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, 14 June 2017

My Ramadhan Visits

For the past 10 years or more, Ramadhan had always been my busiest month. Ever since I was confirmed as a Buddies volunteer, most of the cases assigned to me involve poor PLHIV families, mainly involving single mothers. While for some of the hard core poor families, I make it a point to visit every month to deliver groceries, during the month of Ramadhan I usually visit even more families to bring some cheer especially to the children from these poor families.

Imagine their excitement getting pre-loved and/or new clothes and whatever other Raya goodies I could get hold of. Some got excited the moment they knew I'd be visiting. For some, without any kampung to go to for Raya, they'd excitedly be asking when I'd be visiting them for Raya, because they seldom get visitors at their home.

It helps that I tend to get a lot more donations during Ramadhan. My sincere thanks to my old school friends, my blog friends, my FB friends and even some of my blog readers whom I've never even met before. Without the support of these generous donors, I wouldn't be able to give much assistance to the poor PLHIV families I've been assigned to.

I may not be doing as many house visits as I used to do during my early years as a volunteer. Back then, sometimes I'd visit 3 or 4 homes in a day. I remember once I actually went to visit and delivered groceries to 4 different families within half a day. From my home in Ipoh, I headed to Sg Siput, followed by Chemor, then Pusing and last one in Batu Gajah before I headed back home. And yes, during fasting month, my visits cover homes from all over Perak. Tg Piandang, Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Gerik, Gopeng, Kampar, Parit, Sungkai. And oh, even Cameron Highlands.

Most of the hard core poor families aren't doing too bad now. Some may still need assistance, but not as much as they did back then. A few are totally independent, and no longer need any assistance. For those staying quite far from Ipoh, and still need help, I'd just transfer some cash online from my charity account into their respective bank accounts. That is, of course, after I visit them at least once to assess their situation at home.

Likewise, for this year's Ramadhan/Raya contributions, for those staying quite far from Ipoh, I'd just do online cash transfers. Quite far means more than an hour drive from Ipoh. The ones I still visit are usually the ones with young children. Less visits to the homes of those with grown up children, unless there are specific matters they need to discuss, especially pertaining to education.

I have no choice but to choose who I need to visit. After over 10 years with Buddies, I've been assigned to close to 80 clients. Imagine if I have to visit each and every single one of them during Ramadhan... banyak letih lor!!!

Friday, 2 June 2017

All in a day's voluntary work

Whenever I'm on voluntary duty at Taiping Hospital ID clinic, I'd usually make it a point to at least visit any clients staying around the area. Yesterday was no exception. In fact, yesterday I covered more than I usually did.

A client, Nor, who had received assistance from us for a pair of glasses, had texted me earlier if I could help get orders for kuih siput which she's making for Raya. I told her since I was going to Taiping yesterday, I'd like to get a kilogram first for myself, since I'd like to taste them first before I can recommend to anyone. So, we promised to meet up at Simpang area, before I proceeded to Taiping town. My intention was to pay her for the kuih siput, but when I wanted to give her the money, she told me it wasn't necessary. She wanted me to taste them first so I could start taking orders from others, if I could get any.

That done, I headed on to Taiping Hospital. It was quite a busy day yesterday during my clinic duty, although of late we haven't had too many cases referred to us. Sometimes we go to Taiping without even a single case referred. Sometimes it's because the new case never turned up at the hospital, while sometimes they felt they didn't need any help and so it wasn't necessary to see us. Usually the nurse would only refer cases which she felt needed help, and even so, she'd ask them first if they agree to see us.

The first case referred yesterday was a guy in his 50's, who came with his wife. The wife has been confirmed negative, but when the nurse mentioned about Buddies, she thought her husband could use the help. The guy had not been working for the past 5 years because of illnesses and since he's feeling better now, he plans to start looking for a job. But getting a job when you're above 50 is not easy. When he found out that Buddies is a support group, he felt uncomfortable and said he didn't need any help. I'm not sure what he said to his wife after that (they spoke in Chinese), but it sounded like he was scolding his wife for agreeing to see Buddies. Ah well, never mind. I just gave his wife our brochure, just in case some time in future they need our help, at least they have a number to call.

The next case was a young lady who gave birth 5 months ago. Apparently when she was pregnant she was not detected for HIV. So no precautions were taken during her pregnancy and delivery. As such, her baby needs to be tested from time to time. So far so good, but the baby still needs to go for follow up until he/she (I forgot to ask about the baby's gender) is confirmed not infected. Again, this lady said she didn't need help, and so I didn't assign any buddies to her.

I thought I was done with the 2 cases, but then the staff nurse told me that another PLHIV wanted to see me, because he was interested to become a volunteer. Since I was already at the hospital, I might as well interview him there and then. Another client, Dahlia, who was also there for her appointment, wanted to hitch a ride home in my car since I was going to visit her family anyway, so she had no choice but to wait.

Back to the guy, he was first diagnosed after a blood donation drive. He was so depressed he didn't even go to get any treatment. All he wanted to do back then was to commit suicide. He thought of jumping down from a tall building, but then he thought, that would embarrass his family. After some time his condition worsened, and he went back to his hometown to stay with his family. To this day, none of his family members are aware of his HIV. They only know of his hepatitis. He kept everything to himself and didn't have anyone to talk to about how he felt. One day he collapsed, and by then he had no choice but to be hospitalised and get treatment.

Now that he's feeling a lot better, the moment he heard about Buddies from the staff nurse, he wants to become a volunteer. Which was why he requested to see me. After all that he had gone through, I think he'd make a good volunteer. The only problem is, since he doesn't stay anywhere near Ipoh, it will be difficult to train him. New volunteers are taken in as trainees first, and will only be confirmed later after following the senior volunteers around either during home visits or clinic duties. I hope we can somehow arrange for some sort of training for this guy... that is if the Board agrees to take him in as a trainee. For that, he will have to wait until our next Board meeting.

Done chatting with the volunteer-wannabe, I headed over to Dahlia's house. Dahlia was done with her appointment earlier, but had to wait for me for that ride home. Her daughter Dilla, the young mom, has been offered a place at a polytechnic, and so I brought along some stuff for her including a luggage bag. I also brought along some baju kurungs I managed to collect from donors. I was hoping she'd be home, but although her last day of work at a nearby hotel was on the 31st, she continued working for a friend, helping out to cook and sell at a bazaar Ramadhan. She wanted to earn as much as she could before she furthers her studies, because she wanted to leave as much money as she could for her 2 1/2 year old daughter.

Truly, I am impressed. Despite the fact that the little girl was a result of a rape case (when she was just at a tender age of 15), and despite quitting school after that, Dilla has proven to be a mature and responsible mother. Instead of passing the whole responsibilily of taking care of the little girl to her mother (the little girl's grandma), Dilla wants to make sure she's doing as much as she can for her daughter. And she's only 18! Oh, by the way, I did leave her some cash for her to use later on after she registers. I am sure there are other stuff she may need to pay for later.

Anyway, other than stuff for Dilla, among the things I managed to collect from donors were some new (old stock) children clothings. So there were stuff for Dilla's younger siblings and of course her daughter too. I loved seeing the excited children trying out the clothes. And oh, since I had earlier on delivered an oven and a mixer (donated by my family/friends) for Dahlia and Dilla to start baking at home to earn an income, I was also given 2 types of cookies they had baked (yes, using the donated oven and mixer).

Next up, I headed over to a nearby supermarket to meet up with another client, Maya. She stays a bit further up north, but Maya agreed to meet me in Taiping. Maya's daughters had been performing quite well in their studies, and this time her 2nd daughter had been offered a place for Asasi. I had another luggage bag in my car meant for this girl. And since I've been told she may need to buy some books and lab kits later, I told her I had already banked in some cash into her account for her to use when the need arises.

I wish these girls success. Hopefully one day they will become successful women, and they will be able to help others as well, especially their own family.