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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Saturday, 30 June 2012

All set!

Bookings confirmed.

Prizes ready.

Transportations arranged.

Yep, we’re all set for our Family Day…







Thursday, 28 June 2012

All in a day’s work

I was on clinic duty again yesterday. This time alone because the trainee volunteer who usually joins me on 4th Wednesdays was outstation. Not a problem for me since I’m already used to doing my duty alone.

There were supposed to be a few new cases, but after more than an hour, still no cases were referred. I was beginning to get sleepy and bored (I am known as the “tak reti dok diam” type) when a familiar looking lady walked in smiling. It was Kak Mar, a client referred to me a few months back. Kak Mar is one of the very few clients older than I am.

Kak Mar, being the happy go lucky and chatty type, loves to have new friends. Being relatively new as a client of Buddies (before this she was in another state) she had yet to meet most of the other volunteers and clients. Needless to say, she’s excited to join us for our Family Day this coming Sunday. She will be coming with her youngest daughter, who loves outdoor activities and is just as excited to join the Family Day.

The youngest daughter is still of schooling age, and I thought she’s in form 5. Apparently she’s supposed to be in form four this year, but I was quite surprised to find out yesterday that the girl had actually stopped schooling since last year without even sitting for her PMR. Kak Mar was at that time, bedridden, and so the girl decided to stop schooling to take care of her mother. Her other siblings, all married, hardly even call to ask how they were doing.

When Kak Mar got better, she did try to arrange for the girl to go back to school, but the girl was no longer interested. So now Kak Mar works as a cook at a canteen, while the girl works at the same place, washing the dishes. Hmmm… not good, she may be okay now, but what about her future? I asked Kak Mar if the girl had any special interests. Seems the girl loves sewing. And when I suggested that the girl takes up a proper sewing course, Kak Mar agreed that her daughter would indeed be interested. At least a skill which can be used as a good source of income for her!

Anyway, I told Kak Mar I myself will be fetching her & her daughter at the bus station this coming Sunday. So we will meet again soon, insyaAllah.

Right after Kak Mar left the room, finally the nurse came in with a couple to be referred. New case, she said, but when I spoke to them, I found out that there wasn’t much that needed to be explained to them. They may be newly referred to Ipoh GH, but both husband & wife had been on HAART for a few years already. They just moved back to Perak recently. The husband’s CD4 had increased to 800+ while the wife’s was 400+. Certainly an improvement because when they were first diagnosed, their CD4 was only circa 100+.

Later in the afternoon, I went to visit Imran. I had earlier called on Monday to confirm if he and his family would be joining our Family Day. We needed to confirm the number of pax and in previous years’ Family Day events, we’ve had clients who decided to pull out without even informing us. Apparently on the day that I called Imran, that very morning he was involved in a motor accident. And so he and his family had no choice but to pull out.

On Tuesday, Imran sent me a message, asking if I had a wheelchair he could borrow temporarily until he gets better. Coincidently we do have a wheelchair at the centre. It was supposed to be for Sofie’s use but Sofie never had the chance to use it. She passed away before I could deliver the wheelchair to her. I did tell Imran that I’d try to deliver the wheelchair either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, and so when I went yesterday afternoon, I didn’t bother to call first. Depending only on the address I got in the first contact report, and my ever faithful GPS, I set off to Imran’s house.

Just when I arrived, I saw Imran’s wife outside. Ahh, so I got the right house. They were quite surprised to see me, probably because they didn’t expect me so early and they thought I would have called to ask for directions. Imran’s wife, Yati, was getting ready to bring Imran to the hospital again. They went earlier in the morning for x-ray, but there were so many people, by lunch time they couldn’t get to see the doctor yet. So they were going again in the afternoon with the x-ray to see the doctor.

For the moment, Imran will be unable to work. Being self-employed, not working means no income. So the wife has started making putu kacang samples to be sold for Raya. I saw the samples in small tupperwares in their living room. I had helped Wani get customers for the sale of her Raya cookies for the past few years, and so I thought why not help this family too. Besides, Wani sells modern cookies like almond london and pineapple tarts, while Yati makes putu kacang, a traditional delicacy. And so, Yati gave me 3 of those small tupperwares as samples for me to get buyers.

Yesterday I posted the pic on my facebook page, and already I have orders for BEFORE fasting month. My friends didn’t even need samples to taste. Hopefully I can get more orders for Raya. It’s the least I can do to help the family.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A new beginning

After my lawn-mowing on Sunday, when I got back into my house, I noticed there were 3 missed calls on my handphone. The calls were all from Rozi, Sofie’s sister who is now taking care of Sofie’s children. After not getting any answers, she finally sent me a text message… “kak… azlan xbuat apa pn lgi. bleh ka bsok p ikm? lau sy bwa p bsok dpa sruh blk ja buang msa sy jla mcm 2.

Yep, Azlan who came back on Saturday morning still had not done a single thing. Rozi worked whole day on Saturday and she was hoping Azlan would have at least got something done. But nope, the boy was waiting for someone to help him out, even with the simplest things.

So, medical check-up not done yet. Bank account not opened yet. Registration was supposed to be the next day. Rozi was wondering if IKM would accept their registration if they simply went without getting all those things done. She didn’t want to waste her time and her leave from work all for nothing.

Rozi had asked Azlan if he indeed wanted to further his studies. The boy without a doubt said yes. Last year when he was still in form 5, this very same boy told his mother he wanted to work immediately after SPM and didn’t want to study anymore. I finally managed to coax him into getting at least a cert in any skills he’s interested in. His change of mind was also probably encouraged by the fact that I got his younger brother to take up a culinary course instead of quitting school after PMR. But now that I’ve got him interested to further his studies, he seemed to be totally dependent on others to bring him around to do whatever necessary whereas he is big enough to do those things himself.

I told Rozi to go early in the morning. Registration was supposed to be from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm, and so if they got to the town early, they could get Azlan to have his medical check up done in the morning, open up a bank account and then immediately register him. If they were to do all those in Ipoh before going over to that town, they may not get there on time.

I called Rozi after 7 pm yesterday to find out if they had managed to get things done for Azlan. Rozi and her husband borrowed a friend’s car to send Azlan. They only got to the place after 9 am because they got lost finding the place, and ended up getting Azlan to do his medical check up at a private clinic, having to pay RM120 for everything, including the x-ray. And they also managed to open up a bank account for Azlan at the bank specified by IKM. Even then, every time he needed to go somewhere to do something (like needing to go next door to get some things photostated), he’d pull his aunt along… “Jom la Ma…” (the children call their aunt Ma). Sigh…

Whatever it is, with hostel provided, they left the place at about 2 pm, leaving Azlan to start a new life. I honestly hope the 2 year course will help him become more independent, and more importantly to build a brighter future for himself.

Me? Right now I am happy enough that the path for 2 of Sofie’s children had already been laid down. Last year both Azlan and Azman had wanted to quit studying immediately after SPM & PMR respectively. They wanted to start their working life with just their SPM & PMR qualifications. But I managed to coax them to continue studying by applying for vocational courses according to their interests. That is about all I can do for them. It is now up to them to make good use of the opportunity they are getting…

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Children

Some time back, Azman, Sofie’s son (the one studying at a culinary school), called to inform me that his college was arranging for a trip to board a cruise ship as part of their programme. It was to be just a day trip, for the students to look around especially at the ship’s kitchen practice. Well, the trip was supposed to be last Thursday, and I was supposed to give him some pocket money the day before (I didn’t want to give him the pocket money earlier in case he finished them before the trip).

So on Wednesday morning, I sent him a text message informing him that I’d go and see him at his hostel after asar. After a while, probably in between his classes, he called to say that the trip had to be postponed to July as a very important visitor was going to visit the college on Friday. Ahh… at least he bothered to tell me the truth instead of just accepting the pocket money quietly and spend it on something else.

Just when I thought Azman would be the only one of Sofie’s children giving me (and their aunt Rozi) headaches, now Azlan, the eldest boy, is beginning to give us headaches as well. He is supposed to report to IKM this coming Monday, and since he had been doing a temporary job while waiting for all the results to come out, we told him to quit his job soonest possible to enable him to do whatever necessary before reporting to IKM. There’s a medical check up to be done, a bank account to be opened, and some documents needing to be certified.

Azlan did take 2 days leave earlier, but the 2 days were wasted doing nothing. Then he had to go outstation. He was planning his last day at work to be on Friday 22nd June. So when would he be doing all the things mentioned above? We told him to come back by Wednesday, 20th, but he never did. Calls went unanswered and his aunt began to worry. What if he suddenly decided he didn’t want to further his studies? On my part, there’s not much else I can do. I’ve done what I could.

Well, this morning his aunt Rozi sent me a text message again, saying that Azlan had just arrived home after subuh, and she asked if I could call and check on him. She herself was at work. I did call, but again, no answer. I suppose he was still sleeping? I told the aunt I gave up. Lantak dialah!

Anyway, remember Zana’s 10 year old daughter? The one I went to visit last week at PICU? After no news for a week, I decided to call Zana to find out of the latest development. Apparently the girl passed away on Thursday evening and the funeral was yesterday morning, the very same day that I decided to call Zana. For the moment Zana has no plans yet about her future. She had lost one of her twin sons before. The one still alive is now at a shelter home. Although Zana had taken him home before to stay together with her and her family, somehow her family couldn’t seem to accept him and always ended up beating him up. So Zana sent him back to the shelter so he could have a better life there.

But now that her daughter is gone, will Zana end up taking her son back from the shelter home? I guess we will just have to wait and see…

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The exhibition, Family Day and the children’s further education…



I spent last Saturday morning at UniKL-RCMP, Ipoh, manning our exhibition booth during their Open Day. On Thursday I got a call from the organisers saying that all the booths are to be ready by 7.30 am, and we could start setting up our booths on Friday after 2 pm if we wanted to. I figured I might as well set up the booth on Friday so that we didn’t have to rush on Saturday morning.

But when I got there at 3 pm, the organisers themselves weren’t really ready yet. Yes, the tents were there but that was about it. So my colleague and I just put the posters on our exhibition boards and left our things under the tent. The organisers did say they hired extra security for the day.

Like it or not, on Saturday morning, I still had to leave home early. Promised the same colleague to meet up at the booth at 7.15 am so that we could get everything set up by 7.30 am. Again, when we went, the organisers themselves weren’t ready. Our table was not set up yet, and I ended up carrying the board for the table myself from another tent. We still had to wait for the tablecloth from the organisers before we could start arranging our brochures, collar pins and key-chains on the table.

Turned out some participants only came after 8.30 am, and the official opening only started at 10 am. Duh!

My colleague had to go off by 9.30 am as she had to attend another function elsewhere, so I was manning the booth alone until the next shift of volunteers were supposed to come at 11.30 am. While waiting at the booth I decided to send text messages to my clients to inform them of the arrangements for our coming Family Day. Kak Mar called me back immediately. She said she may not be able to reach Ipoh by 8 am and asked if it was okay if she arrived a bit later, maybe by 8.30 am. I understand for some of them especially those staying quite far, it will not be easy to reach Ipoh by 8 am. But since the volunteer fetching Kak Mar, will head immediately to the venue of our Family Day in her car instead of joining the rest to assemble near our centre before boarding the bus, I suppose being a bit late for Kak Mar is okay since it will not affect the rest of the group.

Then Hana replied my SMS. She was in another state, sending her daughter to a private college offering UiTM courses. Hana did call me before seeking my opinion if her daughter should accept the offer (the college would arrange for PTPTN loans, but the registration fee of RM2,000 was to be arranged by the students themselves by seeking help from either Baitulmal or whatever state Yayasan). It had been a few times already that Hana’s daughter had been getting offers from private colleges. I told Hana it was up to them to decide whether to accept or not, but I made it clear that our financial assistance for the children’s education only covers up to secondary school… in case she starts asking us to help out with the registration fee etc.

Looks like they decided to take up the offer after all. I suppose she did manage to get help with the RM2K registration fee. So it’s bye-bye form 6 for Hana’s daughter.

On Sunday, as I had promised earlier, I went to visit Azlan, Sofie’s son who got the offer to IKM. There’s still a balance in his sponsorship account and so I used up the balance to buy postal orders worth RM350 which is required as registration fees when he reports on 25th June. Azlan wasn’t home when I went to visit, he was working, so I passed whatever necessary to his Aunt Rozi. According to Rozi, Azlan had yet to start filling in the forms etc. Neither had he done his medical check-up nor opened up the required bank account. And he plans to work until Friday, 22nd June. Gosh! So when on earth is he going to do his medical check up, open up the bank account etc? Apparently, according to Rozi, he did take 2 days leave the week before. Supposedly, he should have done whatever that needed to be done. Rozi had to go to work (she will need to take leave when sending Azlan for registration on 25th and she has taken so many days leave already when Sofie had to be hospitalised and after Sofie’s death), and since Azlan is big enough to do things for himself, she left it totally to Azlan.

But the 2 days he took leave was wasted doing nothing. Nope, no medical check up, no opening of bank account. In fact he hadn’t even filled in a single thing in the form! I guess he thought there was still ample time. Or he expected his aunt to bring him around to do whatever necessary. Sigh…

I told Rozi to tell Azlan that it is by order of yours truly that Azlan must stop work immediately to settle whatever necessary before he goes to register for the 2 year course. I think by tomorrow I’d better check again to see if anything had been done at all.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Is she losing another child?

As mentioned in my previous post, Zana finally contacted me after having lost touch for quite some time. Zana was the first case I had to send to a shelter home in KL due to her out-of-wedlock pregnancy way back in 2006. She gave birth to a pair of twins, both boys, but one of them died after a few months. After she left the home, I lost touch with her, getting only updates from time to time from the lady in charge at the shelter home.

When she called me on Wednesday, she was at the hospital because her 10 year old daughter, was hospitalised for toxoplasmosis. Zana couldn’t call me earlier as she had lost my number, but finally managed to get my number from somebody else.

So yesterday morning I went to the PICU. I called Zana to come out so we could have a chat outside. Zana still looked very much the same although I have not met her for the past 5 years.

She cried the moment she saw me. “Dah takde harapan, kak. CD4 dah kosong. Dia pun dah coma dari semalam. Kena pakai mesin.” Her mother was sleeping on a chair outside the ward. That was the first time I met her mother. When I went to fetch Zana years ago to send her to the shelter home, she wasn’t staying with her real parents, but her foster mother’s home. So I never met her real family, although I have been contacting them via SMS when I was trying to arrange to send her back home after she delivered the twins. But at that time Zana’s father totally disowned her and simply refused to let her back home, especially with the twins tagging along.

Apparently for the past year, Zana had been accepted back by her family. How, or what prompted it, I don’t know, it wasn’t a suitable time for me to ask when I met her yesterday. I just listened to her story without asking too many questions. She did initially brought her son along to stay with her and her family, but somehow, looking at how her family treated her son (he got beaten up quite often), she decided to send him back to the shelter home so they could take better care of him. According to Zana, her family seemed like they still couldn’t accept the little boy who is now 6 years old.

6 years already? Wow, how time flies. I still have a picture of the twins when they were just a few months old before one of them passed away. Yesterday Zana showed me a picture (on her handphone) of her daughter and son together (before the son was sent back to the shelter home). They both looked so cute! The girl was still a chubby girl then.

Yes, the girl. She’s so skinny now, with a CD4 of 0, in coma and on life support.

Zana has already lost one child. Is she going to lose another? We can just pray for the best. Surely Allah knows better.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

New cases, old cases…

After a lapse of 3 weeks, I was on duty again today. Usually I’d be on duty every alternate weeks, ie the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, but since last month there was a 5th Wednesday, we didn’t have anyone on duty then. So yes, once in a while I do get a 3 week lapse before being on duty again.

I was told there were supposed to be 4 new cases today, but in the end only met 2. One didn’t turn up, while the other turned up very late and so SN told me there was no need to wait since that case was a prison case anyway.

Both cases I saw weren’t newly diagnosed cases. Both had been going for appointments in Sg Buloh Hospital before they moved to Perak recently.

The first case, a guy in his early thirties, had already been on HAART for a year now. He now stays with his family who knows about his HIV status and they don’t have a problem with it. There wasn’t much counselling needed for this guy, by now he already knows all that he needed to know.

The second case, a pregnant lady. Initially I thought hers was a newly diagnosed case, but turned out she too had been going for appointments in Sg Buloh before this ever since her first pregnancy. She did follow up at Sg Buloh Hospital until her first child was 2 years old but ever since she moved, she had not been going for any more appointments. Her first child had been confirmed negative.

She got HIV from her first husband. They then got divorced, and she remarried. Her second husband married her despite knowing that she was HIV positive. While she had not been going for any more follow up appointments after moving to Perak, recently when she was found to be pregnant, like it or not, her case had to be referred to Ipoh GH. Her husband’s blood test showed negative results, but he will have to be tested again to be sure he is not infected. I hope they will practice safe sex after this.

As I was at the Buddies Centre later today to settle some matters, I received a text message from Zana, who asked me to call back. Remember Zana… the problematic young woman I had written about a few years back? Just to recap…

Not long after Zana’s case was referred to me, she asked if I could help arrange for a place to stay for her. She didn’t say why at first, just said that her family didn’t want her to stay with them anymore. I suspected there had to be something more to that story, and finally she admitted she was pregnant. Yep, another of those out of wedlock pregnancy cases. So I sent her to a shelter home in KL, while her older child (from her late husband who had died earlier) was left with her parents.

Not long after she went to the shelter home, she gave birth to a pair of twins, both boys. At one point, I was prepared to fetch her and send her & the twins back to her parents house, but on the very day that I went to the shelter home to fetch them, I was told there was a crisis at home. Her father had disowned her and simply refused to let her come home, especially with the children. Apparently even with the first child, it was an out of wedlock pregnancy, but they managed to marry her off with the guy before she delivered. For the second pregnancy, they didn’t even know who fathered the children.

Problem with Zana was that she couldn’t get along with anyone else at the shelter home (and vice versa, all the occupants there were complaining about her too). Although the twins were eventually confirmed negative, one of them died after just a few months – not HIV related.

Zana then left the home, initially taking her son along with her, but later sent him back when financially she couldn’t give him the care needed. I lost touch with Zana after that, but occasionally I had been getting updates from the lady in charge of the shelter home where Zana used to stay.

This time Zana contacted me because she was at the Ipoh Hospital. Nope, she wasn’t the one who got warded, but her older child, the daughter who had been taken care by her parents. Seems the girl had been unwell of late and recently was found to have  toxoplasmosis. Toxo? It is one of the opportunistic diseases associated with HIV. Apparently the little girl had been diagnosed HIV +ve just recently. According to Zana, the girl was tested once initially (with negative results) but after that she was never brought for any follow up appointments. Now the girl’s in PICU, and according to Zana, is unconscious.

I am planning to visit them tomorrow. More updates after the visit…

Monday, 11 June 2012

Busy weeks ahead…

Our Family Day is coming up on the 1st July… that’s less than 3 weeks to go. With 92 pax confirming attendance (not inclusive of volunteers), 52 of them the families of my clients, guess who has to make the most calls? Although usually there’d be a few (sometimes quite a lot) last minute pullouts, somehow I expect the total attendance to be quite high this year. Wonder if we can beat our previous record of 94 pax total turnout (including volunteers) we had in 2010.
The biggest headache is usually arranging the transportation for the various families. But more volunteers have indicated they’d attend this year’s Family Day, so I’m hoping they can help out in that department.
Meanwhile, this Saturday, we will be setting up an exhibition booth during UniKL-RCMP Open day. If you happen to be in or around Ipoh this Saturday, 16th June 2012, do drop by.
Anyway, I am running out of weekends to do any outdoor training for my Kinabalu attempt in July, so when some friends invited me to join them to hike up Bukit Tabur (West), I decided to join them. So yep, that was what I did yesterday, Sunday 10th June. Kerja gila at some parts, but the view from up there was spectacular!
And my favourite scenery…

But before anyone decides to simply go up Tabur to view for themselves the above sceneries, do take into account, this is not a walk in the park…
tabur17 tabur37
tabur57 tabur67

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Sponsored Children – After SPM…

When we first started our Education Sponsorship for Children programme back in 2008, our main objective was to make sure the children of our HIV infected/affected families are not deprived of basic education at least, no matter what their parents have to go through. So the sponsorship was to help them get through schooling up to form 5 at least or form 6 at most. Since we depend on the public to support us in this cause, we figured getting these children go through school was fair enough.

From  children sponsored in 2008, now the number has increased to 33. And last year, for the first time, we had 5 of our sponsored children who sat for their SPM.

So where are these 5 children headed to after their SPM? Do they continue their studies or do they start working life at a young age, based only on their SPM?

One has gone to report to a matriculation college last week.

Two has decided to continue with form 6.

One is arranging to apply for a place at a polytechnic (she missed the earlier deadline for application via UPU but went to the polytechnic personally and was told she could still apply directly through the polytechnic website).

The last one got a place to do a skill training course for 2 years. Once he completes the course, he can use the cert to further his skill training programme at a higher level.

So… YAYYYY!! All of them are not stopping at SPM. Given the fact they come from poor families, that in itself is an achievement, especially when one of them had already mentioned earlier that he planned to start working immediately after SPM to help ease his family’s burden.

I had always reminded them about the importance of education for their future, or at least get a skill cert based on their field of interest, so that they will have something more than just SPM to support their job applications later on.

I am so glad they took the advise. Good luck kids! May the future be brighter for your families…