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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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

14 years as a volunteer

It is already February 2018 and I have yet to publish a single posting in my blog this year. While I am aware that not as many people read blogs nowadays (at least not MY blog), I do have a small number of donors who aren’t my FB friends (most of my updates are now posted on FB), who deserve to get some updates from time to time. So I can’t abandon my blog altogether.

The Buddies Society of Ipoh will be 14 this year. Although Buddies of Ipoh was formed earlier in the late 90’s as a wing under the Perak Family Health Association (back then known as Perak Family Planning Association), we registered as a society officially in 2004 and since then we were no longer under PFHA. I joined the association the very same year, in 2004, not far off from the date of Buddies’ official date of registration. So it’s easy for me to keep track of how many years I’ve been with Buddies, all I need to do is to take a look at the society’s certificate of registration.

To date I’ve been assigned to over 80 cases, which I believe is the highest number of clients ever assigned to any of our volunteers. During the recent board meeting, some of the male volunteers mentioned that for most of the cases assigned to them, after a few follow-ups, the clients are no longer interested to keep in touch. I guess all they needed were some initial info they wanted to know, after that they no longer wanted anyone to call them to ask how they’re doing etc.

I guess the ladies are different, especially when they are single mothers having to take care of their children and are left with nothing but the virus by their late husbands. Many of them need some sort of support system, especially those whose families aren’t aware of their HIV status.

Of the 80 over cases assigned to me to date, 13 of them have passed on. A few have moved to other states (therefore no longer covered by Buddies) and some I’ve lost touch with (changed phone numbers and never informed me and defaulted hospital appointments as well). I am however still actively in touch with 30 of them. I do reduce my visits/calls to clients who are becoming more and more independent, particularly those whose children previously covered by our Education Sponsorship program, who are now already working and therefore able to support their respective families. That’s the whole purpose of our support service… to help them become independent instead of becoming dependent on us.

Yes, there are some who tend to ask for everything they can think of the moment we start helping them, but I always tell them that our financial assistance is limited to their children’s education. And if they still keep trying to ask for more, I usually just ignore, especially when I know they are actually capable of working.

All in all, my 14 years with Buddies had been an eye-opening experience, and while I do admit sometimes it can get frustrating when some of the clients I try to help aren’t even bothered to put in any effort on their part, I have no regrets whatsoever becoming a volunteer. It was the best decision I made, not only for the families I try to help, but also for my own good.