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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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Updates here and there

Having to reduce some of my time for voluntary work ever since I need to take care of my mother at home, looks like there will be less updates on this blog. But I will still update from time to time…

1. We had an in-house training for our volunteers on Tuesday night. The topic was on dealing with the death of our clients. The topic covered some of the procedures and guidelines used by the relevant authorities in handling deaths of HIV infected persons. While the procedures basically involve health personnel, it is good for our volunteers’ knowledge so they’d know what to expect when any of their clients die… what problems may arise from those guidelines etc. The training also involved briefing the volunteers on following up with the families of the deceased clients.

2. We have been selected again to receive a grant from Yayasan Sultan Azlan Shah this year. This will be the 3rd consecutive time we will be receiving the grant, together with quite a number of other societies and homes. With donations being rather slow this year (last year had been a good year for us though in terms of donations received), and more and more children getting help for their schooling, we can probably put aside some of the amount received to our Children Education Fund. Year end school holidays are coming soon anyway, and soon enough, we will need to bring the children to shop for their back-to-school necessities.

3. I will need to really schedule some visits to the homes of a few clients for our Sponsorship Assessment visits. There are some new clients in need of monthly help for their schooling children, the expenses of which aren’t covered by our Children Education Fund, so whenever necessary, we try to get individual sponsors for these children. Hopefully I will be able to slot in some time for the visits, and if need be, to look for interested sponsors. Usually I’d just broadcast on my FB page… there’d usually be some interested kind-hearted persons from there…

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Another round of clinic duty and house visits

I was on clinic duty again yesterday. This time I didn’t have to wait before the first case was handed over. There were supposed to be only 2 new cases, both came quite early. In fact the first one was already there by the time I got to the clinic.

When the nurse mentioned the name of the guy for the first case, I thought the name sounded familiar. True enough, I had actually corresponded with the guy before. He had emailed me earlier seeking my advise after he was first diagnosed HIV+. He was then in Singapore, had to do a medical check-up to renew his work permit, and that was when he was found to be +ve. For a while he was lost as to what to do. He was to come back to Ipoh, but what next?

After a few exchanges of emails. he finally made an appointment with the doctor at the Ipoh ID clinic. And coincidentally, his appointment was yesterday, the day when I was on clinic duty. So when I mentioned my name, he recognised me immediately.

With the exception of a cousin who accompanied him to the hospital, none of this guy’s other family members know of his condition. What he needs right now is more of moral support, and so I assured him that I’d assign a buddy whom I think should be able to get along well with him.

The next case referred to me was a 50 year old lady, whose husband died a few months ago. She didn’t even know that he had HIV, until she got a copy of the death cert which indicated HIV as being the reason of his death. Hmmm… somehow something didn’t seem right. HIV is not supposed to be written as cause of death. But of course, the blessing was that because of that blunder (that HIV was written on the death cert), this lady went for tests herself, and she too was diagnosed to be hiv+ as well. In fact, her CD4 is considered quite low.

With her late husband never ever having an EPF and/or Socso contribution, there was nothing she could claim from the two. And she herself had only worked once for just a month or two. So how does she survive? 2 or her 3 children are working. The eldest, a son, 20, works in KL, earning just enough to survive for himself alone. Her second daughter, the one staying with her, is the one working and paying for her needs… including rental and utilities. The youngest, 14, is still in school. When we told her that we do have funds to help out with children’s schooling, she asked if we could help get financial assistance for herself. For the moment I can only think of welfare assistance for her.

With only 2 cases referred, and both were early for their appointments, I finished my clinic rather early as well. Later in the afternoon I went for 2 house visits. It has been quite a while since I visited any of my clients at home, and this time I brought along a trainee volunteer as I wanted her to take over these cases. I already have too many cases in my hands and so the plan is to pass the less problematic ones to other volunteers so I can concentrate on the ones really needing more attention.

First up was Fuzi’s house. Fuzi did call me earlier to tell me that her hiv+ son, Ijam, had a broken arm from an accident. I couldn’t visit earlier as I had to spend more time at home to take care of my own mother, and since I had the time to spare yesterday, I decided to visit them and introduce them to the trainee volunteer. Anyway, the volunteer and this family had already met during our Family Day earlier this year, so it was more of introducing Fuzi to her new buddy. Fuzi is not really the type who’d “cling” on to the same buddy, so I think there shouldn’t be any problem with the “handover”. Besides, Fuzi can still call me if need be.

Next up, Aini’s house. I knew Aini wasn’t home, but last Saturday, her eldest daughter, now in form 6, sent me a text message saying she received an offer letter from MOSTI to take up a diploma course, and sought my opinion if she should accept the offer. It was rather difficult for me to advise without even looking at the letter, what more when I asked for details, things didn’t seem very clear. For one thing, the letter didn’t specify what course was offered to this girl, it just mentioned the list of courses available. I looked up MOSTI’s website, nothing was mentioned about any courses being offered, and so I figured I might as well have a look at the letter before I give her any advise.

The letter looked legitimate. With MOSTI’s logo and the government’s official logo at the letterhead, and logos of MARA, MOHE and Technology Park Malaysia as joint partners of the programme. There were a few things that made me suspicious although I didn’t want to advise the girl against accepting the offer unless I could be very sure. I mean, it could be a legitimate offer and this girl could miss a good chance to do something she likes (Diploma in Tourism was mentioned as one of the courses offered). So I told her to just go for the briefing or whatever but enquire first before paying any registration fee. Meanwhile I also took a snapshot of the letter, to enquire anyone in the know. A friend did say she knew people in MOSTI, so I was thinking of seeking her help to find out if the offer was legitimate, or it was just a private college making use of MOSTI’s and other agencies’ names to trick unsuspecting students & parents to sign up with them.

There were a few things I was rather suspicious about:

1. MOSTI is not known (at least not that I know of) to offer diploma courses. Definitely not Tourism.

2. The offer letter did not specify what course was offered, instead just a list of courses that the students could choose from.

3. The numbers given to be called by those who chose to accept the offer were all mobile numbers, no fixed line.

4. Registration is to be held at a community hall, not at a college or anywhere with a permanent office. And the students are supposed to be paying RM300 registration fee.

So yes, enquiries were made, and I finally got to speak with a MOSTI officer who said that MOSTI never issues such letters, offering students to take up any courses whatsoever with them. She advised that the girl do not accept the offer, and she also asked for the phone numbers stated in the letter, which I gladly gave to her.

And yes, after that call, I immediately advised Aini’s daughter NOT to accept the offer. Thank goodness she decided to seek my advise before making any decision. If it was up to her, she was really keen to take up tourism (which she didn’t qualify to apply for earlier because she got a D for maths whereas the minimum requirement is a C for maths).

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Shimah’s dilemma

Shimah texted me again yesterday. Although earlier on she felt relieved when told her blood test results came out negative, she started worrying again when told she should come back for another test in 6 months time.

We had been exchanging messages regarding this matter. She couldn’t quite understand the “window period”. I had to be frank and asked her when was the last time she had sex with her husband. I knew she wanted me to confirm that she is confirmed to be negative in the next test, but with the 6 months window period not over yet during the recent test, I dared not say so for sure.

This morning I called her up. I figured she probably needed to talk things out. True enough, after a while she started pouring out whatever she had been keeping inside of her. It was not just her worries about the infection that had been bothering her. Apparently she had been thinking about divorce for some time already – not because of Roslan’s HIV, but because of his attitude.

Dah banyak kali dia buat hal, kak. Lepas satu, satu… tak pernah serik.”

She did ask him to divorce her about 2 years ago, but Roslan simply refused to let her go. Even after the accident and he became handicapped (he is now permanently using crutches), he didn’t even attempt to change. During the last clinic duty when I met both of them, Roslan somehow was in denial as to how he got infected. He said while he did sleep with a few women before he got married, based on his condition he believed it was the blood transfusion he had that caused the infection.

This morning when I spoke to Shimah (Roslan wasn’t home then as he went to visit his father), I found out that Roslan too had secretly been an injecting drug user as well. And both their sons hate him because he had always been a bad-tempered person, and they also dislike the way he had been treating their mother.

According to Shimah, the only reason she is still staying on in the marriage is her children. She’s still together with Roslan for her children’s sake. But at the same time, she also told me that her older son, now 20 and already working, had actually been telling her to file for divorce. The younger son left it all to his mother to decide.

Shimah herself, although has lost all feelings of love for Roslan after all that he had done, still has some pity for him, especially in his present condition, being handicapped after the accident. But at times she does get fed-up with his attitude which hasn’t changed at all even after the accident.


I told Shimah she has the right to file for divorce even if Roslan refuses to let her go. However, I reminded her that the decision has to be hers, and not because someone else tells her so.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see her next course of action…