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, 28 September 2017

Targetting the teenagers

While the main objective of the Buddies Society of Ipoh is to provide moral and emotional support to People Living With HIV (PLHIV) and their families, we do try to get involved in awareness campaigns from time to time whenever we can. As for financial support, we concentrate on children education, that is to help out with the educational needs of the infected and/or affected PLHIV children. My main target... the teenagers! For awareness campaigns, I prefer to go to schools to empower the teenagers with the necessary knowledge on HIV/AIDS. For educational support of the infected/affected children, as far as possible I want them to go farther than just SPM.

However, with limited manpower (no full time staff and majority of volunteers have their own full time jobs), our involvement in awareness campaigns is limited. Basically we only get involved in exhibitions and talks whenever invited. In other words, we don't organise the campaigns, we only participate.

For the first half of the year, things were rather quiet for our awareness programmes. But this month alone, I've been invited to give talks to 2 schools. Last week, to about 200 form 6 students and early this week, to about 300 students from form 2 right up to form 5. Back when I initially started to give talks on HIV/AIDS, the contents of my talks were merely explaining about what HIV & AIDS were, how they spread and how they do not spread. After years of experience, especially in dealing hands on with real life HIV cases, I now make sure I also share some real life stories with the students. To me, it is important that they know what the PLHIV and their families went through, how they got into the mess they were in, and how it impacted their lives.

As for the educational support to the infected/affected children, while our Education Sponsorship Programme covers only schooling expenses up to form 5/form 6 in government schools, I do try my best to encourage the children to go farther than just SPM or STPM. It gives me great satisfaction whenever any of the sponsored children decides to further their studies. While our Education Sponsorship do not cover higher education, whenever any of these children get any offers and need some cash for registration and initial expenses, all I need to do is to update my facebook status about it and usually within less than an hour, there's always someone willing to chip in. For that I am very thankful.

Every year, once the SPM/STPM results are released, I'd start targetting the sponsored children who just got their results, gauging what fields they're interested in. If they are academically inclined, I need to make sure they apply for suitable courses. If they aren't academically inclined, I'd encourage them to go for skill training courses. To date, we already have one who graduated with a degree, a few with diplomas and a few more with vocational certificates. They are now working and are able to help out with their respective families' living expenses. Many more are now in local universities, polytechnics or skill training colleges.

I may not get any cash incentives from my voluntary work, but the satisfaction I get whenever any of these children succeed, is totally PRICELESS.