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)

Friday, 29 April 2011

The gathering… and a bit on Mr Darling

We have organised quite a number of events involving our PLHIV clients – Raya gathering a few years back… male PLHIV gathering at our center one or to years ago… Annual Family Day… but all involving just Buddies and our clients. The only time that any of our clients attended events with other PLHIV would probably be just events in KL organised by the Malaysian AIDS Council, like the International Aids Memorial Day.

So when the doctor and nurses at the Ipoh ID clinic approached me to help organise a gathering for Perak PLHIV, I obliged. A medical rep had earlier approached them, wanting to sponsor the meet. But since they (the Ipoh ID clinic) needed help to organise the thing, especially in getting the PLHIV to come, they sought my help. So I got my volunteers to call their clients, inviting them to the gathering. But it being a Friday, many could not make it. Initially we managed to get 13 clients to agree to come (not including our 3 HIV+ volunteers), but in the end only 9 turned up, plus 5 Buddies.

But I also invited Pertubuhan Komuniti Intan (PKI) to send representatives, so they made up the numbers and in the end there were about 24 or 25 attendees.

I had promised Sofie and Fuzi I’d fetch them at home to come for the gathering. So immediately after zohor, off I went, first to Sofie’s house, then I brought Sofie along with me to fetch Fuzi and her youngest son, Iwan. Fuzi’s and Sofie’s children actually go to the same school, in fact Fuzi’s son Hafiz and Sofie’s son Saiful, had been classmates ever since Sofie moved from her old house further up north.

The gathering was supposed to start at 3 pm, and under normal circumstances, being the organiser, I’d usually be there before time. But since I had to go fetch Fuzi and Sofie, I only managed to reach the venue at 3 pm sharp. But there wasn’t really much to prepare on my part anyway, the nurses from the ID clinic had already done all the necessary preparation.

There were already a few people there, mostly from the Teluk Intan group. As always, those who stay further would reach the venue first… because those who stay in the same town always think it’s still too early to make a move… :)

Other than Fuzi and Sofie, my clients who came were Lin (who was a bit late, and she came with her daughter, who is now looking around for a job), Wani and Mr & Mrs K, who actually took leave to come for the gathering. Mr & Mrs K had initially wanted to bring their 4 year old daughter along (the one who underwent a heart surgery in 2009), but it was raining since morning and the couple came on their motorbike, so they decided not to bring the girl with them.

The gathering started off with a brief introduction by the doctor, on why we organised the gathering etc. Then I asked them to sit beside a person whom they didn’t know, gave them 5 minutes to get to know each other, then I got them to introduce their “new friend” during the get-to-know session. I just wanted to make sure they didn’t just stick to their own group of friends.

The gathering was actually just an informal session, for the PLHIV to get to know and to open up to each other. In the end, the PLHIV did ask quite a number of questions… to the doctor… the nurses… and the pharmacist who were also there.

Then it was makan time, and by this time they had all already mixed around, so they did have their own chat while enjoying their food. Food? We had mee goreng, kuetiau goreng, pulut udang, agar-agar, fruits and teh tarik. They couldn’t finish all the food, and although there was no problem getting them to tapau the pulut udang and agar-agar, nobody seemed to want to take home the mee and kuetiau goreng since they didn’t have any containers with them. Plus, some were simply too shy.

Then, remembering that in the goody bags prepared for each of them, there was a tumbler in each bag, big enough, I suggested to them to fill the kuetiau and mee into the tumbler so they could easily bring them back. At first they just giggled, and didn’t want to do it. The tumbler as meant for drinks, not food. But I just grabbed a tumbler from Lin’s goody bag and started filling it with kuetiau goreng. Lin and her daughter continued giggling but didn’t object. So I guess it was just a case of “mahu tapi malu”. I ended up filling the tumblers of a few others as well, who gave the same reaction as Lin and her daughter.

As we were about to leave, Lin pulled me aside, wanting to tell me something privately.

You all remember Mr Darling? Those who don’t know who I’m talking about, you can just search for the words Mr Darling, and you’ll be able to read stories about him and the women in his life. Just a short recap, Mr Darling had met Yah (another client of mine) during one hospital appointment, and the moment he found out that Yah was a widow, he immediately proposed marriage! Crazy! He had by then been divorced. Yah didn’t say yes, but did give him her phone number. And he started calling/texting Yah late nights… calling her darling etc (which btw, was how I came up with the nickname Mr Darling for him!). In the end, it was Yah who fell heads over heels (up to angau level) over him, and began stalking him while Mr Darling himself tried to avoid her after getting to know her better.

It was only later that Lin came in as my client… and what a surprise it was to me when I found out that Lin was Mr Darling’s ex-wife. Anyway, there were a few more twist and turns to their drama, and in the end Mr Darling married somebody else – someone who never came into the picture before.

Back to the story on why Lin pulled me aside to talk to me.

Akak ada dengar cerita tak pasal xxx (Mr Darling’s real name)?”

Kenapa?”

Dia rogol anak tiri dia, sekarang dah jadi kes polis, bini dia buat report.”

AIYO!! I had known all along that when he proposed to Yah and he coaxed Lin to remarry him, all he wanted was to have sex! But his 14 year old step-daughter? That’s way too much!

The girl must be traumatised as it is. I just hope she is not infected with HIV as well..

 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Of clinic duties, gathering and running for charity

It had been quite a while since I last went to Taiping hospital for my clinic duty. The last time was last year I think. I was supposed to be on duty in January, but due to some urgent family matters, I had to cancel at the very last minute without being able to find a replacement.

Yesterday I was on duty again, and this time one of the trainee volunteers finally came along with me. We have a few teams, all with 2 members in each team, except me. I purposely didn’t put any specific “partner” with me so that any of the trainees could join me. But, despite telling the trainees time and again that they could join me during my clinic duty for their “hands-on” training, for the past few months, none of them took up my offer. So it was good that one of them finally took up the offer yesterday.

I fetched the trainee volunteer at our center, then off we headed to Taiping. Just as I opened the door to the doctor’s room to inform the nurse that we were already there, I heard the doctor asking the nurse, “Buddies tak mai ka hari ni?” (the doc’s a Chinese but when she speaks Malay, she speaks more of the northern dialect) and the nurse just answered, “Tu ha!”

Both the trainee volunteer and I then waited at the make-shift counselling room. We waited and waited and waited… but no cases were referred. So I went over to the doctor’s room to ask the nurse and to my surprise she said, “Buat masa ni belum ada yang lain, yang tadi tu je satu.”

Yang tadi?” I asked. “Takde siapa datang pun!”

The nurse had told the patient to see me after seeing the doctor and taking his medication from the pharmacist. But I guess after taking his ARV, he simply left.

We just ended up meeting one client, whose case had already been referred to us last month, and who came just to pass us some supporting documents to enable us to help her apply for financial assistance for her children. So the trainee volunteer didn’t really learn anything much from this trip. By noon, we left and had lunch at a restaurant nearby; and by 1.30 pm, we were already back in Ipoh.

Today, I was on clinic duty at Ipoh GH, and again, the same trainee agreed to join me. This time we had one case referred to us. A lady on wheelchair was pushed in by a guy and a young lady with a small child tagged along as well.

Apparently this lady was diagnosed HIV+ when she was warded for some stomach problems recently. After she was diagnosed +ve, her husband was also sent for blood test, and he too was confirmed +ve. I’m not sure if they were hiding anything, but according to the husband, they suspect the wife may have been infected during a blood transfusion which took place when she gave birth to their youngest child, now 15 years old. Their daughter who was also in the room with us, then said that her youngest sibling falls ill quite often.

I don’t know how true it is, but I told them to get the youngest child to be tested for HIV just to be sure. The couple has 7 children altogether.

Anyway, after finalising some matters with the staff nurse about this Friday’s PLHIV gathering, today I left quite early.

Later, after lunch and zohor, I headed over to the center… there were quite a number of calls I needed to make… to confirm with my clients if they’re coming for the gathering, and to inform them of the exact venue. As always, there were a few who had confirmed attendance earlier, pulled out for whatever reasons.

I also had to call Sofie and Fuzi – I have registered their children for a leadership camp this weekend, and I needed to confirm if they have everything necessary to bring along for camping. Amongst the items in the list of things to bring include 2 pairs of sports shoes. As I had suspected, both Sofie’s sons and Fuzi’s daughter didn’t have any. All they have is a pair of school shoes. So I told Sofie and Fuzi to buy a pair each and I’d reimburse them with the money when I see them for the gathering this Friday. I will pick the children from their homes this Saturday morning and send them to the office of the organisers where they are supposed to meet up before the bus takes them to the campsite.

By the way, this year again Buddies will be taking part in the Ekiden Run for Charity event, and yours truly will be running (or jogging or even partly walking) to raise funds for my HIV families. This time there will be 4 runners in a team and each of us need to run 3 km (compared to last year’s 2 km). Initially we had 3 runners from Buddies (actually 2 proper runners… this orang tua just volunteered so we can raise more funds), and so I told one of them who regularly takes part in runs, to find any of his friends willing to run for Buddies. In other words, to get us an “import” runner. My colleague managed to get one.

Then today the other colleague who’s supposed to represent Buddies, told me that the coach from her club had already submitted her name to represent the club instead, so she won’t be able to represent Buddies. Oh dear, that meant I’d need to look for another runner to represent Buddies. Definitely none of the other volunteers so I finally decided to call Fuzi to ask if her eldest daughter would like to participate. You see, the girl, Wina, 16, always take part in long distance runs at her school and according to Fuzi, is even eager to join various runs but they simply couldn’t afford to send the girl here and there to participate. I told Fuzi I’d fetch Wina at home if she’s willing to run for Buddies. So that settled it…. I hope…

Now I just need to make sure I keep myself fit enough to be able to complete the whole 3 km. To “test power”, this weekend I plan to go “back to school” and play for our under-60 hockey team against the present students’ under 17 team… :)

Please pray that I’ll survive…

 

Monday, 25 April 2011

Another talk & exhibition

After last week’s exhibition booth in Chenderong, I was busy running around like a headless chicken (hmmm…headless chickens should be dead, shouldn’t they? How come they still run around?) doing…. errr…. hmmm…. doing what eh? Well, there were meetings to attend and there was another exhibition we had to prepare for, this time I was to give them a talk as well.

Anyway,  a call came in from a youth club, asking me if they could borrow our exhibition materials and if one of us could help them out with an AIDS Awareness Programme on Saturday 23rd April 2011. This time I couldn’t help them. I needed my volunteers and materials for our own booth during the UniKL-RCMP Open Day on the very same day.

Since the exhibition was a whole day function, we got our volunteers to take turns. There were supposed to be 3 shifts… 9-12, 12-3 and 3-6. Since I needed to give a talk at 2 pm, I took the morning shift. So I loaded all the exhibition materials in my car by Friday.

I got to RCMP about 8.40 am, and with none of the other volunteers in sight, I had to actually unload the things alone. But thank goodness the staff from RCMP helped me out to unload the stuff before I drove out to park my car. I couldn’t park the car at their usual parking space as the space was used for the various booths.

Luckily one of our trainee volunteers works at RCMP and so she was around to help me set up the booth, together with our part-time staff who was actually there to man another booth. 2 other volunteers were supposed to be in the morning shift with me. One came at 9.20am, after all the posters etc had already been put up; while the other one, who didn’t turn up at all, called me at 1 pm, asking, “Exhibition tu hari ni ke esok?” Duh!

5 volunteers were supposed to be on the 2nd shift. 1 said he’d be late, and 2 just informed me last minute to say they couldn’t make it. Well, the one who said he’d be late got lost and never made it. As for the 3rd shift, only 1 turned up. Luckily one of the volunteers from the 2nd shift stayed on to the 3rd shift. But he’s a handicapped person, and so he couldn’t help to pack up and load the things into my car at the end of the day. So yeah, out of the total 11 volunteers who gave their names to help out at the booth, only 5 turned up. Sigh…

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Anyway, the response from those who attended the Open Day, especially from the students, were quite good. Some came over to ask questions about what we do and about HIV/AIDS in general. There was however, one guy (a senior staff at the college I think) who was quite sceptical when he found out I didn’t have any medical background.

You ni doctor ke?”

No, I’m not.”

Then I shouldn’t be talking to you, should I?”

As a matter of fact he didn’t believe me when I said ARV drugs are given out free for the first regime to all Malaysians.

Mana boleh free. Kalau ibu mengandung ada HIV, then yes they are given free treatment. Yang lain if they’re not government servants, mana dapat free.”

I didn’t want to waste my time arguing with him, so, tak nak percaya sudah

As for the talk in the afternoon, it was opened to the public, but not many attended. I think the time itself ie at 2 pm was not an ideal time for people to want to listen to talks and lectures. But the show had to go on, and those who did attend were those really interested to know more. I didn’t touch just on the basics of HIV/AIDS. To me what was important was to share the real happenings out there amongst the PLHIV and their families. The lady in charge later approached me indicating her interest to call us for another talk, this time with a specific target group, like the nursing students (I had earlier given examples how a few nurses did things they shouldn’t have done when dealing with PLHIV).

rcmp7

On the whole, I think the exhibition/talk was a success.

Tomorrow I will be going to Taiping Hospital for my clinic duty, on Wednesday clinic duty in Ipoh and then on Friday will be the PLHIV gathering…

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The kids and the exhibition…

I had promised Sofie’s kids that I’d pick them up at home about 7 am to bring them along with me to the Men Against Violence campaign in Dewan Serbaguna Chendrong. This time I wasn’t in the organising committee of the district level campaign (I was involved in the state level launch last year), so I figured having the 3 kids helping me out was enough. After all, it was just a half day event.

We managed to reach the place at about 7.50 am. Drove up to unload the stuff from the car, then I left the kids there while I went to park my car elsewhere.

Earlier on (that was some time back), I was told that 2 NGOs/departments would be sharing one 20 x 20 feet tent. But this morning when we got there, we found out that 4 NGOs/departments had to share a tent. And we, Buddies, got a booth at a very unfavourable spot… somewhere at the back where most people wouldn’t walk by. Tough! I told the kids they’d have to go to people to distribute the leaflets/booklets instead of waiting for people to come to the booth.

After setting up the booth, I went over to the registration tent. There the organising chair of the campaign saw me and immediately roped me in to help out the committee. Although I told her I only have children to take care of the booth, she said it’d only be for a while then I could go back to the booth. She wanted the committee members who had been involved in the state level launch to participate as well.

So yep, I had to leave the kids to fend for themselves at the booth. In a way, it was good. To them, they were given more responsibility. I passed my camera to the eldest boy, so he was my photographer for the day. The other two did a good job going round distributing leaflets/booklets to the public, especially the school children who attended the MAV campaign launch. I did run back to the booth from time to time to check on them and while I was there, Saiful and Ika kept coming back to get more of the leaflets and booklets. “Kat depan sana tu ramai yang minta,” said Ika. And they did seem happy that they could distribute lots of those leaflets/booklets.

Anyway, Saiful who got quite a number of mak, bapak, kakak and abang angkat at the hospital where he stayed with this mother when she was warded for 2 weeks, earlier this year, called one of his kakak angkat while at the booth. His kakak angkat stays somewhere near the place. Apparently, his kakak angkat too was at the event, so yep, he told her where our booth was so she could find him there.

As for the MAV the launch, actually Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir was initially supposed to launch the campaign. But somehow he could not make it, so he got a replacement… someone who’s more suitable for the event… an advocate for women’s rights. Who else but his very own sister… :)

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I shall not talk much about the MAV campaign since I was actually there representing Buddies. After the campaign launch was done, I ran back to the booth. DP Marina Mahathir was to go round visiting the booths, and the kids got excited when they heard that. They had never met anyone “famous” before. So I decided to let Ika put on the red ribbon when DP Marina came to our booth. And so she did…

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By about 1 pm or so, we packed up all the things. I then decided to bring them for lunch at a fast food restaurant in Batu Gajah before sending them home. On the way home, Ika, who had brought along her cup of drink from the restaurant, threw the cup out the window. Waaa! The moment I saw that from the side mirror, I immediately told her that THAT was a big NO NO! I reminded her that I don’t ever want to see her doing that again…

Overall, I think it was a good outing for the kids. They got to jalan-jalan…. they got exposure… and they did a marvellous job.

Kudos kiddos!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

New clients, old clients…

I was on clinic duty again yesterday. This time I didn’t bother to go round and round to get myself a parking space… I just parked the car at the first space available, it didn’t matter if the place was far or near.

According to the nurses, there was supposed to be one new case. However, since Dr. Ker wasn’t around, not many appointments were fixed for yesterday. When I got to the room, the MOs on duty weren’t there yet, so I took the opportunity to discuss with the nurses on the coming PLHIV gathering at the end of this month. Since the gathering will be held at the hospital, the nurses will take care of the venue, food and goody bags. On our part, we’re supposed to get the PLHIVs to attend and to carry out the event on the day. Shouldn’t be much of a problem I think. We all agreed that it should just be something very informal for the PLHIVs to get to know each other. I think I’d only need to think of one ice-breaking activity just to get things going.

Anyway, the new patient did not turn up. Since I had seen the list of yesterday’s appointment, I knew my old client Jah would be coming. So off I went to the front of the doctor’s room to see if there were any familiar faces, and yep, Jah was there. Excited as always to see me.

Jah used to be the live-wire amongst my clients. Then she remarried and next thing I knew I wasn’t able to call her anymore. For the past 2 years she had not been joining our Family Day as I was not able to contact her. Apparently she had dropped her handphone and that was it. She even lost all the numbers she had saved in it.

So yesterday Jah asked for Shila’s phone number. The 2 had always been very close. So I wrote down on a piece of paper, my number, Shila’s number, the date of the coming PLHIV gathering and the date of our Family Day this year. Since it’s so difficult to get hold of her nowadays, I might as well give her all the info when I got the chance to meet her.

Me: Nah, nombor siapa lagi engko nak?

Jah: Tu, yang mulut becok cakap Indon sama-sama dengan saya gi KL dulu tu apa nama dia kak?

Me: Mulut becok? Cuba cermin dulu diri sendiri tu…

Jah: Kat sini takde cermin kak!

Oh yes, talkative Jah saying that Fuzi is talkative!  I told her if she wants to meet up with her friends, then she should come for the gathering at the end of the month. Jah did sound very interested, but she’d have to go back and seek permission from her husband first.

As we were chatting, one lady came out of the doctor’s room. Jah introduced her to me, they just met that morning and talkative Jah as always would always find it easy to make new friends. Rozi, a single mother with 4 children, had been diagnosed HIV+ since 2007 but her case was never referred to us, probably because her first appointment was during the week when none of us were on duty. Rozi had heard about us from Wani, another client, and was interested to join us but at that time Wani had lost my phone number (just like Jah, she too dropped her handphone)

Since it was Rozi herself who was interested to join us, I didn’t have to explain to her what we Buddies do. When I told her to see me at the counselling room after she was done at the doctor’s room, she agreed.

While waiting for Rozi and Jah to come to the counselling room, I called Wani. Apparently Wani had not been told of the gathering this month and when I told her about it, she immediately agreed to come. She said she had been waiting for me to call her as she wanted to tell me about Rozi. I told Wani I had just met Rozi at the hospital.

Later I found out that immediately after I called Wani, she called Rozi. When Jah and Rozi came to see me at the counselling room, Rozi told me that Wani had just called her.

Rozi’s husband died in 2007, and it was only after that did she find out about her HIV infection. Her youngest child was only 2 years old then and Rozi was quite worried about her. But tests showed that the child, now 6, is negative. Rozi is only 36 this year but has a son (or is it daughter? Lupalah pulak…) who is 20 years old.

Anyway, Rozi works as a factory operator and earns about RM600 per month. Luckily she doesn’t have to pay house rental. But with 2 schooling children it is tough especially at the beginning of the year when she has to pay all the fees and buy all the schooling needs. But Rozi seemed like a strong woman. And she’s so calm. I could sense that she may be suitable for peer support. When I asked if she’d mind talking to newly diagnosed PLHIVs, she immediately said yes. So yep, this new client I’m putting under my care so I can train her for peer support. For a start she will be joining the PLHIV gathering later this month, so that would be a good chance for me to introduce her to the other PLHIVs.

I then offered to send both Jah and Rozi to the bus station. Rozi declined as she said she needed to go to the nearby shopping centre first. Jah, not only accepted my offer, she even added, “Kak… belanja makan dulu kak!” So I just brought her to the cafeteria and we had lunch there before I sent her to the bus station.

After sending Jah to the bus station, I noticed there were a few missed calls from our hotline number (I didn’t hear the phone ring as it was quite noisy at the cafeteria). Then I noticed a text message from our part time staff saying that she received a call from a welfare officer telling us to go to their office the same day to get the form to apply for welfare grant. The form and supporting documents had to be submitted by next day… that’s today!

So yep, had to do my homework until late last night to make sure everything would be ready today…

Friday, 8 April 2011

Symptoms?

I was just about to grab my towel to have my bath this evening when a call came in from an unfamiliar number. It was however, a local mobile number and so I figured it wasn’t one of those unwanted telemarketing calls.

Hello? Is this Ms Afizah from Buddies?”

Ahah, a Buddies related call, it wasn’t a telemarketing call, thank God! The guy wanted to know how many days it would take after possible transmission of HIV, for symptoms to show, and what the symptoms are.

I told him that the only way to know if one is infected is to go for blood tests. And I reminded him that even then, he’d have to take into consideration the “window period”, when even blood tests aren’t able to detect although that person is already infected. And so if the first blood test comes out negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is free from the virus. He is advised to go for another blood test after 3 months to be sure.

Many people seem to think that there’d be symptoms to show that one has been infected with HIV. Most, if not all, of my very own clients never knew they had HIV until they got tested due to other reasons. Many, during their pregnancy, while some when they got tested for other ailments. And based on some of my clients’ stories, a few of their spouses died without even knowing they had HIV.

Makcik Minah, a client whom I never got to meet, only found out about her HIV at the age of 74, 10 years after her husband passed on. She never figured out how she got infected. Chances were, it was through her late husband, who himself never knew he had HIV.

When Fuzi was first diagnosed HIV+, her husband had passed on a few years earlier. After an alleged rape case, Fuzi got pregnant, and it was during this out-of-wedlock pregnancy that she found out she was HIV+. Fuzi was convinced her HIV infection was due to the rape case. She was so worried that her baby, her 5th child, would be infected. Well, that baby was spared from HIV after all the necessary precautions were taken. But to her surprise, it was her 4th son, with her late husband, who was diagnosed HIV+. So Fuzi’s HIV infection wasn’t from the rape case after all. She got it from her late husband, a frequent visitor to Southern Thailand. He probably died without even knowing he had HIV.

Many others knew about their HIV infection years after being infected. Maybe they too thought they weren’t infected since they felt just fine; despite knowing that they were involved in activities exposing them to HIV infection. That is until many years later when they start getting other opportunistic diseases.

So people, if you had ever been involved in activities which may have exposed you to HIV infection, go for voluntary testing okay? Don’t wait until you have passed the virus to someone else (like your spouse) before taking that step.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The K’s

Still remember the K’s? It’s been quite a while since I last blogged about them. I had purposely distanced myself from the family because in addition to the fact that I am not the main buddy, (the main buddy is a male volunteer because the HIV infected is Mr K, while Mrs K had been tested negative) I also wanted them to know that I didn’t like their habit of trying to borrow money every time they needed any. I have so many other clients who are worse off than this family, yet they never complained about not having enough money.

The children’s basic educational needs were however still covered by our Children Education Fund and I still do get updates from time to time about them from their main buddy. However, from time to time, Mrs K would still send me text messages (in SMS lingo which forces me to think extra hard to decipher the message), although not directly asking for money, but implying that she’s so desperate already. And to think that she thinks “kak Afizah tu garang”. Imagine if she had the impression that I was a nice, kind-hearted, soft-spoken person… hehehe…

Well, recently while I was at the HIV clinic, she sent me another text message, telling me that they had to move to another house. She also said she was no longer getting the monthly financial help she used to be getting from the PAF. I don’t know, this family doesn’t seem to know how to manage their finances. Previously when they first got the monthly financial help, Mr K was rather too weak to work. So she was working alone. Now both of them are working, and although they aren’t earning that much, I am sure Mr K’s salary alone is more than the monthly financial help they used to get. I simply don’t like it when my clients expect financial assistance to come their way all their life!

I just told her that the financial assistance from KL is not within our jurisdiction. We could just find out for them.

I am still however, very concerned, about the children’s well-being. When they say they don’t have anything to eat, they usually mean they don’t have anything to eat. And that’s usually because their parents have been spending their income on God knows what… very likely to pay off debts since they like to borrow money from every source they can find.

So when I finally got a message from Shah, their eldest son, instead of from Mrs K herself, saying that they ran out of food at home after moving to the new place, I knew he meant it. I had seen the same situation a few years back, when I went to visit, Shah and his sister were just about to have lunch at 3 pm – a cup of instant noodles, shared. And once when I brought along some groceries, their younger sister would say, “Hari ni adik nak makan nasii!” They hadn’t had any rice for a few days.

This morning I decided to go and visit them. I knew Mr and Mrs K would be at work, but Shah and his youngest sister would be home. Loaded my car with rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, canned sardines, anchovies, eggs, biscuits, milk etc and off I went to look for the house, based on the description given by Shah in his SMS. True to the description given, the house was quite easy to find. I didn’t have to use my GPS.

The moment I honked, it was Shah’s little sister who came to the door first. Yep, remember Baby K? She’s 4 years old now. The moment I mentioned the word IJN (I was asking Shah if the girl still needed to go for follow-ups in IJN), she immediately showed me the scar on her chest, from the surgery done more than a year ago. Glad to note the girl seemed to be doing fine.

Anyway, I asked Shah if he had any plans for his future. I had been coaxing since after his SPM (his results weren’t too good) to take up one of the short courses offered by Giat Mara. I could see he had the interest for stuff like automotive or electrical, so I had advised him to acquire those skills further in Giat Mara. But he wasn’t keen back then. He said he wanted to work to help with the family’s financial needs. His parents weren’t too encouraging either, always giving the “dia tak nak” excuse.

Shah did go to a southern state for a while, supposedly to work, but after just 2 months, he came back and stayed home, and all he did since then was to take care of Baby K at home while his parents were out. What kind of a future do you think he has if he continues doing the same?

Thank goodness when I asked him today, Shah said he will start his short course in June, doing electrical wiring. He’d better not change his mind before June comes…

 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Upcoming Activities…

3 months passed by so quickly. We now have 3 more months to our Family Day (it’s usually held on the first Sunday of August, but since August this year is fasting month, we’ve decided to have it on the first Sunday of July instead), and based on how fast the first 3 months of the year seemed to fly, we figured it’s time to start planning for our Family Day immediately.

Before that, there are quite a number of activities we have to plan for. On the 17th of April, we’re taking up an exhibition booth during the “Men Against Violence” campaign to be held at Dewan Serbaguna Chenderong. On the 23rd of April, we’re taking up a booth during the Open Day of UniKL-RCMP here in Ipoh. I will also be giving a talk to the students on that very same day. Then, on the 29th of April, there will be a PLHIV gathering at Hospital Ipoh, sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. Actually a medical rep approached the doctor at the HIV clinic about the matter, and the doctor approached me to help organise the gathering. The pharmaceutical company pays… the HIV clinic staff takes care of the place and ordering the food etc, while we Buddies help to invite the PLHIVs and to organise the do. At the same time, I was also been offered 4 free places for “my children” to participate in a Leadership Camp to be held from 30th April – 2nd May.

So yeah, I’ve been doing lots of calling and running around. On Thursday, I went over to the HIV clinic to discuss with the staff nurse about the PLHIV gathering. I needed to be sure what we needed to do. So yeah, who’s doing what is now settled.

Back from the HIV Clinic, I started calling/texting my clients to inform them about the gathering. I also approached 3 of my clients with children in forms 3, 4 and 5, asking if their children would like to join the leadership camp. Managed to get Sofie’s 2 older sons (forms 3 and 5), Fuzi’s form 4 daughter, and Aini’s form 5 daughter. 2 girls and 2 boys. Perfect! Since I only got the forms for the camp on Thursday itself, I needed to visit these clients to get the children and their mothers to sign the form.

So on Friday afternoon, first I went to visit Fuzi. I purposely went in the afternoon so that Wina, the daughter would be home to sign the form. When I got there, Fuzi’s 2 younger sons, Ijam and Iwan were playing outside. “Tak sekolah ke?” I asked Ijam, knowing that his school session is in the afternoon. Fuzi said he complained earlier that he wasn’t feeling too well.

Anyway, Wina immediately filled in the form and signed it. She also helped to fill in the section for the guardian’s permission. All Fuzi had to do was to just sign. She didn’t even bother to read what she was signing.

After leaving Fuzi’s house, I immediately  headed to Sofie’s house. However, her 2 older boys were not home so I couldn’t get them to fill in the form immediately. So I just left the form with Sofie and told her I’d get the forms from her when I bring Saiful to get his glasses which should be ready by early next week. (Just as I’m typing this out, a call came in on my handphone…Akak, cermin mata anak akak dah siap dah." Nasib baik tak sempat nak cakap salah nombor, terus teringat it’s Saiful’s.)

This morning, after my usual pasar tani routine, I went over to Aini’s house to get her daughter to sign the form for the camp. Unlike the 2 younger boys, the girl is not the type who likes to go out on weekends, so she was home. I managed to get her to fill in and sign the form on the spot.

2 forms filled in and signed. Now just to get the forms from Sofie’s sons. I should be getting them when I fetch Saiful to bring him to get his new pair of glasses.

Later today, I went over to the center to meet up with a few fellow volunteers before going together to the suggested venue of our coming Family Day in July. Since we had never been to the place before, we figured it would be best if we could look around first to be able to decide on what kind of activities we should plan for the day.

I so love the place. So beautiful and serene. All 4 of us who went today agreed it was a perfect choice for this year’s Family Day.

Now to raise funds for the event…