It's mid-December and I'm done with this year's back-to-school-shopping (BTSS). 6 rounds of shopping. 5 different venues. 40 children. 23 families. Close to RM8K spent.
Since I don't visit my clients as often as I used to, I usually take the opportunity to catch up with my clients during BTSS, to find out how they and their children are doing.
Starting off this year's BTSS was Kak Aida. Since Kak Aida had to come to Ipoh for her hospital appointment, I made special arrangements to take her and her son to shop for the boy's schooling needs on the very same day in Ipoh. That way, Kak Aida didn't have to come to Ipoh too often, and I didn't have to drive all the way to her place to take the boy shopping. It was a win-win situation for the both of us. When Kak Aida's case was first referred to me, all her 3 boys were still in school. The youngest boy will be in form 5 next year, so this year's would be the last BTSS for them.
Round 2 of BTSS was also in Ipoh. Since a client of mine, Yana, who stays in Grik needed to come to Ipoh for her hospital appointment, I made arrangements for the other Ipoh group recipients to shop for their schooling needs on the same day. But the Ipoh group is smaller this year, because many of the previous years' recipients are no longer in school. Other than Yana's one and only child, the others were Julia's 2 youngest children (forms 4 and 2) and Fuzi's HIV+ son, Ijam who will be in form 4 next year. Fuzi's youngest son, 11, is still unable to go to school because of his citizenship status.
For round 3 of BTSS, I headed over to Kuala Kangsar. 4 families were supposed to join this round of BTSS, but one of them didn't turn up till the end. Another client almost missed the boat because she totally forgot. She only realised it when I called to ask her if she was coming. Since she was stuck at home having to take care of unwell family members (MIL, SIL, uncle, you name 'em), she quickly told her 2 daughters to get on the motorbike and meet me at the agreed place. Only one of the girls was eligible for BTSS this year since the older daughter just recently sat for her SPM. When I asked what her plans were after SPM results are announced, she told me she was planning to take up form six.
Round 4 of BTSS was held in Batu Gajah. There used to be a big group for my Batu Gajah BTSS, but this year, we only had 6 children from 4 families since many of the children have left school and there were no new clients with school-going children.
BTSS round 5 was held in Kampar, not only for my Kampar clients but also my Sungkai clients who agreed to come all the way to Kampar. 5 families involved this time, but only one child from each family. 3 families with only the youngest child still in school, while 2 others just joined this year's BTSS since their children will start primary school in 2018.
The final round of this year's BTSS was held in Taiping, with the biggest group involving 17 children from 6 families. Yah, who used to "star" in my blog during my early blogging years (remember Yah Ah Ngau & Mr Darling?) this time came with her 2 daughters. Her eldest is now doing her practical training while her one and only son (the ADHD boy) quit school and is doing odd jobs. The youngest girl, who I used to visit when she was still a toddler, will be in year 6 next year. How time flies.
Another client, Dahlia, came with 6 of her 7 children. (Her eldest Adila, the young mom who was raped and gave birth when she was 15, is now studying at a polytechnic somewhere). The youngest is still a toddler, so no school stuff for him. So we had to shop for the schooling needs of 5 of her children, from kindergarten right up to form 5. Still a long way to go for her.
Ok, time to submit my claims. I'm also beginning to get the lists of the children's various fees and workbooks, so yep, will need to start calculating those as well.