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)

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Fuzi's anxiety

Fuzi called me yesterday. She just realized that her blood test at the hospital next week so happens to be on the same day as her case at the Mahkamah Syariah. Realizing it just a few days before the day (it’s supposed to be this coming Wednesday), she started to panic - which was why she called me to ask what she should do.

Actually, there’s nothing for Fuzi to worry about. The blood test can be done before or after the specified date as long as the results reach the HIV clinic before her appointment with the doctor. And her appointment is 2 weeks after the blood test, and so there’s ample time.

Unlike some clients who aren’t compliant with their appointments and medications, Fuzi on the other hand is the kind who goes “by the book”. If you tell her 10 am, it’s 10 am. If you tell her tomorrow, it’s tomorrow. If you tell her cannot, it’s cannot. Yep, that’s good really, although at times she tends to panic even when the situation is rather flexible.

Anyway, I told her not to worry and just go to the Mahkamah Syariah first for her case. If the case ends early, then she can go straight to the hospital after that for her blood test. If not, she can always go to the hospital the next day.

Oh, Fuzi will also need to bring Ijam along for the blood test as he needs to get another blood test done before he starts on his medication. That may be a problem as Ijam is afraid of needles. One time when he knew his mother wanted to bring him to the hospital, Fuzi had to chase him around the house to get him. Finally she managed to coax him… I mean… BRIBE him by offering him a new toy if he agreed to go. And he did go. It didn’t matter if Fuzi bought him a cheap toy, as long as it’s a new toy!

I guess for next week’s appointment, Fuzi needs to bribe him with another toy.

I just hope things will go smoothly for Fuzi – her court case and the blood tests for both herself and her son.

Actually I can’t wait for the court case either. I sure hope Fuzi will be able to get her marriage cert legalized at last so she will no longer have to worry about her children’s citizenship status. And I hope the fine imposed on her will not be too high.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Of PLWHAs and Volunteers

We had just finished the elections of office bearers during our AGM last week when a call came in on my hand phone from an unfamiliar number. I jokingly told my colleagues somebody was already calling me to congratulate me on my new post…

I was taken by surprise when the guy who called introduced himself as so and so from Cameron Highlands Hospital. He said Yah was in Cameron Highlands that day and did not bring along her medication – her HIV meds which she was not supposed to miss. So she went to the hospital to ask if they could supply her with the particular meds. Not knowing the name of the drug, she just told them “ubat yang warna biru tu”. Duh! When they insisted to know the name of the drug, she gave them my phone number, telling them that I was the one who’s taking care of her. (Huh?? Since when did I become her nanny?!)

I told the guy I’m from an NGO which provides support service, and as such matters regarding medication etc must be referred direct to the HIV clinic, not to us volunteers.

Yah… Yah… who does she think I am… easily giving away my phone number to others? And what was she doing in Cameron Highlands?! If it was a planned trip, she should have remembered to take her meds along. Did she go for an unplanned date or something?

Aduuuh… I miss the old Yah lah. I mean the pre-Mr. Darling Yah. *Sigh*

Anyway, lucky me, during my recent holidays, none of my PLWHA clients called. I only told Fuzi about it when I visited her last week but none of my other clients knew about my trip to Langkawi. Good thing none of them had problems to discuss during that time. So that was really a good break for me.

But just one day back from Langkawi, I received a text message from Shila, telling me that she had missed her medication for 2 consecutive nights already. When asked why, she said she was so tired she slept early and as such she missed her medication which she’s supposed to take at 9 pm. I told her that even if she was tired, she should have asked someone else in her house (her mother or her sister) to wake her up at 9pm to enable her to take her meds. Or at least she should just set her alarm to ring at 9 pm so that she’d be reminded of her medication whether or not she’s sleeping at that time. She has not been doing so because she said so far she had not missed her meds.

That’s the trouble with some of these clients. I always tell them to set the alarm (either alarm clock or their hand phone) so that they’d be reminded EVERY time to take their meds. But NOOOO…. they always insist they won’t forget and as such there was no need to set the alarm. So stubborn! *Sigh*…

Last night we had our Board Meeting – the first board meeting after our recent AGM. Hence the first board meeting I chaired. Last night’s meeting was more to determine who’s taking which portfolio. Something like sorting out our cabinet lah – except that we didn’t have to worry about watikah perlantikan or angkat sumpah… (sumpah-menyumpah maybe lah!)

I am still handling the Education Fund and Sponsorship for Children, so those of you who are sponsoring any children through Buddies, you can still liaise with me on this matter.

Other portfolios include Outreach, Client Welfare, Training, Volunteer Care, Fellowship, Fund Raising, HIV Clinic and Buddy Bears.

What was obvious during the last AGM was that we are really in desperate need of more volunteers. It’s the same pool of people we have to pull into the various sub-committees… and as such, I’m afraid soon we’re going to have a group of volunteers suffering from burnout (myself included).

So last night, we decided to create a new portfolio for Publicity and Recruitment. This sub-committee will have to come up with ways and means not only to publicize our NGO, but also to create more awareness amongst the public on HIV/AIDS. Along the way, we hope to be able to get more volunteers (especially the young and energetic ones) to join us.

Those of you staying in and around Ipoh - any takers?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Cuti-cuti Malaysia: Langkawi

Hi folks... I'm baaack!

A picture tells a thousand words, right? Well, for this posting I think I'll let the pictures do more of the story-telling...

Day 1:
We arrived at Kuah Jetty at about 2.00 pm - Nine of us: my partner, myself, our 4 staff, my partner's husband, their daughter, and one of our staff's husband. Only 2 males - and as such the 2 male species became our drivers!

As soon as we reached Kuah, first thing first, we rented 2 cars. Then off to Hotel Helang to check into our rooms. Wow, the rooms were spacious and each room had 2 double beds. If we knew earlier, we could have just booked one room for the 4 single ladies!

After a short rest, we headed direct to Oriental Village... that's where the base station for the cable cars going up Gunung Machinchang is situated. Gayat or not gayat, all our staff took the cable car ride.

Looking down from inside the cable car.

My office mates and I at the middle station. Squatting in front is my partner's daughter.

Upon reaching the top station, we immediately headed down the tracks to go to the "hanging" bridge. The walk down wasn't so bad, but getting back up was quite a task, especially for the unfit ones.
The bridge.

The bridge as seen from the platform at the top station.

710 meters above sea level.

Then, down at the Oriental village...

Me: Oi Lang, why you looking at my face? Look at the camera and smile lah!
Eagle: Oi makcik, how to smile? You realise or not there's a snake behind us?


Day 2:
Morning, off we went island hopping. Rented a speed boat to go around Langkawi and visit 3 of the many islands.

Welcome to Pulau Dayang Bunting!

The welcoming committee!

At Tasik Dayang Bunting, in the middle of the island.

'Em fish nibbling at my feet... eee geli...

Watching the eagles at Pulau Singa Besar

Arrival at Pulau Beras Basah. That's our boat - the one with white body and blue roof.

The white sandy beaches and clear water at Beras Basah.

Walked along the beach and saw this... anak pokok mengkudu.

As I walked further, this scene menyakitkan mata. See the plastic bottles?

After lunch, off we went to Underwater world. Here are amongst the species you can find at Underwater World....

And finally, some mermaids in one of the tanks... wearing tudung and one of them holding a camera some more!!
Oh OK, I actually saw our reflection and decided to take the photo...

3rd day:
Early morning, after Subuh prayer, I went for a walk with my room-mate. We walked about 2 km and as we got to the beach, this was the scene...

Then as we were walking back to the hotel, one red proton saga passed from behind us and suddenly stopped. The lady driver who saw us, turned around...

Lady: "Nak pi Padang Matsirat ka?"
Me: "Dak, nak pi dekat depan tu saja! Dok kat Hotel Helang."
Lady: "Ohh... ingat tadi nak bagi tumpang."

Yep, that's how friendly the locals are. The lady didn't even know me yet she offered a ride.

Anyway, we checked out at 11 am and then went around the island.

Uhh... is that a scare-crow in jeans and t-shirt?

After some last minute shopping at pekan Kuah, we headed back to the jetty, returned the rented cars and took the 3 pm ferry back to Kuala Kedah....



Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Elections

Elections? Hmm… I didn’t touch anything on the general elections before this when so many other bloggers did so. As I mentioned before, I hate politics. As such I prefer my blog to stay out of politics.

So, why am I now blogging about the elections, 11 days after the 12th General Elections are over?

To those who clicked on the link to this posting expecting to read my take on the recent general elections, sorry folks, wrong blog!

I am not talking about the General Elections. I am talking about a different kind of elections.

For this particular election, we don’t have campaigns. We don’t have posters. We don’t fight to get elected. We instead fight NOT to get elected.

Yep, I am talking about my NGO’s election of new office bearers.

We had our AGM last night, and as usual, after the presentation and adoption of the various reports from the previous office bearers; were the election of the new office bearers.

Being a low-profile NGO with such a small number of members, our election of the new office bearers was such a simple affair.

“I nominate so and so.”
“I second.”
“I propose nomination closed.”
“I second.”

It was nominate-second-close-second, nominate-second-close-second. We didn’t have to vote for a single post. As a matter of fact we had to beg people to be in the committee. Obviously we're in dire need of more volunteers to join the organisation!

Our members if possible would prefer to stay out of the committee to avoid the extra work other than the voluntary support service for our PLWHA clients. We're all working people with other commitments and so additional responsibilites to our voluntary work may be quite taxing for some of us. The only post which we wouldn't mind accepting is probably just for the post of honorary auditor who is only required to audit (definition of “audit” will depend on whether the auditor actually bothers to go through all the documents) and sign the financial reports prepared by the treasurer at the end of every term to be presented during the next AGM.

I was the treasurer for the last term. By the time I prepared the financial report for the year ended December 2007 and called the honorary auditor to check and sign the statements, she actually FORGOT she was THE auditor!!

“Ha? I’m the auditor aaa?”

Aiyo, aiyo, aiyo, aiyo…

Well, the committee elections are over now. I am no longer the treasurer. YEE HAR!!

Time to rejoice? Well, not really.

I am now…


THE CHAIR.

Aww shucks!!

Well, since the next board meeting is due next Tuesday night, I reminded the newly elected office bearers about the meeting. The reminder came with a threat…

Those who fail to attend the meeting will be nominated as the next chairperson! Hehehe… (Don’t go using this kind of threat against politicians ye hear?!)

Before I assume my post as the chairperson, it’s time to take a break – from both office and voluntary work. Call it perfect timing or what… it’s time for the annual company-sponsored trip for my office staff. (Just a small group lah… my office got few staff only meh!) Last year we went for a 2D/1N trip to Genting Highlands. This year it’ll be a 3D/2N trip to Langkawi.

So I will be away and offline these next few days.

Langkawi, here I come!



p/s

I don't think I'd be basking under the sun at any of the beaches, so if you happen to be in Langkawi over the next few days and you so happen to bump into a dugong look-alike, that won't be me! Errr... duyong? Jauh sekali...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Fuzi's family - 2 years later

I was actually planning to visit Fuzi yesterday afternoon – diapers, milk powder and some other foodstuff for the other kids already loaded into my car. But just as I was about to have my lunch, a neighbor called to tell me about the death of one of our kampong folks. I figured it was only right to postpone the visit to Fuzi’s house to visit the family of the deceased instead.

And so I had to wait until today to visit Fuzi to send over the things and also to hand over the pocket money and bus fares for the 3 schooling children. Only Fuzi and her 2 younger children were home when I got there. The other 3 were in school, either for their school’s afternoon session, or for those with morning session, for some extra classes or co-curriculum activities.

I was assigned to be Fuzi’s buddy since 2006. Imagine at that time, the only source of income for Fuzi was the RM115 monthly welfare aid. What could one buy with RM115 per month? Even for one who doesn’t have anybody else to support, RM115 is not enough. Fuzi had to support 5 kids! Worst still, due to her HIV, she couldn’t breastfeed her baby and that meant she needed to buy milk powder too – something which is definitely not cheap. Fuzi couldn’t work, because if she did, nobody would be home to take care of her younger children while the older ones are in school. She did try to apply for jobs at some plant nurseries nearby where she hoped she could bring along her younger kids, but the other workers at the nurseries who knew she had HIV protested to their employer.

How Fuzi and her children managed to survive at that time, I myself wonder. Thank goodness, the teachers at her children’s school were kind and responsible enough to help out where they could.

Now, almost 2 years later, Fuzi’s RM115 welfare aid has been increased to RM400. An anonymous donor who had been following the stories in my blog had also been transferring a fixed amount of money into Fuzi’s bank account on a monthly basis. And beginning this year, Fuzi’s 3 schooling children’s educational needs are fully sponsored through our Education Sponsorship for Children which we managed to finalize late last year.




This is the lonely stretch of road Fuzi's children had to use to cycle to school. No street lamps. Thanks to the Education Sponsorship for Children, we have managed to arrange for school buses for them. A much safer way to go to school!

My heartfelt thanks to all sponsors and not forgetting the anonymous donors who had been contributing in cash and in kinds to help out, not only Fuzi, but other families as well.

Fuzi’s main problem right now is to get her marriage cert legalized so that her children’s citizenship status will no longer be subject to uncertainties. Hopefully the matter will be settled by next month when her case is called at the Syariah Court.

Financially, I am relieved to note that Fuzi is no longer as desperate as she was 2 years ago.

But then again, no money in the world will be able to compensate Ijam, Fuzi’s cute 6 year old boy who has to live with HIV all his life.

Sigh…

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Giving talks...

I was going through the Buddies’ Annual Report for 2007 and as I was reading the diary of events for the year, I noticed… hey, the first activity for last year was a talk on HIV/AIDS which I gave to students of a secondary school here in Ipoh.

Oooh… I remember that talk alright. It was a co-ed school and it was only the second day of school after the long holidays. The students were still in holiday mood, proper classes had not started yet (otherwise I’m sure the students would be glad to get a break from their classes) and even worse, the whole week the students had to endure talks, talks, and more talks organized by their teachers.

My talk was supposed to start at 10.30am. Before mine, there was another talk which started at 8.30 am. The talks were held at classes on the 2nd floor of the school building. I was still at the ground floor when I heard the noise coming from the classes where the first talk was held. Oh dear, I thought… what was I getting myself into?!

When I got to the classes (they opened up a few classes for the talks), it was obvious the students were not listening at all. The poor speaker and her colleagues were having a hard time getting their attention. And to think that the speakers were actually trained for this sort of things while for me, it was only my second time at giving such a talk, particularly on the topic of HIV/AIDS. I had been involved in debates waaaay back during my school days, but that was it. Nothing more.

The first talk I gave was in 2006 and it went smoothly as it was held some time in the middle of the year and the girls actually welcomed the break from their usual classes. And since it was an all-girls school, they were not shy to ask questions. The interaction was great despite it being quite a big crowd.

But for this second talk, I knew I was in for a hard time. If the more experienced speakers for the talk on the earlier topic were having problems, it would even be harder for me as I was alone without anyone to assist me. And the students were... ROWDY!!

By the time the microphone was handed to me for the talk on HIV/AIDS, the students were totally restless. Even the presence of their stern looking headmaster couldn’t shut them up. I had no choice but to just continue with the talk even though I knew only those who purposely sat at the front row were interested enough to listen. I actually had to shout to be heard even with the microphone. Otherwise even those at the front row wouldn’t be able to hear my voice – the students were making so much noise. They were not only talking, some were even shouting to each other (otherwise they couldn’t hear themselves too I guess!).

The teacher in charge and the headmaster apologized to me after the talk as they themselves were not able to control their students.

Thank goodness it wasn’t my first time giving a talk. If it was, then I probably would not want to give another talk again, ever!

I was not prepared to deal with a rowdy and restless bunch of about 200 - 300 students, really. If they were just bored and yawning away, I probably could have still come up with something to wake them up a bit. But when they were not even bothered to listen at all and the noise was just like at a pasar malam, I simply didn’t know what else to do. I think I’d need more training to equip myself with “ammunitions” to get the attention of rowdy students. Like an M16 maybe? ;)

But having said that, I do hope that any schools wishing to organize talks, would consider NOT making it compulsory for the students to listen to one talk after another – unless it’s for a small group which is easier to control. Having to listen to too many talks in a day, I would be bored too if I were them – although I would only be yawning away without making any disturbing noise lah… I good girl… not rowdy one… :)

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Another missing child



This time, an 11 year old boy from Kg Kerinchi.



Muhamad Asmawi Jalaludin went out on 9th March 2008, to play with his friends at the Kg Kerinchi flats, about 200m from his own home. His friends said he left at 6.30 pm but apparently he never got home.

When he left his house, he was wearing a pink t-shirt and grey shorts.

His mother had received an SMS demanding for ransom.

More here.

Those with any information on his whereabouts, please contact Rakan Cop at 03-21159999 or SMS to 32728 or call Rozita (Asmawi's mother) at 019-2550279.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Ada bilik kosong?

When Yah called me last time to tell me she was already working in Ipoh, I was made to understand that she was renting a room near her workplace. As such, I thought there should be no problem accommodation-wise. So when she called last Friday asking me about getting a cheap flat for her to rent, I was wondering why she would want to move further from her workplace.

Apparently when she said she was renting a room near her workplace, she was actually staying at her sister-in-law’s house. Now, if readers had been following Yah’s story from the beginning, you would remember that Yah had been having some problems with her in-laws – from mother-in-law, brother-in-law right to sister-in-law. They were very calculative people who would even charge for every single thing and they even had the cheek to ask Yah to pay them their share when Yah withdrew her EPF. It was Yah’s EPF in the first place, why on earth would Yah need to give a certain percentage to them?? All because of money, the in-laws became out-laws!

Despite all that, Yah still decided to stay with her sister-in-law when she got a job in Ipoh. Why on earth did she do that? Beats me! In the first place, I still feel Yah should have tried to get a job nearer to her kampong where her children are.

Now the problem is surfacing again. According to Yah, all her pay is gone having to pay for her sister-in-law’s household needs – especially since the husband is a drug addict! Now Yah wants to move out and she heard about the cheap flats for rent meant for poor people. That was why she called me.

Actually the flats are meant for poor families. Yah, on the other hand, wants to stay alone! No way will her application be approved unless she’s bringing all her children to stay with her. Well, if she does bring them here, then who will be taking care of them while she’s at work, especially when she has to follow her employer for outstation catering jobs?

When she found out that she’s not eligible for the flats, she asked if I could look around for rooms to let. Frankly, at the area where she works, there are lots of rooms to let. She would be the best person to scout around for one. She can’t expect me to be her kuli to look for a room for her to stay when she's more familiar with the area. I told her to take the initiative to find one herself.

On another note, her 2 daughters who went to an orphanage since the beginning of this year are now back at home for the school holidays. Earlier they were the ones who wanted to go to the orphanage, now they want out! According to Yah, her second daughter Kak Ngah, the chubby one, is now just as skinny as her Kak Long. Oh wow! She must have lost a lot of weight. She’s not happy at the orphanage as she said the seniors there like to bully her. Adoii… at an orphanage also like that ah?

Yah told them to give it another month or so before they should really decide if they want out for sure. Maybe they just needed some time to adjust. I guess we shall just wait and see, although I do hope Yah does not see them as a burden if they do come home for good.

Anyway, there was one thing I noticed. For the past 2 calls from Yah, she did not mention anything about Mr. Darling. Not a single word!

Hmmm… I hope… I really, really hope… that means good news. Ye think?

Saturday, 8 March 2008

To All Women Out There!


8th March, is International Women’s Day. This day last year, my blog posting was a special dedication to HIV women.

This year, since there are too many serious stuff around because of the general elections, I thought maybe we could lighten up a bit – but still on a serious issue… BREAST CANCER. We can still have a good laugh on serious matters and see the lighter side of things, can't we? The following was forwarded to me via email some time ago and I think today is a good day for me to share this with my blog readers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GO GET YOUR MAMMIES GRAMMED

For years and years they told me,
Be careful of your breasts.
Don't ever squeeze or bruise them.
And give them monthly tests.

So I heeded all their warnings,
And protected them by law.
Guarded them very carefully,
And I always wore my bra.

After 30 years of astute care,
My gyno, Dr Pruitt,
Said I should get a Mammogram
"OK," I said, "let's do it."

"Stand up here real close" she said,
(She got my boob in line),
"And tell me when it hurts," she said,
"Ah yes! Right there, that's fine."

She stepped upon a pedal,
I could not believe my eyes!
A plastic plate came slamming down,
My hooter's in a vise!

My skin was stretched and mangled,
From underneath my chin.
My poor boob was being squashed,
To Swedish Pancake thin.

Excruciating pain I felt,
Within it's viselike grip.
A prisoner in this vicious thing,
My poor defenseless tit!

"Take a deep breath" she said to me,
Who does she think she's kidding?!?
My chest is mashed in her machine,
And woozy I am getting.

"There, that's good," I heard her say,
(The room was slowly swaying.)
"Now, let's have a go at the other one."
Have mercy, I was praying.

It squeezed me from both up and down,
It squeezed me from both sides.
I'll bet SHE'S never had this done,
To HER tender little hide.

Next time that they make me do this,
I will request a blindfold.
I have no wish to see again,
My knockers getting steam rolled.

If I had no problem when I came in,
I surely have one now.
If there had been a cyst in there,
It would have gone "ker-pow!"

This machine was created by a man,
Of this, I have no doubt.
I'd like to stick his balls in there,
And, see how THEY come out!



OK ladies, now that you have had your laugh, remember...Breast Cancer Awareness... Go have those boobs checked out and stay healthy! Pass the message on to your mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins ---- even your enemies!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And oh, remember to get enough exercise ya? Keep fit, and stay healthy!


Pic stolen from icanhascheezburger.com

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Clinic duty: 5/3/08

I was on clinic duty again yesterday. Usually I’d go a bit early so I’d have ample time to find a parking spot but yesterday I had some business to settle at the Customs office first so I didn’t make it that early.

I wasn’t THAT late either. In fact I got to the clinic just in time before SN referred the first case to us – a Chinese guy in his late 30’s who is still an active drug user. I couldn’t really follow whatever was being discussed as the conversation was in Chinese language, so all I did was to jot down this guy’s particulars in our contact report. This guy actually just got discharged from the hospital for various ailments. That was how he got to know about his HIV.

The next case referred to us was another Chinese guy in his 50’s. Again, I was lost as I didn’t understand whatever was discussed. Aiyah! I think I need to take a crash course in Mandarin lah! There wasn’t much detail in this medical file either so there was not much info I could gather from there. So we had to depend on whatever my colleague could gather from their conversation. Meanwhile I just looked through the various types of HIV drugs sample…


Then SN referred a young Malay guy in his 20’s (Ahah! It was then my colleague’s turn to feel lost as his BM is very bad…). You guessed it, drugs. But I was pleased to note that this guy is getting support from his family. In fact, he came to the hospital accompanied by his father. I have seen so many young men infected with HIV due to drug injection being rejected by their family – by their fathers especially! To accompany their infected sons to the hospital would be a big disgrace to the fathers! In fact I remember meeting one HIV+ guy who was then still warded at the hospital due to various ailments, when asked for his address, he couldn’t give any as he wasn’t sure where he could go once discharged from the hospital!

After that, a Malay couple was called into the room. The husband (the infected person) was wheeled into the room by his wife. Why did he need a wheelchair? No, not because he was weak due to his HIV, but because he had lost one leg. He was involved in an accident which occurred a few years ago. And no, it wasn’t a road accident. He actually got electrocuted while carrying out his duty and as a result, his left leg had to be amputated. No doubt he got all the necessary compensation from Socso etc and his employer is paying his medical bills for life, but what’s all that compared to the leg he lost, eh?

There was not much in his file on his background info, especially on how he got infected with HIV. It was only in the course of our conversation that I managed to find out that he was an injecting drug user. His wife seemed to be very supportive despite not being infected. They have 4 teenage children doing quite okay in school and they both don’t want the children to know about their father’s HIV infection. For the moment the children only know that their father has some lung problems. Having teenage children, the couple was afraid the children may rebel if they found out what their father did. This was where I found out that the guy was a drug user. I then asked when he stopped taking drugs. To my surprise, the guy selamba-ly answered, “Mana ada berhenti lagi. Taklah teruk macam dulu, tapi nak berhenti terus tak bolehlah. Lemah satu badan nanti.”

Hmmm… he was lucky his employer never caught him taking drugs. Otherwise I don’t think they’d pay for his medical bills. Given his physical condition, I wonder too how he gets his drug supply. Don’t tell me his wife has got to go out to get the drugs for him! (I didn’t ask…)

Actually at the hospital in the town they stay in, there is a clinic for HIV patients. But since they do know many staff there, they didn’t want to risk having the town folks knowing about this guy’s HIV infection. That’s why they’re willing to come all the way to Ipoh for his appointments. Luckily they do have a car, and the wife can drive. Anyway, in this case, the one who may need moral support more would probably his wife. So I gave her my number in case she needed to talk.

There were no other new cases referred to us after that. After a while, I went over to the doctor’s room to check if there were any more cases to be referred to us. No doubt there were many HIV patients waiting to see the doctor, but only new cases are referred to the Buddies.

When I got to the doctor’s room, I was told by SN that there were no more new cases for the day. Then suddenly the doctor reminded SN to inform me about one case they saw the week before when the Buddies were not on duty.

Apparently there was this one guy in his late 30’s, staying in a small kampong in another town, who was already too weak to come on his own but stays only with his elderly mother. Since there’s nobody else around, his frail mother has to escort him to Ipoh for his appointments. They come from a poor family, and every time they come, they’d need to spend about RM100 or so to travel. So this guy tends to miss his appointments even though he is already on medication.

The problem is, even when they do have money for traveling, given their condition, it would be difficult for them to travel by bus. By taxi? The fares would probably be exorbitant! So the mother tried to get help from their neighbors. But guess what? While they pitied the elderly lady, nobody was willing to let her HIV infected son into their car.

I haven’t met or spoken to this guy or his mother yet; and I am not quite sure yet what I can do for them; but my colleague is for the time being trying to arrange for welfare help for them.

Speaking of welfare, there is good news for Fuzi. Remember she used to get just RM115 monthly welfare aid as Bantuan Am? Well, her application for Bantuan Kanak-kanak has been approved and beginning this year, she’s getting RM400 a month instead. Still nothing to shout about, but it’s at least something! I hope there will also be good news coming in the form of a legalized marriage cert to enable her children to apply for their MyKad. But her case will only be heard in early April, so I guess we will just have to wait.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The Tale of Pi's TWIST...

Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, where the possibles were impossible and the impossibles were possible... emmm… no lah… it wasn’t THAT long ago, neither was it THAT far away… (and where anything also is possible...)

It was just a year ago… and it was only in the blog kingdom... or was it queendom? Whateverlah, asal bukan condom!
(where men rule = kingdom; where women rule = queendom; where conmen rule = condom!!)

Oops, sorry, I digressed. Where was I? A year ago? What happened a year ago? Ah yes, exactly a year ago, a blog called Pi’s TWIST was born!

The blog tells about the work of a particular volunteer by the name of Pi Bani, giving moral and emotional support to People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Since Pi Bani was (and still is) not smart enough to write about the medical and scientific facts on HIV/AIDS (science subjects dia masa sekolah dulu hancusss…), she wrote on the personal human aspects instead, telling real life stories of her PLWHA clients and their families.

And WHOAA… whaddaya know… there were all sorts of stories with all sorts of dilemma and all sorts of twists! Having been assigned to so many PLWHA clients, Pi Bani had to listen to various kinds of problems faced by her clients. Stigma & discrimination problems... family problems… marriage problems… financial problems… school problems… angau problems…

These true life experiences were the main ingredients of Pi Bani’s postings… and these true life experiences shall continue to be the main ingredients in Pi’s TWIST.

Ahhh… with so many clients to handle, how she wished she could just be a Super heroine and fly from one place to another just like this...


(Oh, the V stands for Volunteer ya... not Villain!)


OII PI BANI! GET REAL LAH!!



Oops! Sorry folks, just some of my merepek and merapu stuff in conjunction with the 1st Anniversary of Pi’s TWIST!



OK, OK, next posting, back to reality… I hope... ;)

*Image of Super V ciluk-ed from photobucket.com

Sunday, 2 March 2008

House visits

I was in my office on Friday afternoon when a text message came in from Mrs K’s number. Usually, her daughter Nor would be the one to send me any text messages, but since she has gone to a boarding school, this time the text message was sent by Shah, Mrs. K’s eldest son.

Shah told me that his youngest sister’s milk powder was running low and he asked when I’d be coming. He said Nor would be home next week during the school holidays and so he thought I could come then. But during school holidays there’d be kenduris for me to attend, so no, I can’t visit them then. Since I’d be on clinic duty this coming Wednesday, I was thinking of visiting them later that day, after office hours. So I replied Shah’s SMS, asking if anyone would be home on Wednesday after work. The reply came back from Shah…

“Ibu kerja. Ayah dengan Shah ada kat rumah. Shah cuti atau ponteng sebab makcik nak datang.”

WHOA!! Now hold your horses, boy! I’m the coordinator for my NGO’s Children Education Fund and we’ve been working hard last year to materialize the Education Sponsorship for Children. And you want to make ME as an excuse to ponteng sekolah??? No way, boy, no way! Shah will be sitting for his SPM this year. No doubt he feels he has no hope at all in doing well in the exams, but that doesn’t mean he should give up altogether.

I told Shah not to miss school simply because I was coming. After all, Shah is usually home by 2 pm so he should be home by the time I reach their house. But I didn’t want to take any chances. I told him I’d try to visit on Sunday instead. His mother should be home then.

Hana too sent me a text message to thank me for the pocket money for her children. Her schooling children are under sponsorship and are eligible for pocket money every month. The credit should go to the sponsors, not me. I did tell Hana earlier to inform me if any money is needed for anything to do with her children’s schooling as the sponsorship should cover those as well. In the same message that Hana sent me, she mentioned about her eldest daughter needing to pay some things for her school sports and her monthly tuition. I thought I might as well visit Hana on the same day – on Sunday.

Actually my house lawn is due for mowing this week. That was why initially I didn’t plan to do any house visits over the weekend. But I didn’t want to risk Shah missing school because of my visit, so I might as well settle my house visits this weekend.

So today, after mowing the lawn (and after my bath of course!) , I immediately headed for Mrs. K’s house. I got there around 10 am. Mr. K’s father was also there so I had to be very careful with my words as he doesn’t know anything about his son being HIV infected. Mrs. K told me that Nor said she’d be coming home today when she heard I was coming. But I had a few more houses to go to and so I couldn’t wait. But it’s heartening to hear from Mr and Mrs K that Nor’s academic results have improved ever since she went to boarding school. They have exams every alternate week and so far Nor has been scoring 90+ for most of her subjects. Even for her worst subject, she scored 80+. That just shows that she can perform if given the opportunity. Last year she scored 2A’s and 3B’s for her UPSR despite having to miss school quite often to take care of her younger siblings.

I only stayed at their house for about 15 minutes or so. I then tried to call Lin to ask if she was home but she didn’t answer my call. Since her house is on the way, I still decided to drop by. I needed to pass her this month’s bus fares for her children. When I got to her house, her 17 year old son and her 11 year old daughter opened the door and told me that their mom was not around. For most of my other clients, I’d probably leave the bus fares with any of their older children. But knowing from Lin that her son smokes and sometimes takes his mother’s or sister’s money for whatever purposes without telling, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to leave the money with him. He may be tempted to use the money for other purposes instead. So I figured I might as well bank in the money into Lin’s bank account instead.

Next stop was supposed to be Hana’s house. But since Jah stays in the same town and I know for a fact she loves to go jalan-jalan anywhere, I told her I’d pick her up first before going to Hana’s house. After all, it would be a good idea to connect them both.

The moment I parked my car at the bottom of the hill, Jah asked which one was Hana’s house. And the moment I showed her Hana’s house, Jah screamed, “Alamak! Kita kena panjat bukit ke kak??!” Hehehe… you see, Jah, despite being the jovial type, is also a very ladylike sort of person, so climbing up the hill is considered “extreme” to her. But she managed. When Hana saw Jah, she started looking at Jah up and down. I was thinking maybe she didn’t like the idea of me bringing someone else with me. So I introduced Jah to her, telling her that Jah is her fellow PLWHA.

Actually the reason Hana was looking at Jah up and down was because she thought Jah looked familiar. After asking a few questions, apparently they found out that they had mutual school friends and they had actually met each other before way back during their school days. Such a small world indeed. Oh well, the town they’re staying in is a small town anyway…

So yeah, they hit it off quite well although Hana isn’t much of a talkative person. But with people like Jah, I think even those unable to talk would be tempted to talk! It’s not easy to see a smile on Hana’s face but today I actually saw her smile listening to Jah talking.

After leaving some money to Hana for her daughter’s tuition, we left. Hana needed to get some sleep as she’s on night shift this week, so we didn’t want to stay too long.

So off we went, this time I brought Jah for lunch before sending her back home. She of course was thrilled. Every time she comes to Ipoh she’d call me to ask if I was free to buy her lunch. This time I was in her hometown instead to buy her lunch.

I sent Jah home after lunch. Jah’s mother invited me in, so I obliged. Actually I wanted to go in even if she didn’t invite me. You see, Pi needed to pee… hehehe…

So yeah, I went to 4 of my client’s homes today but only managed meet 3 of them. It is the season where YB-wannabes are doing home visits for their campaigns. Today I was doing home visits too but nope, none of the election posters in the constituencies I visited today had my picture on them so I definitely was not campaigning lah… ;)