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Saturday, 13 February 2021

Wawa's story

When Ipoh ID clinic first referred to me Wawa's case slightly over 2 years ago, the girl was only 19+, a few months short of 20. She was then warded for a miscarriage (unwed pregnancy), and it was only then she found out she was HIV+. Apparently just the year before she was also pregnant, and safely delivered a baby, but the baby was given up for adoption. Before I went to visit Wawa, the nurses from the ID Clinic cautioned me to go visit outside of visiting hours so that I wouldn't bump into her boyfriends (yes, plural). So yes, with special arrangement by the nurses, I went to visit the girl earlier, before visiting hours.

I had initially prepared myself to be meeting a girl who may be the "wild" type, given her background told to me earlier by the nurses (twice unwed pregnancies, multiple boyfriends etc). But when I met her, she seemed to be so polite, soft spoken and showed respect to her elders (at that particular time, I was the "elder" lah). After listening to her family background, I began to understand why.

Wawa came from a broken family. Her parents were divorced since she was in her early teens. Parents went separate ways, both remarried new partners. Wawa had actually wanted to be with her mother, but her mother left her. She had been deprived of tender loving care since she was 14. Yes, she was still in touch with her father's side, but being in touch did not mean she got the much needed love. And so, she sought "love" from outside.

I'm not really sure if she finished schooling, but by the time her case was referred to me, at such a tender age, she was already staying on her own, renting a room in Ipoh. When I asked her how she managed to support herself, pay for rent, food etc, she said, "Adalah cara saya. Tu yang sekarang jadi macam ni." Yes, she "sold" herself for a living. To her, it was something she didn't want to, but had to do anyway to survive.

I was pleased when she told me that she'd be staying with her father (in another state) once she got discharged from the ward. Even her grandma offered her a home after finding out that the girl was infected with HIV. I reminded her that there's always a blessing to everything and that if she ever needed help, she could contact me.

She did stay with her father, but not for long. I guess having had her freedom for so long, she did not feel comfortable staying with her father and stepmother. She was back renting a room in Ipoh. And then... she started missing her hospital appointments... and she went missing from our radar... old number no longer in use.

The nurses did express their concern to me that the next time they'd get to see her, she'd be pregnant again. Given her lifestyle, that wouldn't be a surprise. And true enough, the next time they met her, which was last year, she was referred to them by the O&G department. She was pregnant again, and yes, another unwed pregnancy. At such a tender age of 21, she had been pregnant 3 times. This last one with a totally new boyfriend, who started to accompany her for her hospital appointments. He needed to be tested as well, and the last test done showed he was -ve. They then got engaged. Wawa by then had started working as a shop assistant at a shoe store.

Well, she was back under our radar. I kept reminding her not to miss any of her hospital or clinic appointments. We were all concerned because her viral load was very high, which wasn't a surprise given that she had defaulted her earlier appointments and treatments. This time not only her contact number was taken, but also the contact numbers of her father and her fiance.

A few months later, a doctor from a Klinik Kesihatan called me, asking if I could help find a shelter for a patient of hers, a pregnant HIV+ girl who had no money to go anywhere. After listening to the description given by the doctor, I thought the story sounded too familiar. I asked the doctor for the name of the patient she was talking about, lo and behold, it was this very same problematic girl. I told the doctor that I knew the girl and that I'd be calling the girl personally later.

I called the girl and she told me about how her fiance forced her into having sex. She wanted to run away but by then she was no longer working and didn't have any money to go anywhere. She wasn't too keen about going to a shelter home. Remembering that her grandma once offered her a home, I asked if she'd like to stay with her grandma (the grandma stays in Perak but in another town). I offered to personally send her to balik kampung if she wanted to. But her grandma didn't know about her pregnancy and so she asked me to give her a few days, so she could talk to her grandma first.

I waited for a few days, she didn't contact me. I sent her a message, asking how she was doing. Apparently she was still staying with her fiance. The nurses at ID clinic, who weren't aware of the Klinik Kesihatan story, even told me that she went for her ID appointment together with her fiance, and they looked so manja together.

Apparently they officially got married some time late last year. She no longer referred to him as "tunang saya" but instead "suami saya". But marriage didn't seem to be any better for her. She was still always seeking help for transport money when she needed to go for her appointments. Earlier this year I found out that she had missed her ID appointment despite asking me for transport money. When I asked her why she missed her appointment even after I had given her some money for her transport, she said she balik kampung after a fight with her husband.

Aaahh... I get it. Everytime they fight, it's a "I don't want to see you anymore" situation. Then the next day she'd fall in love with him again after listening to his sweet talks. Repeat.

I got fed up of her asking me for transport money every time she had a hospital or clinic appointment. So I decided to give her a small but fixed amount at the end of each month to be used for her transport money. It seemed to work. She stopped asking for money for every single appointment.

Then suddenly she texted me today, asking if I could spare her RM10. She hadn't had anything to eat since morning, she didn't have any money in her hands and there wasn't any food at home either.