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)

Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 – A recap

Pic stolen from photobucket.com

Wow! It’s already the last day of 2009. Before we move on to 2010, here’s a recap of happenings in 2009 for me…

Oh well, maybe nothing much when it came to my office activities – just the normal routine work day to day. We didn’t have any Company trips this year as our staff wanted to save money for a more exciting trip next year (insyaAllah, we’ll be going to Kuching, Sarawak for our 2010 Company trip), but we did bring our staff (on paksa-rela basis… hehe) for the Grand Tour of the nearby Gua Tempurung. And since I do love adventure, I loved that exciting tour.

me

Things were more “happening” in my voluntary work. In addition to the usual clinic duties and house visits to the homes of PLHIVs, there were quite a number of other activities.

Talks & awareness programmes

In March, I gave a talk to a group of foreign workers in a factory near Ipoh. With an all-female audience, my talk concentrated more on HIV & Women.

Then in July, I gave another talk to a group of students from a private college in Ipoh. And since the audience consisted of youths, my talk was on HIV & Youth.

Then there was the exhibition at the Meru Golf & Country Club…

exhibition1

…followed by the awareness programme at the Orang Asli Village in Kg Sg Genting, Chenderiang. For this talk, I had to re-do the slides to make it as simple as possible for the OAs. Usually, for youth or women, I’d just use the powerpoint presentations prepared by Malaysian AIDS Council.

OA

Fellowship activities

In June this year, Buddies had our retreat at Cameron Highlands. With free accommodation courtesy of our patron, petrol and food fully sponsored by Buddies Centre, if at all the volunteers needed to fork out their own money, that would only be to buy whatever souvenirs from Cameron Highlands. Only 9 volunteers attended, but it was quite a fruitful retreat.

cameron

Then there was our annual Family Day on the first Sunday of August. This year we went to the National Stud Farm in Tg. Rambutan. This one involved not only the volunteers, but also the PLHIVs and their families.

horsefarm2

We also had the Annual Anniversary lunch (anniversary of the opening of our centre) on 31st August. I didn’t attend that one because it was during Ramadhan.

And recently in December we had our 1-Malaysia Night where the theme was fancy headgears.

DSCF0225


Workshops/Conferences

Other then the International Conference on AIDS in Asia & the Pacific (ICAAP) held in Bali, which I blogged about in 3 parts here, here and here

icaap1[3]

…the only other workshop (non office work related) I attended was the half day Media Sensitisation Workshop organised by the Malaysian AIDS Council. Oh, I forgot, I did attend another workshop on “Hak Wanita Dalam Perundangan Islam” organised by the Perak Women for Women Association (PWW) together with Sisters In Islam (SIS). That was where I met Kak Ana, who runs a shelter home in Perak.

Support for PLHIVS

Of course, the bulk of my postings were more on the PLHIVs and their families. My clinic duties, my house visits, my hospital visits, my shopping for the children’s schooling needs, etc. But this year there were a few record-breaking cases (for me personally lah).

Top on the list is of course the case of Sharifah and my little Cek Mek. Never before in my life did I ever have to send someone to the hospital at 2.40 am to deliver a baby! And I had a record-breaking 21 blog postings in June this year alone, most of which were on Sharifah and Cek Mek. With a series of “Young, Single and …” parts 1, 2, 3, 4 beginning in May, then continued with the birth and adventures of My Little Cek Mek in June.

Then there’s Anita, whom I helped to escape from her evil sister’s house in August after I came back from attending ICAAP in Bali. Not only that, Anita didn’t have an IC even though she’s already 24 years of age, and because of that, she had not registered for her son’s birth cert although the boy is already 1 year plus. We’re in the process of solving that problem.

I sent both Sharifah and Anita and their babies to Kak Ana’s shelter home. Only difference is, Sharifah has gone back to her hometown to work and will only come back for Cek Mek once she is financially stable, while Anita and her baby boy is very likely to continue staying at the shelter home for some time to come.

I also had a few other new cases referred to me this year. As always, since I already have a long list of HIV clients under my care, my colleagues at the HIV clinic would only refer new cases to me if these are problematic cases. Maybe Rosnah was not in too much trouble as compared to the rest, but she was the one who kept calling me to consult on whatever problems she faced, as she didn’t feel too comfortable talking to anybody else.

The other 2 new cases I’ve been assigned to were cases of poor families. When Murni’s case was referred to me, my colleagues thought hers was a hard core poor case. Well yes she was from a poor family. But after SN herself referred Sofie’s case to me, I knew Sofie’s case was even worse. Indeed, Sofie was not only poor, she was also too weak to work, she didn’t have any source of income at all. Sofie and her family had to depend totally on others to survive. Alhamdulillah, a few of my blog readers helped her financially, and the family is doing a lot better now.

Amongst the other families, the biggest happening must have been little hole-in-heart Baby K's surgery. Ah yes, I remember how Mrs K got me confused for a while trying to figure out her SMS which mentioned that the doctors did the "ekor jantung" on the little girl. That was supposed to be ECHO jantung... :-)

Deaths? There was one recent case. Actually another colleague of mine was assigned to AJ, but since the family needed financial help for the children's schooling needs, I stepped in as it was AJ's wife, Yati, that I had to liaise with for that matter. AJ passed away on Christmas day, not long after his case was referred to us.

All in all, 2009 was quite an eventful year for me, don’t you think?

To all my blog readers, here's wishing all of you a HAPPY, BLESSED & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2010!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Shopping for schooling needs – Round 5

I promised Lin I’d fetch her and her 2 schooling children to shop for their schooling needs today. This morning while I was still at my office I called her up to ask if I should fetch her at home or at her goreng pisang stall. She told me her stall is closed for today, so I should fetch them at home.

I got to Lin’s house at 3 pm – on the dot. After I honked, I saw Lin coming out with a girl. At first I thought the girl was Marlia, Lin’s youngest daughter, but when I looked again, eh… lain pulak muka! After a while, Rahim, Lin’s son came out. When they got into my car, Lin introduced the girl as her niece who spent time at her house during the school holidays. Lin’s brother (the girl’s father) knew about my role and so it wasn’t a problem for the girl to tag along as she knew me as the lady from the charitable organisation helping Lin’s family out.

But Marlia was not around. She was still at her Opah’s kampong house. She was supposed to be back on Sunday (yesterday) but with so many cousins around, she postponed it to this coming weekend. When Lin called her last night to inform her that Makcik Afizah would bring them shopping for their schooling needs today, her reaction was, “Alaaaa…. NAK IKUT!” But I wasn’t about to postpone my plan just because she was not back, so today we went ahead without Marlia. Marlia’s father had already bought her school uniforms and work/exercise books from school, but had yet to buy her shoes, school bag and other stationeries.

So today we just went to buy uniforms, school bag and a pair of school shoes for Rahim and stationeries for both Rahim and Marlia. Although Marlia did mention what type of school bag she wanted and what size her shoes were, we figured it’s better for Lin to wait for Marlia to come back and let her choose her own bag and shoes, and then Lin would submit the receipts to me so I could reimburse her.

Well, I think I’m done with shopping for schooling needs  for this year. Next year is just a few days away anyway. There are still a few families who have yet to submit their claims to me, but at least I’m not the one who has to bring them out shopping…

Anyway, I was informed by Lin that her ex-hubby, Mr Darling has begun to slack in paying the monthly alimony of RM300 ordered by the court. He’s either paying it late, or less; giving all sorts of excuses. His present father-in-law got sick and he needed to spend extra lah (that’s not Lin’s problem is it?), he had bought Marlia’s uniforms and workbooks lah (isn’t that his responsibility? That shouldn’t be deducted from the alimony!).

So guess what? I told Lin to do a few things…

1. Since Mr Darling works with a government agency, I told Lin to arrange for the alimony to be automatically deducted from his salary. At least he cannot give any more excuses such as the above.

2. I got Lin to give me the whole list of Marlia’s schooling needs that had been paid for by Mr Darling so I could reimburse Lin with the money. At least it would cover for the alimony that he’s not paying her.

3. I told Lin to remind her children NEVER to inform their father that they are getting financial help for their schooling needs. If he finds out, chances are he’d leave his children’s financial needs totally to our care!

Another reason for Lin to arrange for the alimony to be deducted from Mr Darling’s salary is to save him the trouble of having to come over to send the money to Lin. In the first place, even without salary deduction, all he needed to do was to bank in the money into Lin’s bank account. But he’s not doing that. The salary deduction may also save Lin the trouble of having Mr Darling come over to the house, sometimes at odd hours. He recently came over at night to give October’s alimony – knowing pretty well that his 2 younger children were at their Opah’s kampong house. Luckily their 18 year old son was home, so at least Lin was not alone. But since he came at night, Lin was already in her sleep clothes (her baju kelawar).

Not wanting to let Mr Darling in, Lin just stood at the door to take the money from him. Lin didn’t realise that with the light from inside her house, and Mr Darling outside in the dark, her baju kelawar was rather see-through. And Mr Darling had the cheek to say, “Jaranglah baju. Tak tahan tengok.”

Gatal punya jantan! Dah ada bini baru pun masih tak hilang miang lagi!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Another long weekend

Ahh… another long weekend gone. The last weekend ie 18th – 20th December, I was in KL to attend my school alumni dinner. This weekend I was back in KL again. My nephew’s engagement was on Saturday in Kajang, so by Friday I was already at my brother’s house in Damansara Jaya.

When I was in KL last weekend, Yati sent me a text message informing me that her husband AJ had been transferred from the CCU to the normal ward. She did mention how worried she was, looking at her husband’s condition. Since the hospital’s visiting hours had been shortened of late, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit him at the hospital.

This week, another text message came, not from Yati but from my fellow volunteer who had been assigned as AJ’s buddy. AJ died early morning on Christmas day at the hospital. I was already at my brother’s house by the time the news reached me, so no, I didn’t visit. I decided to send my condolences to Yati via SMS and I apologized to her for not being able to visit. I will probably check on her later. Knowing Yati, I think she’ll cope. She already had plans to sell drinks to earn some income for herself and her children. And since she’s staying with her mother, at least she doesn’t have to worry about where to stay.

Since I so happened to be in KL this weekend, Mamasita, who also happened to be in KL for her son’s engagement, arranged for some sort of get-together with a few bloggers on Sunday. It was supposed to be a brunch affair, but the place she chose, a Korean restaurant, only opens at 11.30 am.

I wasn’t really sure where the restaurant was located – while I knew how to get to OU, within OU itself wasn’t familiar territory to me. So yep, me being me, I was early – the first one there. After finding out the location of the restaurant, I decided to ronda-ronda for a while before going back to the restaurant to meet up with the rest. As I was walking over to ronda-ronda, I saw a familiar looking lady. It was Dalilah aka Raden Galoh. Yayy! Got friend to chat with while waiting for the rest to come.

While I was chatting with Dalilah, a text message came in. It was from the organiser, Mamasita, informing me that she was already on the way and telling me to “tunggu jap!” For a while there I was thinking of replying her SMS to tell her that since nobody was around, I went back… :-) But in the end I decided to be a good girl…

After a while there she was… the ever smiling Mamasita… only this time I managed to catch her off guard, so this pic comes without her “iklan ubat gigi” smile… hehehe…

A few minutes later, Dr Rohaya, or better known as Raw, got there. Raw is Mamasita’s sis-in-law and also my junior in school, in fact we were both in the same school debating team many many moons ago.

And then the lady bloggers (plus a few husbands/sons who decided to sit at another table nearby) started trickling in. It was my first time meeting Desert Rose and Edelweiss.

droseandedelweiss



Then came Kak Teh from London and Shahieda from Capetown. Waah… international bloggers meet lah this!

5ladies

Tireless Mom dropped by for a while with her kids (tireless kids?) but they didn’t join us for lunch as they were going off to attend a kenduri somewhere. Kak Puteri Kama came later after I was getting bloody fool… oops, I meant bloody full…

kakputeri

Dengan penuh semangat Kak Puteri bercerita, apa jugalah dikelentongnya Dalilah tu!

Blogger Zendra came by when I was almost leaving. By 1.30 pm, I decided to make a move as I was planning to drive back to Ipoh after zohor. It wasn’t an easy task… the peluk-cium goodbyes took some time, and to add to that, masa tu lah masing-masing nak bergambar… including our Choc-a-blog kakak here from London…

pi&kakteh

And finally, what good were the guys there for if not to take group photos of the ladies huh?

group

It was nice to have met you wonderful ladies. Glad to know that this orang Perak was not the only peghak one around who was trying to figure out how to eat the Korean food... hahaha!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Another newborn…

No, this is not another of those out-of-wedlock pregnancies. No headache for me this time.

Remember Asiah? She got HIV from her first husband, then remarried and the present husband had been tested negative. While I was just getting over the hoo hahs of handling Sharifah’s case earlier this year, I found out from Asiah that she got pregnant despite supposedly practicing safe sex with her husband. I’m not sure if they used the condom correctly though… many people tend to think they know how to properly use the condom but in actual fact, they don’t.

Anyway, Asiah’s husband at first wanted her to go for abortion. He thought if the mother is HIV positive, then the baby is sure to be infected as well. Asiah however was reluctant and consulted me about it. I told her about the other cases where almost all the babies have been spared from the virus. The important thing is to take all the necessary precautions. I told her to quickly inform SN so they could give the necessary ARV to protect the baby.

The husband was finally convinced to let Asiah keep the baby. And so they have been commuting from their place to Ipoh GH quite often – to O&G clinic and to ID clinic.

Finally on Tuesday I received a text message from Asiah. She had delivered a baby boy and was at the maternity ward. I told her I’d try to visit her the next day (which was yesterday) if I had the time. I didn’t bother to find out from her which room she was in. They always send the HIV cases to the end room and I’ve been there a few times to visit my other clients as I always get the pregnant cases passed to me.

So after my asar prayer off I went to the hospital. A kampong-folk of mine works at the maternity ward and more often than not, whenever I visit someone at the ward, she always seem to be on duty. It has been a few months since my last visit to the maternity ward, so when she saw me, she asked, “Tengok siapa?” I just said, “Bilik hujung” and she immediately nodded without asking further. By now she’d notice that I always visit the HIV cases so although she never asked, I think she should already be able to tell.

When I got to the room, both Asiah and her husband were there. The moment the husband saw me, he gave his chair to me and told me he was going to visit his baby boy who was at the pediatric ward. By now I am used to the fact that he always makes his disappearing act whenever I appear. Not sombong, just segan I guess…

Asiah told me that her husband had not gone home since Monday when Asiah had to be warded. Their home is more than an hour drive away and the husband could not afford to commute every day. He didn’t have the heart to leave Asiah alone either. Initially he thought he’d sleep at the nearby mosque, but the mosque is locked every night after ‘Isya prayers. So for the past few nights Asiah’s husband had been sleeping in the car. Poor thing.

Such a responsible husband, don’t you think? Well yes, if you see it from Asiah’s point of view, maybe. I wonder what his first wife has to say…

Oh, have I ever mentioned that Asiah is his second wife?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Shopping for schooling needs – Round 4

Yesterday was the turn of Fuzi’s children to go shopping for their schooling needs. Last year Fuzi bought the necessities first and then claimed from me. However this year, Fuzi had used her money to buy bicycles for her 2 older daughters and so she ran out of cash. It had been quite some time since I last brought her kids out anyway, and so I promised to fetch them yesterday afternoon to buy the necessities.

As always, by the time I got to their house, all of them were waiting outside, all set to go. So we immediately headed to Ipoh, as there wasn’t much choice at the little town that they’re staying in.

However, it being almost the end of the year, we had quite a tough time looking for the right sizes, especially for Fuzi’s 2 boys. Most of the sizes available were either too big or too small for them. It didn’t help that the 2 boys, aged 7 and 10, were more interested in playing with the shopping cart they were pushing. When we finally got the right sizes, we quickly grabbed 2 of each before anybody else took it.

There weren’t really much problem with the other things (except for the price…). But all their old uniforms, bags etc were already in bad shape (Fuzi opted for cheaper stuff when she had to buy them first last year) and so almost every single thing had to be bought. And with the eldest daughter being a prefect, she needed extra stuff, like black shoes. But the girls were rather disciplined. Anything they wanted to take, they’d seek my approval first.

With all the things needed for the 4 schooling kids, by the time we got to the cashier, the cart was full of stuff. The bill came up to over RM600. And the receipt I got came up to about 1 1/2 ft in length! The only one who didn’t get anything was Iwan, Fuzi’s youngest boy who was happy enough to be following us shopping.

Anyway, after paying for all the stuff, I took them to the food court. At least the little boy got something to drink and eat at the food court, rather than not getting anything at all.

I then sent them home, thinking that would be the last of my school shopping spree for this year. My claims now, inclusive of both Sponsorship Fund and Children Education Fund, is already over RM4K. I’d better submit my claims before the end of the year so that the amount will be reflected in this year’s financial report. I hope the other Buddies assigned to other poor families will also submit their claims soon, although I know for a fact, their claims won’t be as much as mine. Most of the poor families are my cases.

When I got home, I SMSed Lin to ask if she had bought her children’s schooling needs so I could reimburse her from the Sponsorship Fund, but I was told that she hadn’t bought anything, hoping her ex-hubby would help buy their schooling needs. They are after all, his children too. He never did. He just gave a small amount just enough to cover for their youngest girl’s workbooks.

With her goreng pisang business not doing too well ever since a new supermarket opened at their town (many customers prefer to go to the food stalls nearer to the supermarket), Lin doesn’t really have much money in hand.

Oh well, I guess no harm going for one more round of shopping. Lin was thinking of bringing her kids shopping next Monday with whatever little cash that she has, probably thinking of just buying one pair each first. So I told her I’d fetch her on Monday afternoon and we’d go shopping together.

That means… yes, I’ve got another round of shopping to go!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Over the weekend


No, no shopping for schooling needs over the weekend.

Right after my weekly pasar tani routine (a different kind of shopping), off I drove to KL to attend my alumni’s dinner. Now that I have a GPS, I no longer have to do my homework before heading to KL. Otherwise, usually I’d have to “study” the KL & Klang Valley Street Directory before going anywhere near the KL city centre!

So yes, I attended the TKC OGA dinner at Shangri La, KL.

dinner1

Oh, just the usual things… all the pot pet pot pet when old friends meet… arrival of the royalties… speech by the Yang DiPertua… speech by the organising chair… makan-makan (of course lah, it was dinner anyway!)… and the entertainments…

combo rtm


hargreaves 1


maizura

billie jean


noryn


I sat together with my batchmates somewhere at the back. When we wanted to take a group photo at our table, one of my friends called one lady who was standing at the back, thinking this lady was one of the hotel staff. The lady obliged and was cool about it so my friends all thought she was actually a hotel staff. I had been observing the lady earlier and had suspected that she was a bodyguard of one of the royalties.

Well, indeed she was. So yep, we got a mata gelap snapping pics for us! Hehehe…

dinner5

Anyway, on Saturday night I was at Shangri La, then next day, on Sunday, I headed to Marriot KL to meet up with some friends. A group of friends, most of whom I had never met before. Out of these friends, I had only met two of them prior to this meet. These are fellow bloggers. Can you recognise them?

bloggers

Friday, 18 December 2009

Visiting the house that was…

As mentioned in my previous posting, yesterday, together with a fellow volunteer and Mr R, a representative from a particular organisation, we went to visit Hana’s old house to assess if Mr R’s organisation would be willing to help out with the house repairs.

Initially, we planned to meet up at 3 pm, but yesterday morning itself, Mr R got a call requesting him to attend another function. We couldn’t simply cancel or postpone the visit, because Hana had arranged to take leave from work to be able to be home during our visit. So, it was decided that we meet up at 4 pm instead. But you know how it is to get away when you’re attending whatever functions… so we only finally made a move from Ipoh around 4.45 pm.

Just as we were leaving Ipoh, it rained… cats & dogs!! I was really hoping it would be dry at Hana’s place as it would be difficult to climb up to her old house in the rain. For one thing, it would be slippery and we wouldn’t want to injure ourselves in trying to help others…

As we exited the highway, I said, “Thank God it’s dry here.” Immediately it started to drizzle. Uh oh… I spoke too soon, didn’t I?

But no, it wasn’t raining when we reached Hana’s house but it looked like it would rain anytime. We headed straight to the house that Hana is renting, parked the car there, and up I went to call Hana so we could together go to the old house needing repairs.  The old house was less than 50 meters away anyway. While at first I confidently climbed up to get to the old house, halfway through I got a bit confused and I let Hana show the way. I could no longer recognise the house.

Ni ha rumahnya,” said Hana. “Bahagian depannya pakcik saya dah tolong robohkan sebab dah jadi sarang penagih dadah.”

No wonder lah I couldn’t recognise the house!

The front section of the house was the one unfit for occupation. That was where Hana fell and broke her arm. Unable to afford repairs, they decided to rent a nearby house for safety reasons. So the old house was left empty. Apparently drug addicts seem to get along very well with empty houses, so the house finally became a “port” for the addicts. That was when Hana’s uncle decided to tear down the whole section.

The only section that’s left now is the kitchen section which is locked and so others can’t go in. Both Mr R and myself took some photos of the house. After a while it started raining and so we walked down and headed back to Hana’s rented house. Hana gave me the receipts of her purchases of the children’s schooling needs, plus the list of items which need to be bought at their school co-op at the end of this month. I was in a rush so I couldn’t really sit down to calculate everything. So based on what Hana told me, that the whole total was “Empat Ratus lebih”, I gave Hana RM400 and told her I’d transfer the balance into her bank account once I manage to calculate everything. She needed cash to buy a second pair of uniforms for her children (she was short of cash, so she had bought one pair each first). Next year even her youngest son will start schooling, so she has 3 of them with schooling needs.

By the time we left, it was raining… cats and dogs… again! Seemed like the rain was following us.

Anyway, Mr R told me to get a copy of the title of the land, and asked me to do a short write up, detailing Hana’s family background and needs. Hopefully I will be able to do that soon.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Shopping for schooling needs – Round 3

Done with Sofie’s and Yati’s family, today I brought Zainab and her daughters to shop for their schooling needs. Since it was Zainab’s off day at work, I promised to fetch Zainab and her girls at 2.30 pm today.

The moment they knew I was going to bring them shopping, the 2 girls got excited. I promised them 2.30 pm, and I got there on time (in fact I think I was a few minutes early) but apparently the girls were ready by 2 pm and by 2.15, kakak was already asking, “Mana makcik tak sampai-sampai lagi ni?!” When I got to their house, the 2 girls were already waiting outside the house, all set to go.

Oh well, I guess I can understand their excitement. Usually they’d only go to kedai runcit or at the most, minimarkets. Although I didn’t tell them where I was taking them, the thought of going “shopping” was enough to excite them. Imagine the looks on their faces when they saw the hypermarket I took them to – priceless!

Zainab’s kids were just about the same age as Yati’s but much easier to control. I guess because they were both girls? They didn’t go around touching this and that saying nak ini or nak itu. I never had to step in to say NO to unnecessary requests. In fact, for school bags for example, I chose the bags and let them choose the colour they wanted. They never complained.

Anyway, the girls were so excited knowing I was coming to take them shopping, they refused to have lunch at home earlier. Probably they figured I’d take them makan-makan somewhere too. Well yes, I did bring them to a fast food outlet at the shopping complex. After all, they were such good girls during shopping time, I guess they deserved some sort of reward.

Done with 3 families, a few other families to cover – most of the rest would probably buy first and we’d reimburse them later. This morning Murni was at the hospital for her daughter’s appointment and she passed to my colleague some receipts of purchases she made for her children’s schooling needs. Once I get the receipts, I will reimburse her from our Children Education Fund (CEF).

Hana too had bought one pair of uniforms each for her children (they are entitled to 2 pairs each but Hana didn’t have enough cash to buy 2 pairs) and so I will reimburse her with whatever she had spent, after which she will buy another pair each for her children.

I’d better call and check on Lin and Mrs K to find out if they’re done with their children’s schooling needs.

Asiah would usually buy first and claim later, but she’s due to deliver her baby soon, and so I’m not sure if she has settled her children’s school needs yet.

Yah? Well, the 2 older daughters are at an orphanage, and as for the 3rd child, I recall Yah did mention about wanting to send him to an orphanage too, so she’s no longer entitled to be reimbursed for any school necessities. But I’d better still check on her, if she hasn’t changed her phone number again lah

Fuzi called while I was out with Zainab and the children today. Last year she bought her children’s schooling needs first before we reimbursed her, but this year she’s running out of cash after having to spend on some other things. So I told her I’d probably bring her family out next week to settle their schooling needs.

As for our other PLHIV clients not assigned to me, I shall leave it to their respective Buddies to check their needs, and submit whatever claims, if any. We do have enough funds in our CEF this time, part of which were allocated from the grant we received earlier from Yayasan Sultan Azlan Shah. And today we received another cheque of substantial amount meant for CEF. So we didn’t really have to resort to our in-house “professional beggars” for the funds this time. The latest cheque especially, came rather unexpectedly. Alhamdulillah.

Besides, some of these children are covered by our Education Sponsorship programme. Which reminds me, I’d better start doing up the reports to be sent to the individual sponsors under this programme so I can ask them for next year’s sponsorship amount.

Tomorrow, to bring the representative of a particular organisation to Hana’s old house to assess if they are willing to help with the house repairs.

This weekend, I shall be heading to KL to attend my alumni dinner and hopefully to meet up with a few other friends the next day.

So, no more shopping for this week. To be continued next week.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Shopping for schooling needs – Round 2

Monday came and as I had mentioned in my previous posting, I’d be bringing Yati’s children to shop for their schooling needs. Since Yati doesn’t want me to visit them at home to avoid “interrogations” by Yati’s mother, I told Yati to meet me at the main entrance of the hypermarket where I had intended to take them shopping. AJ was still in the hospital, and so it was just Yati and the kids.

The moment Yati saw me she asked, “Tak ada orang lain ke kak?” She probably thought we’d be having a whole group of children at one time to shop for their schooling needs.

“Takde. Saya bawa satu keluarga je satu masa. Tak nak pening-pening kepala bawa ramai-ramai sekali,” I said.

Well, it was proven later that I had made the right move. Yati’s 2 children, aged 6 and 8, were so… errmmm… shall I say over active??

“Ibu, nak ni!”

“Ibu, nak tu!”

“Ibu, tengok adik!”

“Ibu, kakak dapat, adik pun nak!”

Their mother couldn’t really say much. The kids don’t listen to her. Apparently they do listen to their father but he wasn’t around. Sometimes the kids would insist they wanted something no matter what their mother said. I had to step in and give them a firm, “TAK BOLEH!”

The worse, again, just like it was with Ika earlier, was at the school bags and the stationeries section. You know how it is with kids… they’d go for the ones with famous cartoon or comic characters. And you know this kind of bags or stationeries can cost a bomb, more so due to the branding. It wasn’t too bad at the stationeries section but for the school bags, I set a limit to the price. We were there to help them with their schooling needs, not to pamper them. So, they only qualify for the simple school bags – but realizing how heavy these bags can be when they put in all the school books, I agreed to let them buy the trolley bags.

Anyway, after making sure we got all that was necessary, the kids were still running around here and there. Before they started grabbing and insisting they wanted this and that again, I asked them, “Nak gi minum tak?”

“Nak! Nak!” they said excitedly.

“Nak, jom gi bayar dulu.”

It worked. They stopped running around and followed us to the cashier.

“Maaflah kak, anak-anak saya ni tak reti dok diam.” said Yati while we were heading down to the food corner.

“Tu pasal saya cuma bawa satu keluarga satu masa. Tak ke haru kalau saya bawa ramai-ramai sekali?” I responded.

“Ya tak ya juga ek? Anak saya baru 2 orang dah macam 20 orang!” she said.

Hah, tau takper!

While we having the drinks, Yati told me how her mother wanted to come along to follow her shopping. Yati had told her earlier that she’d bring her children to buy their schooling needs. Konon-konon she had just got her duit kutu and she’d be using that money. In actual fact, she did get her duit kutu but had finished them paying off her debts.

Yati gave all sorts of excuses to her mother so that her mother wouldn’t come along. She didn’t want her mother to ask me all sorts of things. She was afraid her mother may finally suspect what AJ’s illness really was.

I advised Yati that if in any event her mother asks her who I was, just tell her mother that I’m from a “Pertubuhan Kebajikan”. The mother is fully aware that AJ is unwell and unable to work for the time being and so the family does need financial assistance. That’s where I come in.

“Ya jugak, kak. Budak-budak ni bukan boleh simpan rahsia. Nanti karang balik, depa gi cerita kata Makcik yang bayar. Mesti mak saya tanya.”

I’m not too sure how long Yati and AJ would be able to keep the secret (about AJ’s HIV) from the rest of the family though…

Friday, 11 December 2009

Shopping for schooling needs – Round 1

I had promised Sofie I’d be coming around 3 pm to bring her kids shop for their schooling needs. I actually reached their house at 3 pm sharp, only to see that there were 3 other people around and they were about to have lunch. Lunch? At 3 pm? Waaa… so late! Ika and Azman came out to help carry down some groceries from my car. Even Saiful came out, in his kain pelekat (he was just circumcised last week).

The other 3 people whom I had not met before were Sofie’s sister, brother-in-law and niece who came all the way from up north to visit Sofie.

Today’s visit exposed me to another thing about their family. Remember the older sister who Sofie had been staying with before this? Well, apparently Sofie wasn’t the only one who couldn’t really get along with that sister. This other sister couldn’t either due to the older sister’s mulut laser.

Although Sofie’s nephew (the older sister’s son) was the one that prompted Sofie to move out of the sister’s house; the sister actually preferred Sofie to stay with her so that she and her family could ‘tumpang sekaki’ whatever assistance Sofie got. She particularly knew about the assistance we Buddies had been giving Sofie. After Sofie moved out of the house, the sister started telling her other siblings that Sofie never gave her a single sen (in actual fact, whenever Sofie got any assistance from us, she’d share with her sister’s family). Now, even worse still, the sister had been telling the kampong folks that Sofie has HIV. As a result, Sofie stays inside her house most of the time, not wanting to show her face outside.

Sofie is now looking for another house – if possible she wants to move to another house in another taman – away from the present kampong where she stays.

As we were chatting, the older sister came (her house is within the same kampong). When she saw me, she started talking about her children not having any new clothes etc. I played dumb – an expertise I’ve been born with. :-)

Anyway, back to the purpose of my visit today - after about half an hour or so, they were finally ready to go out shopping. I was pleased to note that Sofie herself wanted to join us. Before this, due to her health, whenever I wanted to bring her children out anywhere, she never followed as she was too weak. Imagine the satisfaction I got upon seeing the improvement in the life of the lady whom I had been giving support to. Who says voluntary work doesn’t pay?

We were very lucky today… not only did we manage to get a car park under the shade, it was also right in front of the supermarket’s entrance! And the schooling needs too were placed right after the entrance. So, we didn’t have to worry about Sofie, or even Saiful (for today we called him the budak dalam pantang), having to walk too far.

Getting the uniforms and shoes weren’t too bad. But when it came to the school bags and stationeries section, Ika, the youngest girl, went rambang mata! Her 2 older siblings seemed very responsible though… they told their younger siblings that certain stationeries like pencils, erasers, pens, etc would be cheaper if bought in one pack and shared amongst the 4 of them. If it was up to Ika, she’d want one of everything to herself!

The total amount spent for the 4 of them today? RM587-85. Definitely an amount Sofie wouldn’t be able to afford to if it was up to her. Oh, her older sister’s gonna be so jealous if she hears about this…

I had initially wanted to bring them for minum-minum after shopping, but due to Ika’s ‘rambang mata’ness, we finished rather late. So I just sent them home. As we brought the things down from my car, Sofie’s sister (the one visiting from up north) and her husband, who were still around, said, “Terima kasihlah kak, tolong tengok-tengokkan dia orang ni. Harapkan kami, kami pun cukup makan je.”

Well, that’s one round of shopping done. Next round will be on Monday – for Yati’s children…

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Meetings & shopping

I hate meetings. But we need to have meetings especially to get things organised and to ensure that plans are carried out.

Well, Buddies was invited to send a representative to a meeting called by Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri Perak to discuss the state level of the National Strategic Plans for HIV/AIDS – for Perak Departments & Agencies. It was important to know the latest updates on the issue, and since I was free this afternoon, I went.

It was quite a pleasant surprise to notice that quite a big number of government agencies were represented this time around. The last time I attended a similar meeting sometime mid-year, many agencies did not send any reps.

Good for me, the more agencies represented, the more networking I get. As a matter of fact, since the Welfare Department was also represented this time, and questions were raised as to whether they’d be setting up any shelter homes for HIV infected women and children in Perak, I took the opportunity to meet up with the lady personally after the meeting. I asked if there was a policy for existing shelter homes under the welfare department (like the ones for problematic teenagers) to reject HIV cases.

She told me there was no such policy and that the homes should still accept such cases as long as the criteria is met ie pregnant or problematic teenagers. So I told her about Sharifah’s case earlier this year. I told her that while initially the lady whom my colleague spoke to had no objections to accepting Sharifah, the moment my colleague told her Sharifah has HIV, the lady immediately said no. The officer I met told me by right Sharifah should have been accepted. Well then, she’d better disseminate the info to all their staff. Otherwise, we’d be getting different answers from different officers all the time.

And oh, an officer who sat beside me, a lady doctor representing one of the PKDs, when given my card, first kept quiet. But after a while, she asked about the pronunciation of my NGO. She was quiet at first thinking the society was a Buddhist association. I highlighted to her about the difference in the spelling between Buddies and Buddhist. Sigh… don’t people know of the word buddy, which would be buddies when it becomes plural? Thank goodness, the officer who presented the papers for today pronounced our name correctly. In fact he expressed his appreciation for our assistance in providing support to PLHIVs especially at the ID clinic.

Ah well, no meetings tomorrow, but I will instead be going shopping.

Oh, I used to hate shopping too – and I still hate shopping on weekends. But for the children of the poor families under my care, I will still go shopping but I will make myself hate it less by going on a weekday instead of a weekend.

Tomorrow it will be Sofie’s children. Then on Monday I will take Yati’s children.

Join me shopping, anyone?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Getting on with life…

Remember my recent update about Yati complaining to me that her husband AJ seemed to be getting weaker but simply refused to go to the clinic or hospital? Yati herself had almost given up on him as she didn’t how what else to do with him.

“Pujuk sudah, marah pun sudah kak. Tak jalan!”

I told Yati she had to continue coaxing him to get treatment. Otherwise nobody could help him. I even told Yati to threaten him that I’d be visiting them at home if he still refused to get treatment. I knew neither Yati nor AJ wanted me to visit at home to avoid suspicions from Yati’s family who were still unaware about AJ’s HIV.

I guess the threat worked. The very next day Yati sent me a text message saying she was at the hospital. I called her to find out more info.

“Di mana ni?”

“Kat hospital lah.”

“Masuk wad ke?”

“Tak tau lagi kak, masih kat tempat emergency lagi ni. Doktor dah jumpa tadi, depa kata hati dia bengkak. Tapi lepas tu dok melangut je lah. Saya pun tak tau depa nak suruh balik ke apa ke.”

Oh well, it was the emergency unit… unless you look like you’re dying, you’ve got to wait!

After a while I got another text message. They were already in the ward – AJ had to be warded and he was put on drip. Yati was worried. The next day was the Saturday that her brother was getting married and the whole family including herself was going to KL. I told her I’d try to visit if I had the time but whatever it is, I’d inform AJ’s buddy about it and get him to visit at least.

Saturday came and I was down with a flu. I didn’t dare visit for fear of spreading the flu to others, especially at the hospital ward. Besides, I wanted to have a good rest as the next day was our awareness campaign at the OA village. But my colleague who’s been assigned as AJ’s buddy did visit.

Yesterday I got another text message from Yati – inviting me to her house as her family was planning to have bacaan Yaasin after Maghrib. Hmmm… so now they don’t mind me visiting at home? No more worries about her family becoming suspicious? Or does her family already know?

Anyway, remember AJ was supposed to have his blood test done at a private hospital to get his CD4 count? And they couldn’t afford it and so we approved the amount from our Client’s Welfare Fund? Due to the long list referred to the private hospital by the GH for the CD4 tests, an appointment had to be set. The appointment was for this afternoon but AJ was at the ward in Ipoh GH. Yati called me to find out what to do.

Somehow these clients prefer to call me to ask these things when it would have been easier to ask the nurses at the ward. Or are they just afraid to open up their mouths to ask?

I told Yati to explain the matter to either the nurses or the doctors. Or call the lady in charge at the private hospital to explain the situation. Yati did finally call the lady at the private hospital and was told to get the nurses at the ward to arrange for AJ’s blood to be taken, then reps from the private hospital will come over to get the blood and payment for the blood test.

Later today when I called Yati, she sounded a bit happier. She said AJ seemed better and could at least sit by himself and could walk to the toilet if aided. Earlier he was so weak he looked so helpless.

Hopefully that is proof enough to him that he could get better with proper treatment and that life is not over just because he has been infected with HIV. He just needs to have more faith.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Awareness Campaign at Orang Asli Village


As I had mentioned in a few of my earlier postings, this year for the first time, Buddies would be organising an event on our own in conjunction with the World AIDS Day. And our plan was to have an awareness campaign at an Orang Asli village in Perak.

Sunday, 6th December 2009 – D Day of the programme.

There were supposed to be 6 of us making a move from our centre in Ipoh, including one who already knew where the OA village was and would be showing the way. But he was feeling unwell, and although at first he figured he’d still go to show us the way, we told him to get a rest – we had already been given the directions to get to the place, and so we’d find our way there. Besides, Su Win, the lady who helped to disseminate the info to the kampong folks, could be contacted by hand phone and I had saved her number in my phone.

So 5 of us made a move from Ipoh in 2 cars. Madam Chair took in the passengers (all ladies) while vice-chairman, who could only take in one passenger because he had the projector screen in his car, drove alone. 3 other volunteers, who stay in other towns, were to meet up with us at the junction heading to the village. (Hey! How come the chair and vice-chair always ended up as the drivers? During our retreat to Cameron Highlands in June this year, we went in 2 cars and the same 2 became the drivers as well. I wonder if it’s part and parcel of becoming the chair & vice-chair!)

The village we were heading to? Kg Sg Genting, near Chenderiang.


OAV1 OAV2

OAV3


We took the PLUS highway, exited via Gopeng then headed towards Kampar. The junction would be before we reached Kampar, ie the junction heading to Sg Siput Selatan.

It was only when we were already on the way that I remembered to ask if anyone had taken along condoms for our condom demo. I was too busy putting in all the mechanical gadgets (projector, loud speaker & notebook) in my car, I totally forgot about the condom! Aiseh! No 7-11 on the way and definitely no shops selling condoms at the OA village.

When we got to the junction where we were supposed to meet up with the other 3 volunteers, I called up one of the volunteers and was told that he’d take another 10 to 15 minutes to get there. So our vice-chair waited at the junction while we ladies went to look for condoms! The small shops didn’t look like they’d sell condoms (we saw kedai motor and kedai perabot and a mamak restaurant – we’d look real desperate if we had actually stopped and asked if they sold condoms!!) and so we decided to head to Tesco Kampar which was just about 10 minutes away. Imagine one of our ladies going there and queuing up just to pay for a pack of 3 condoms when the other shoppers were queuing with trolleys filled with loads of stuff!

Anyway, by the time we got back to the junction, the other volunteers were already there and so we continued our journey to Kg Sg Genting with me leading the way. The instruction I remembered most was that we’d be passing under the highway bridge once and the kampong would be right before reaching the next highway bridge. As such I drove until we saw the second highway bridge, stopped by the roadside and called Su Win. We weren’t that far off, just turn back and find the first junction on the right, which was just nearby.

And so we finally reached Kg Sg Genting…

OA1


OA2

The building where the talk was held.

There were power sockets at the above building, but the electricity meter was not. Sudah kena potong I guess. But Su Win had kindly arranged for a long extension wire to get electricity supply from the nearby house. Only problem was, there was only one socket available. Thank goodness my notebook had been fully charged, and so should be able to last about 3 hours on batteries. Likewise, the loudspeaker too had been fully charged and should be able to last for 2 hours usage. And so, we had to give priority to the projector to get the electricity supply as the projector wasn’t rechargeable.

OA

Posing while waiting for more OAs to come.


OA4

Explaining to the OAs about HIV and AIDS.


OA5

At least they seemed attentive enough…

OA6

Not to me but to the screen…


OA7

Even these kids were paying attention.

OAchildren2


OAcondom1

OK, listen up people! This lady here is gonna show you how to use the condom properly… with a real life… ermmm… BANANA!

OAcondom3

Oh OK, so maybe the banana she bought was a wee bit too big…

OAcondom4

See the smiles during the condom demo?


OA9

No questions asked during the talk itself but this group of ladies did ask me privately after the talk, during makan time. At least they were interested enough to know more.


OA8

Makan time!


OAgrouppic

Volunteers & Su Win in a group photo after the talk.


OA10

Packing up our gadgets after the talk.



OA11 OA12

With one of the OA families after the talk. This house was where we got our electricity supply from.


This was not only our first time organising our own World AIDS Day event, it was also our first time giving talks to OAs. We were not expecting any changes overnight. To us it was good enough that a group of OAs were willing enough to come and listen to the talk.

Hopefully that was just a start to more awareness amongst the Orang Aslis.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Updates

I was the lone volunteer on duty during HIV clinic last Wednesday. The 2 trainee volunteers in my team had work-related matters to attend to.

But it was no big deal, really. SN too was not around since she had to attend a course elsewhere and so I had to postpone whatever matters I needed to discuss with her.

Only the junior nurse was around to refer any cases to us but according to her, although there were supposed to be 4 new cases that day, only one turned up. So yes, I only met one new patient.

As I was getting bored waiting, in case the other 3 patients may turn up, I decided to text Asiah. It had been quite some time since my last contact with her – she had then just been confirmed pregnant and if I recalled correctly, she should be due to deliver anytime soon.

Coincidentally Asiah was at the hospital for her blood test when I sent her the text message. I took the opportunity to go down to meet her since there weren’t any more cases referred to me. Asiah and her husband were at the canteen having a drink. Usually her husband would shy away from me but since he was having a drink, he couldn’t simply get up and sit elsewhere. I finally got a clearer picture of how he looked like!

Anyway, Asiah’s full term of pregnancy is in early January. Although she has not got the confirmation from the doctor, chances are her c-sect will be scheduled 2 weeks earlier. That’ll be soon enough. She promised she’d inform me once she knows when she needs to be warded at Ipoh GH. It’ll be easier for me to visit her then.

--------------------------------------------------------

I called up Sofie yesterday to find out how her family was doing. Sofie had brought Saiful to the Ipoh GH to set an appointment with the eye specialist. His appointment is set in February 2010. Hmmm… must be a long list of patients waiting to see the specialist.

I had initially planned to bring Sofie’s children to shop for their schooling needs early next week, but according to Sofie, Saiful is scheduled to be circumcised today. So I think I’ll give him a bit more time. I’ll wait until later next week to bring them shopping.

Maybe before that I can bring Yati’s children to shop for their schooling needs first. Yati texted me last night, telling me that her husband AJ seemed to be getting weaker but simply refused to go to the clinic or hospital. He seemed to think there is no hope for him anymore and as such no point getting treatment. Yati is beginning to lose her patience with him.

I told Yati that AJ may need a bit more time to get out of it and that she should keep on coaxing him to go for treatment. I even told her to threaten him that I’d be visiting them at home if he refuses to go to the clinic/hospital (her family that they’re staying with are not aware of his HIV and so they don’t want us Buddies to visit them at home in case her family becomes suspicious). No, we don’t visit them at home without their permission… I just wanted Yati to threaten him a bit…

--------------------------------------------------------

For the first time ever, Buddies will be organizing our own World AIDS Day programme instead of joining the programmes of other NGOs. About 7 or 8 of us will be going to an Orang Asli village for an HIV awareness programme. I’ve finally got my powerpoint presentation ready. I had to redo the slides as the ones I had previously were either in English or the one or two I had in Malay were a bit more technical. We have been advised to keep the presentation in simple Malay and without too much statistics which may just confuse them further. The important thing is to inform them on the basics of HIV.

So yeah, my next blog posting will probably be about the visit to the Orang Asli village.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Buddies 1 Malaysia Night

1st December 2009 - World AIDS Day.

Our programme for this year's World AIDS Day is scheduled to be on Sunday 6th December. But we usually have our own internal activities on Tuesday nights, be it meetings or fellowship gatherings, and last night we had our fellowship night to coincide with World AIDS Day. We call it the Buddies 1 Malaysia Night - to celebrate all the major festivities in Malaysia - Raya (both), Deepavali, Christmas, New Year etc. Our decor, although simple, covers all the festivities... there's even a small Christmas tree at the corner!
The guitar was not only for decor, but used later for live entertainment.

It was just a simple affair held at our centre, and just to make it slightly more interesting, we fixed a theme. The last fellowship night we had 2 years ago, it was Sarong Night. This time we opted for Fancy Headgear. So how did I end up? Well, let's just say I used the same thing I used the last time ie the sarong, and used it as a headgear instead! Oh, I took the liberty to find a sarong which matches my baju and tudung!
Me in striking colour so as not to be mistaken as a Taliban!

I brought along the small scarf we got as souvenir during the opening of ICAAP in Bali in August, in case somebody decided to come without wearing any headgear. We wanted to make it a point that we meant what we said that everyone MUST come in a headgear. Well, not one, but three of the volunteers came without any headgears! My spare Bali scarf went to the first guy who came without any headgear, so he tied the scarf around his head. As for the other two ladies who came without headgears, well, we used the leftovers of our decors and decorated their heads instead!!

14 volunteers turned up out of the 20 over volunteers that we have. And oh, our patron turned up too, bringing along some food as well (including some nice big prawns) to add to whatever we already had on our menu - putumayam, mutton curry, satay, mee goreng, and some desserts including the yummy mango cake.

Our OC cum Santa Klost (he's always "lost", thus the change of spelling) cum guitarist cum singer for the night.

The yummylicious mango cake.

Buddies in their headgears!

OK, you've seen the pics... guess who won the prize for best headgear? No prizes for the correct answer though...