all alone at the doctor’s room. Hehehe… macam doctor le pulak! I called Zalia again, and she said her turn was 3 numbers away. So I told her to come in straight to the doctor’s room once she’s done instead of waiting outside the room as mentioned earlier.

After a while, I heard a knock on the door before a young woman opened the door. “Kak Afizah?” she asked. It was Zalia. Called her in to sit beside me and we started chatting.

After her divorce, Zalia stayed with her parents, but after a while she stayied with her mak angkat because “ada konflik sikit dengan mak”, she said. Zalia herself did work for a while last year but for the moment she’s not working and is still looking around for a job.

When I asked who had been supporting her child, she said the child is being taken care by her parents but her parents had been grumbling about her not contributing anything to the child’s needs.

Apparently the conflict between Zalia and her mother started when Zalia wanted to marry another guy after her divorce, and her mother didn’t approve of this guy.

Kenapa mak tak suka?” I asked.

Sebab boyfriend saya ni panas baran sikit.”

Laahai, dah tau dia panas baran pun awak nak jugak kawin dengan dia?”

Hati dia baik kak. Dia terima saya walau tau saya ada HIV.”

Ahh… but of course, before marriage even kentut pun wangi kaaan

The mother had also been nagging her to get some assistance for the child’s upbringing. Zalia’s parents are not well to do, and with 2 of Zalia’s younger siblings still schooling, buying diapers and milk for their grandchild can be quite a burden. Which is why Zalia is now looking around for assistance while she can find herself a job and get back on her feet.

Tak nak ke jaga anak tu sendiri?” I asked again.

Nak, tapi tak mampu, nak buat macam mana?”

Habis tu, tak nak balik dok dengan mak? Boleh jaga anak sekali.”

Saya tak berani la kak. Rindu sangat dengan anak tapi tak berani nak balik.”

I promised Zalia I’d try to get supplies of diapers and milks powder for her daughter, but where was I to send the stuff if I get them? Send them to Zalia, her child is not staying with her. Zalia said I could send them direct to her mother, but her mother doesn’t even know me. So I asked Zalia if she’d come along with me to her mother’s house during my first visit. Other than sending the stuff for her child’s use, Zalia would be able to see both her daughter and her mother as well.

Zalia agreed to my idea. Which means she actually wants to go home but afraid to.

Well, all that will have to wait until after next week. Will be busy this week to ensure our Family Day on Sunday runs smoothly. I’d need to call my clients to remind them of where and when to wait, or if they are going on their own, how to get to the place. As of this moment I am still trying to figure out who will be fetching 2 more families…

Saturday, 25 June 2011

2 more women to check on…

I was getting ready to go out on Thursday morning when a call came in from SN at the HIV clinic. In front of her at the clinic was a young single mother with a 2 year old child who needed help. We only send volunteers to the HIV clinic on Wednesdays, so on that particular day, none of our volunteers were at the hospital.

Knowing SN, she’d usually only call me direct to refer me a case if it was a real desperate case. From the basic info I got from SN, yes, I agree this lady may be quite desperate.

The lady, Zalia, just recently got divorced, and the ex-husband just left like that without leaving her anything or giving any financial support for the child. Zalia is not working, and therefore cannot afford to buy all the diapers and milk for her child. SN asked if Buddies could help her out.

I told SN we can try to help, but I’d need to visit her first to assess her situation. We can’t simply give her assistance just by listening to her story. Some people want help but become reluctant when we ask if we could visit them at home.

I heard SN asking the young mother if she’d allow me to visit her at home. Well, not her home exactly. It seems she’s staying with her “mak angkat” instead of her own mother. Hmmm… does she have a problem with her own family?

I am not going to assume anything as yet. Zalia has allowed me to visit her, so probably one of the days this coming week, I may give her a call and visit her to get more info about her.

Yesterday, as I was driving at the PLUS expressway on my way to KL, a call came in on my handphone. When I answered the call, I heard a lady’s voice, “Ni Puan Afizah ke dari…. errrrr…. badis ke budis?” Hehehe… another one of those who’s not sure how to pronounce Buddies, but at least she bothered to ask how it’s pronounced rather than some people who’d straight away pronounce it as Buddhist…

I couldn’t hear her too well at the expressway and using my bluetooth to answer, so I told her I’d call her back when it’s more convenient. So yes, since I needed to do a pit-stop… errr…. pee-stop at Ulu Bernam, I decided to return her call then.

The lady who called me wasn’t the one who is HIV infected. It’s her sister, Mimi. Mimi’s husband passed away some time back, and her 2 children are grown up (in their early 20’s). At one time, Mimi was bedridden and all the while she had been taken care of by her sister, the one who called me. So no, Mimi definitely doesn’t need our help under children education.

According to the sister, Mimi can at times be very difficult. When she feels down, she thinks everyone hates her and she starts asking why she’s not dead yet. Although the sister tries her very best to understand and empathise, sometimes it is stressful for her as well. She has her own family to take care of, (and luckily her husband understands and doesn’t mind that she’s taking care of her sister) and when Mimi becomes difficult to please, then she too would feel so stressed out. She can’t let things out by simply talking things out with anybody, since Mimi has HIV, which is a very sensitive issue. So when she found out about Buddies, she thought she might as well give it a try.

I asked if it was alright if I visit them at home. I mean, Mimi may not be too pleased that her sister had told someone else about her HIV. According to the sister, just say that SN was the one who asked me to check on her case. Mimi usually listens to SN more than anyone else.

I promised Mimi’s sister I’d try to visit them after next weekend. Will be pretty busy this coming week, with an AGM to attend in Putrajaya on Saturday and our Family Day on Sunday, plus I’d need to slot in one of the days within the week to visit the young single mother with the 2 year old child since their case sounds more urgent.

Ooops… just as I was typing this post, Zalia called and asked when we could meet. She sounded rather desperate. Since she needs to go to the hospital on Monday for her blood test, I told her to wait for me at the hospital after her blood test is done.

So yes, on Monday I’ve got a date with Zalia…

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Another day at the clinic

As I got to the main entrance of Ipoh GH this morning, I knew finding a parking space would be tough. I didn’t even bother trying to find a nearby parking space… I just went one round and straight away I went to park my car where nobody would go to unless they had to. It was quite a walking distance, but since I was no longer limping, I figured the much needed exercise would do me good.

I didn’t have a chance to sit yet when the nurse told me that a client wanted to see me. Not a new case, but an old case. The lady Shanti, had been receiving our assistance earlier under the Children Education Fund for their back-to-school expenses.

Shanti’s husband passed away a few years ago and since then she and her 3 children had been staying at her father’s house, living on her father’s pension. She worked before but now her father no longer allows her to work as she often gets into fits when she’s tired.

We managed to get her welfare aid of RM300 per month, but that’s hardly enough for her family. So she wanted to see me today to ask if we Buddies could help with her out. After listening to her, I told her we can’t help her for every single thing but we may be able to help out with the children’s school bus fares using our Children Education Fund. She seemed happy enough with that assurance.

I then checked with the nurse if there were any new cases to be referred to me. According to the nurse, there were none. But I still waited at the counselling room, hoping I may bump into any of my old clients whom I had not met for quite a while.

True enough, before long, Asiah walked in to get her supply of ARV. She handed over the slip to the pharmacist and then walked out (the pharmacist would call her in once the medication was ready). Asiah didn’t notice me. So I walked out to meet her. As we were chatting, her husband came by with their 1+ year old son. I was quite surprised that the husband actually acknowledged my presence, asked how I was doing and even said a few more words than that. Wow! That’s a whole lot of improvement. Usually, whenever I meet up with Asiah, he’d usually shy away and wait elsewhere. Even during last year’s Family Day, although he came with his family, he’d just sit by himself away from the rest.

Around 11.30 am or so, knowing that there were no new cases, I thought I might as well make a move. No point wasting my time there doing nothing. But before leaving, I went to take a peek at the area outside the doctor’s room, to see if there were any of my clients there. Sure glad I decided to take a peek… I saw Zainab there. I had been trying to get hold of her but my calls never got through. My guess was that she may no longer have a phone.

Zainab was chatting with another lady, and didn’t see me coming. So I went to stand right in front of her face. The moment she saw me, immediately she got up, gave me a hug, kissed my cheeks and said, “Ya Allah akak, lamanya tak jumpa, rindu kat akak!”

True enough, her old phone went kaput and she no longer has a phone. And since she works on shifts, it’s difficult for me to simply visit her at home. I don’t want to end up visiting her when she’s at work with only Zaki, her husband at home. Her daughter, Kakak, was warded for 10 days recently and although Zainab wanted to call me to inform me about it, she had lost my phone number.

I immediately invited her to our Family Day and after finding out the date, she immediately said yes. “Sekarang ni hari Ahad dah takde overtime dah kak,” she said. Actually she had been depending on overtime to earn extra income but of late the company where she works had not been doing too well and so there is very limited overtime given.

I asked if Zaki was still working at the same place. Somehow I wasn’t surprised when she said, “Ish, dia tu kak… mana kerja dah!” Typical of Zaki, always using his HIV as an excuse not work. Even when he finds himself a job, after a while, he’d find an excuse to quit. This wasn’t the first time – he had done so a few times already to the extent that every time he lands himself a job, the first question that comes to my mind is how long he’d last with the job.

It’s always Zainab who’s thinking of their 2 children. She too has HIV but even when she doesn’t feel too well (she also has high blood pressure), she’d be happy when she gets to do overtime for that would mean earning a bit extra for the month.

So now, Zainab pays for the rent, she pays for the food, she pays for the children’s needs. And the part I hate most, Zaki buys cigarettes using her income too. Sigh…


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mr Darling the Dalang…

Once upon a time, back in 2007, when I wrote about Yah’s episode with Mr Darling… about how he proposed to her during their first meet, about how Yah simply gave her phone number to him, and about how after that Mr Darling started calling her and sending her text messages in the middle of the night, many of my blog readers told me to let them be. They’re both adults, they said, and since they’re both HIV+, then maybe they understand each other, bla, bla, bla. You can read the posting here. I wasn’t in favour of it because to me, it meant trouble.

At that time I had not yet been introduced to Lin, Mr D’s ex-wife, who only came into the picture in late 2007, after Yah had started going angau over Mr D.

To cut the story short, when Yah sort of started to stalk Mr D, he distanced himself from her. Thank goodness. It took quite some time for Yah to regain her sanity, but now she has started working and her children are all back staying with her again. Mr D tried to coax Lin to remarry him, to no avail. So finally he ended up marrying somebody else who never came into the picture before. I’m not even sure if the lady knew of his HIV status, or if she was a PLHIV herself, all I know is that she has a daughter from her earlier marriage.

Recently, during the PLHIV gathering we organised at the Ipoh GH, Lin pulled me aside and told me about Mr D raping his stepdaughter. We couldn’t really talk much then, since there were people around, so I didn’t really get much details. During one of my clinic duties after that, I did see Mr D, but he pretended he didn’t know who I was (we only met once at Lin’s house when he went to visit his children). When I met the nurse after that, the nurse said Mr D just told her that he was no longer with his wife, without giving much details. All he said was, “Susahlah, orang dah tak nak…”

I used to visit Lin on a regular basis last year – every month without fail to deliver groceries donated by a club. But the groceries supply was only until December last year, and after that Lin’s older children began to complete their studies, with 2 of them already working now, so I don’t really have to worry about supply of groceries for the family. They can already survive on their own. So I have reduced my visits to Lin’s house so I can concentrate on other needy cases.

Well, today I went to visit Lin again. Lin and her daughters are coming for the Family Day – they now have their own transport but they don’t know the way to the venue.  So I figured the best way to explain to her how to get there is to meet her face to face. It won’t be easy explaining to her on the phone.

Oh well, since I’d need to fetch for some other families at the Ipoh bus station in the morning, Lin finally decided to wait at the bus station, and then just follow my car to the Family Day venue. Duh, that one I could have just told her on the phone…

But then again, I had not visited her at home for some time anyway, so it was still worth a visit. At least I could get more updates on her children.

I also took the opportunity to ask about Mr Darling’s case. None of her children were around, so Lin could be more open with me. Actually Lin herself knew all the story from her children since she herself did not see her ex-husband.

Lin and her children had not known that Mr Darling had to spend one whole week in the lock-up when he was remanded after his wife lodged a report against him for molesting her 14 year daughter, his stepdaughter. So one fine day, Mr Darling called his 3rd daughter, who had by then started working, to come and fetch him from the police-station. Thinking that all she had to do was to fetch him, the daughter went, only to find out that she had to BAIL him out. And so she did, albeit, reluctantly.

Mr Darling then stayed with his mother, his wife filed for divorce, and his stepdaughter taken back to her home-state, away from him.

Then one day, Mr D called his daughters asking to meet up with them, but outside, not at their grandma’s house where he’s staying. Apparently he wanted to tell them his version of the story before they heard from anybody else.

You’d probably think he’d tell them that he didn’t do anything much, that the report made to the police was brought out of proportion etc, but to my dismay, he actually told them that he stripped his stepdaughter’s clothes off to teach her a lesson… because she’s a bohsia. Only problem was he spoke in thick Perak dialect and the girls weren’t too sure of the meaning of certain words, and therefore they are not too sure if he had actually raped her, or he had inserted his fingers.

Anyway, even if he did not plead guilty to rape, he’s still guilty of molesting the girl. And even if it’s true the girl is such a bad girl, that didn’t give him the right to do what he did! And knowing his history of sleeping around with women even when he was still married to Lin, I doubt he didn’t satisfy his sex needs after seeing the girl totally naked.

What I don’t understand was how he could have told this to his own daughters – as though he didn’t do much wrong because the girl was a bad girl. She’s only 14 for heaven’s sake!!

His eldest daughter had never been fond of her father. This episode makes her hate him even more.

As it is, he is already making it sound as though his daughters “tak mengenang budi” because they don’t visit him at their grandma’s house.

Well, let’s just wait for the outcome of the case. Mr D now has to go to 2 different courts including the Syariah court for his divorce case. Not forgetting he has to report himself from time to time at the police station until the case is heard in court.

Mr Darling… Mr Darling… you can’t blame your children for staying away from you. First you gave HIV to their mother… they saw how their mother suffered right before their very eyes. And after the divorce, you didn’t bother to help them out financially either even though they are your children. And now THIS? You’re lucky they still agreed to see you when you asked to see them. Stop trying to make them feel guilty by saying they are anak durhaka. You are the one who should feel guilty, not them!

You b*****d!!


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Preparations under way…

3 weeks to go to our Family Day. Meetings are held every week now to ensure the smooth running of the whole thing. Venue has been confirmed. Now we’re waiting for the confirmation of the number of people attending before discussing on the logistics.

We’ve given everybody until Monday, 13th June to confirm attendance. My part time staff has been busy calling all volunteers, not only to confirm their own attendance, but also the attendance of their clients as well.

As of today, on my side, I already have confirmation of 50 attendees from my clients and their family members – including 19 children aged 12 and below. The other volunteers combined managed to get 10 of their clients/families to attend. Which means now we have 60 attendees not inclusive of volunteers. In my earlier confirmation with the management of our family day venue, I told them we may have about 70 attending. For the moment the figures look just about right… inclusive of volunteers. But there may be a few more additions by tomorrow.

On my side, the first few to confirm attendance were the regulars – Fuzi +5, Mrs K +5 & Aini +3. They’ve been joining our family day outing since 2007. Sofie and her children started attending last year, and looks like they too are going to be regulars. The year before, she was just referred to us, and since she was at that time too weak to even get up, she didn’t attend. Her children weren’t too familiar with me yet, and so none of them joined. However, now that the children would follow me around even without their mother coming along, I believe the children would still join with or without their mother. So with Sofie +4 that’s already 21 in numbers.

As for Lin, she had confirmed attendance, but needed time to confirm the numbers. You see, her 2 older girls who are already working could not confirm earlier if they can make it on that day. Lin had already mentioned that her 2 boys may not join. Lin plus 3 duaghters = 4. That’s a total of 25.

Yah did join our family day in 2007, but after that she went “angau” and her family went a bit haywire, she missed the event from 2008 to 2010. Well, now she has started working and her children are back with her, she will reappear at this year’s family day. Yah + 4 children. Total now 30.

Another client who just joined last year, Rin, again confirmed her attendance for this year, together with her 2 children. Total 33.

The rest from my list will be newcomers to our family day. There’s Halimah whose youngest son is now already 1 year +. Halimah will be coming with her husband and another child. That’s an additional 3… total 36.

From the north, since we are arranging for a bus from Taiping, this time we have quite a few coming. Aza +2, Jay +3, and a new client whom I have yet to meet, Elli + 3. And this morning I managed to talk to a client I met last year at Taiping Hospital, Ita, and immediately she agreed to join with her youngest child. Her other 3 children are staying in boarding schools. That makes an additional 13, total now 49.

And add to that the latest client referred to me just last Wednesday, Fadil, I now have a total of 50.

I am still waiting for replies from Rozi who had earlier indicated her interest to join but could not confirm just yet. I believe I may be able to get 4 or 5 more of my clients to come. Tomorrow I am going to make another round of calls to those who have yet to confirm.

And based on last year’s attendees, I do hope the other volunteers can get a few more clients to come as well.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A lelaki lembut & a newborn cucu…

I was on clinic duty again today. No longer limping, I wasn’t quite bothered to look for a nearby parking space. It had been quite a while since I last had any proper exercise, so yep, maybe the extra walk would do me good.

As I was walking towards the hospital, a guy riding a bicycle passed by, shouting to everyone, “WOI! TALAK OTAK PUNYA OLANG!” Not sure who he was talking about though… the people around him… or himself… ;-)

When I got to the doctor’s room, the doctor wasn’t there yet. According to the nurse, there were supposed to be 2 new cases, but both weren’t there yet. So I went over to the usual room, took out my netbook and started FB-ing to pass the time.

It was almost 11 am when finally SN came in with a new case. Fadil, a 30 year old guy, soft spoken but quite chatty I must say. Used to be a make-up artist before he fell ill, making him unable to work. Due to his family’s tendency to go to the bomoh where his own sister was said to have been “kena buatan orang”, he thought he was a similar victim too.

That was until early this year when he was hospitalised and blood tests showed he was HIV+. His CD4 then was as low as 4! He was given HAART immediately. Now his CD4 has gone up to 121, alhamdulillah. What he regretted was, the news was conveyed to his sister first, and the sister told the whole family before they conveyed the news to him. But the family seemed okay, except maybe one of his older sisters who didn’t feel comfortable eating Fadil’s cooking.

Fadil’s cooking? Ah yes, cooking is actually his first love. Yes, he used to be make-up artist when he was in KL, but after he fell ill and became too weak to work, he went back to stay with his parents. His sister, the first to find out about his HIV had even told Fadil’s friends about it, causing his friends to stay away from him now. Actually his sister’s main intention was to make him stay with his parents, but still…

So continuing as make-up artist in KL is out of the question for the time being. Since he can cook, the plan is for him to help out another sister & her husband to cook at their food stall. They were supposed to start last week, but for some reasons, it was postponed until further notice. Told him to inform me once they start business so I can go try his cooking.

Since our Family Day is coming soon, I asked Fadil if he’d like to join us. Fadil said he was interested, but “malu lah kak, nanti kot jumpa orang kenal, macam mana?” I told him there was nothing to worry about as most of those attending would be those “in the same boat” – with the exception of the volunteers of course. In fact I told him we had a few HIV+ volunteers as well and asked if he’d be interested to become one. From my observation, I think he can be a volunteer to help out other HIV+ people.

Fadil did admit though that as chatty as he was, he’d usually feel uncomfortable talking to “jantan tulen”. Although Fadil himself looks and dresses up as a guy, he is one of those who can be classified as “lelaki lembut”. I told him we do get cases from time to time involving guys like him and that I’d be happy to have him on board as a volunteer. He seemed very interested. “Tapi kerja sukarela tau? Takde gaji,” I said. He was still interested… “Elok jugak tu kak, dapat jugak kumpul pahala.”

So yes, he has agreed to join us for the Family Day and on that day, after I introduce him to the rest, he should be able to decide if he’s still interested to become a volunteer.

When I went to the doctor’s room to return Fadil’s file, SN asked about Salina’s case. Actually Salina’s case was referred to another volunteer during last week’s clinic duty, and the volunteer did say he’d refer the case to me, but apparently he forgot to inform me about it and so I was unaware about the case until today. When the case was referred last week, Salina, an unwed pregnant girl who just found out about her HIV, just started her medication. She delivered on Sunday. According to SN, Salina was still in the ward, and so I decided to visit her at the ward immediately after my clinic duty. Dr Ker warned me that Salina shared a room with a non-HIV case, so yes, I needed to be a little careful when I talk to Salina.

By 1pm I went over to the maternity ward to see Salina. I just mentioned Buddies and the name of the volunteer she met last week and immediately she opened up. She said she did feel a bit better after speaking to the volunteer last week and she welcomed my visit.

Salina’s parents do not know about her pregnancy nor HIV. Since she stopped working early this year, she had been staying with a cousin, who knew about her pregnancy but still doesn’t know about her HIV.

Salina however plans to move out and take care of her own baby. The baby? Ah, the new cucu of mine was sound asleep when I went to visit. Let’s just call him Ahmad Albab ok? :)

According to Salina, she and her boyfriend (according to her not Ahmad Albab’s biological dad) plans to get married, probably after her confinement. Although the boyfriend (she refers him as her “bakal suami”, not boyfriend) is negative, according to Salina, he still accepts her and willing to take care of both her and the baby.

Well, it was just my first meet with Salina, and I didn’t get to meet her “bakal suami”, but Salina gladly gave me her phone number and stored my number as well in her handphone. I will need to follow up and monitor her case to be able to really assess her situation.

And follow up I will, insyaAllah…

Friday, 3 June 2011

My PLHIV families…

I was updating my Education Sponsorship for Children accounts when I realised that there were quite a number of my clients whom I had not visited for quite some time. Most of my clients I’d visit during the initial stages after being assigned to them, to assess their needs and to help out wherever necessary. Then once they are stable, I only check on them from time to time, either by visiting them, or just by calling them. Sometimes, for those outstation, I’d take the opportunity to meet them at the hospital when they come for their appointment, even if it’s not on the date of my appointment.

Last year, there were 2 families whom I’d visit regularly – Sofie and Lin. A club agreed to sponsor groceries for both families and my job was to get the supply of groceries from the minimarket and deliver them to these two families. When the club approached me and asked me to recommend 2 families I purposely recommended these 2.

Sofie was (and still is) too weak to work. Every time she felt a bit better she’d try to work but she’d end up getting sick. So her sister and I told her to just take jobs which she could do at home. Even at home if she walks around too much, she’d end up unable to get up for a few days. So now she takes orders to make kuih-muih and the customers will go to her house to get their orders.

Although the club is no longer sponsoring the groceries this year, I still do get supplies of groceries for Sofie’s family using the money donated by my friends. And I still do visit them on monthly basis due to Sofie’s condition. I need to make sure the children are not deprived of their basic needs.

As for Lin, it was such a problematic year for her last year and the monthly supply of groceries did help her a lot. But I did tell her the grocery supplies would only be for one year and told her to get prepared. And she did get herself prepared. Her condition wasn’t as bad as Sofie’s, in fact one look at her, she looks healthy. She took up a short course on sewing and by the final quarter of last year, she was already taking orders. Woot! And by Feb this year, her 3rd daughter completed her diploma and got a job immediately. The eldest daughter then completed her nursing course last month and now looking for a job. Her second daughter is taking medic, so she needs a longer time to get her degree. I can already see a brighter future for this family, insyaAllah.

Fuzi is another one whose family always had problems. With her Indonesian citizenship, and her marriage in southern Thailand which was never registered by her late husband, she had problems getting identity cards for her children. Alhamdulillah all those problems are settled – her 3 older children have already got their MyKad ready. Financially, her schooling children are under our Sponsorship programme while an anonymous blog reader of mine banks in a fixed amount into Fuzi’s bank account every month to support Fuzi’s family.

Yah too used to be giving me headaches. Solving her financial problems back then wasn’t so much of a problem, but when at one time after she went angau over Mr Darling (yes, Lin’s ex-hubby), the once-upon-a-time tough single mom, became so ridiculously childish – even more childish than her own children!! When Mr Darling ditched her, she even resorted to sleeping with one man after another, just to seek revenge – hoping they’d get infected with HIV. Duh! Betul bagi pening kepala la ini perempuan! She knew I was mad at her and after a while she called saying she “dah baik”. Hehehe. Now she works in a factory and alhamdulillah her children are all back with her instead of at an orphanage.

Another family with their never-ending financial problems, Mr & Mrs K, also gave me a surprise recently. When Mrs K called wanting to meet up with me at the hospital, initially I thought she wanted to come up with another sad story on why she desperately needed money. To my surprise, she just wanted to give me a tudung. She now sews and sells tudungs for extra income and so she wanted to give one to me as her appreciation for my help.

Then there’s Maria. She never needed financial help. But used to call me just because she really needed to talk to someone, and she simply couldn’t talk to her husband who refused to talk about her HIV. As a matter of fact, the first time she called me (before that we met at the HIV clinic when I happened to be on duty), she was crying and crying I couldn’t really understand what she was trying to say. And once she sent me a message at 2 am asking if I could find her a place to stay. She just had a fight with her husband and the husband told her to get out of the house. I was fast asleep when the message came in, and so I only read the message when I woke up for subuh. By the time I called her, her husband had already apologised and said he didn’t mean to chase her out of the house. Anyway, ever since she started working at a nursery, at least it kept her a bit busy and so she no longer calls to talk about her problems. Last year for the first time she joined our Family Day with her daughter.

My other clients? Nuri seemed to be doing okay after the initial help that we gave her. Not wanting to be too dependent on others, as far as she could, Nuri would avoid seeking help from others. As for Sha, her husband had been very supportive (this is her second husband, she got HIV from her first husband), and so unlike Maria, Sha didn’t really need to talk things out with me. She’d only call me if there were matters she needed clarification especially regarding HIV.

Hana too had not been giving me much problem of late. Likewise Murni, Rozi, Wani, Shila, Ifa and Liza.

Overall, while some of them did give me headaches 2 or 3 years ago, this year so far, there had not been too much drama in the lives of my clients, and so I didn’t really have much problem handling my clients’ cases this year. I think my regular blog followers would be able to see that too… compared to my postings in 2007, 2008 and 2009, this year’s postings had not been too dramatic… :)

I do hope I’m not speaking too soon though…

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Back to normal routine

My knee is no longer in pain and I am no longer limping. So yes, I can get back to my normal routine now.

Today, I finally went for my first house visit after the run. Sofie’s of course, as she’s the one who still need regular help with groceries. It is school holidays anyway, and I thought all the kids would be home.

But was I wrong. When I got to their home, only Sofie and Ika, her youngest daughter, were home. The 3 boys? Saiful slept at his abang angkat’s house, Azman slept at his friend’s house while Azli was out doing God knows what.

So I only had Ika to help me carry the groceries down from my car. Which I meant I had to carry down the heavier stuff lah.

I told Sofie about our coming Family Day in July and asked her to confirm if all her children would be joining us. I already know for a fact that Ika, Saiful and Azman wouldn’t want to miss it. In fact once they even followed me to Kedah (without their mother coming along) for another function. Otherwise they seldom get to jalan-jalan. Only Azlan is usually rather reluctant to follow, but ever since last year’s Family Day, he seems okay too. But I just wanted a confirmation anyway.

Sofie then told me how Azlan, her eldest son, is becoming more and more like his father. He seldom stay home, and at times he can become very rude, even to his own mother. Oh dear, I hope he has not been mixing with the wrong group of friends…

I do hope he will be joining for the Family Day. It is easier to talk to him indirectly during the day so that it won’t be too obvious to him.

Speaking of Family Day, we only have about 1 month to go to the event. I’ve already instructed the volunteers to start calling their clients to invite them to the Family Day and to confirm how many of them are coming. We need the confirmation by mid-June to finalise our bookings and to plan on the logistics. I’ve already sent a general SMS to all my clients. Since I have too many clients, I figured it would be better if I send a general SMS to all of them so at least they can decide if they’d like to join, then nearer to the deadline I’ll call them to get the confirmation, if they have not responded by then.

It will be busy the next few weeks for the Family Day committee. Chances are we may be having our meeting every week until the end of the month.

So, where will we be going this year?