Mak­ing ends meet

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By GAY­ATHRI NAIR star2@thes­tar.com.my

EVEN when govern­ment fund­ing ended last year, Rumah Sole­hah care­taker Fadzi­lah Abd Hamid had to keep her home for women liv­ing with HIV and AIDS go­ing. She couldn’t turn out the five women un­der her care as they have nowhere to go. As it is, Fadzi­lah only takes in the most des­per­ate cases re­ferred to her by hos­pi­tals.

“I can only house five women in the home. It is not that I don’t want to ac­cept more, but I can­not af­ford to sup­port them fi­nan­cially,” says the for­mer nurse.

Rumah Sole­hah is an or­gan­i­sa­tion un­der the um­brella of the Is­lamic Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia that pro­vides med­i­cal and psy­cho-so­cial ser­vices to women and chil­dren in­fected and af­fected by HIV and AIDS.

They also run a chil­dren’s home which is still re­ceiv­ing govern­ment fund­ing.

It costs about RM5000 a month to run the home, and Fadzi­lah strug­gles to keep to this budget, even when prices of food and util­i­ties have gone up.

The chal­lenge is for her to pro­vide the women un­der her care nu­tiri­tious meals on a tight budget. It’s not some­thing Fadzi­lah can stint on as the women must eat well to en­sure their im­mu­nity sys­tem is healthy.

“These days I have to sur­vey var­i­ous places es­pe­cially wet mar­kets and find the cheap­est deals to feed my girls. If we have fish, it’s the cheap­est type that can be found such as ikan se­lar (mack­erel). When we buy chicken, we use it in fried rice and noo­dles so we can stretch them out through the week,” re­lates Fadzi­lah.

“We have a wash­ing ma­chine in the home, but we now only use it for wash­ing heav­ier loads such as bed linens and cur­tains to save on our elec­tric­ity bills,” she adds.

The home also pro­vides trans­porta­tion for the women’s trips for treat­ments.

“There is no way we can limit the trips to the hos­pi­tals, as the women re­quire their treat­ment on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. So, we have also been af­fected by the rise in petrol prices,” says Fadzi­lah.

Apart from tak­ing care of her charges’ ba­sic needs, Fadzi­lah also teaches them

I can only house five women in the home. It is not that I don’t want to ac­cept more, but I can­not af­ford to sup­port them fi­nan­cially.

—Fadzi­lah abd hamid

in­come-gen­er­at­ing skills. “I used to run a bak­ing class at the home. Be­fore, we were able to buy the in­gre­di­ents for bak­ing but we lack the funds to do so now. I can only teach them to make food us­ing cheaper in­gre­di­ents such as

cu­cur bawang,” she says. Reg­u­lar spon­sor­ships have gone down in re­cent months, and now the home re­lies on pub­lic do­na­tions.

These days, Fadzi­lah is also seek­ing funds to buy arts and crafts ma­te­ri­als so the women in her home can make dec­o­ra­tive flow­ers and cos­tume jew­ellery to sell to those who visit the home.

For con­tri­bu­tions to Rumah Sole­hah for women, con­tact Fadzi­lah at 03 9282 1533.

Eat­ing well: The chal­lenge for Fadzi­lah ab­dul Hamid (cen­tre) is feed­ing the women un­der her care nu­tri­tious meals on a tight budget.

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