Thursday, 2 December 2010

World AIDS Day and other ramblings

December is, to me, a month of observance days. From World AIDS Day (Dec 1) and International Volunteer Day (Dec 5) to International Human Rights Day (Dec 10), there's just no shortage of worthy causes that an activist and concerned citizen can volunteer for or get involved in.

As with the previous years, PT Foundation, formerly known as Pink Triangle Foundation Malaysia, observed World AIDS Day by holding a Red Ribbon Carnival at Sg. Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur.

I signed up to be a volunteer for this fundraising and awareness-raising campaign, although it was a hell of a world of difference from the work I am used to doing for Pink Triangle as a volunteer lawyer and outreach worker.

Attending the volunteer induction course at the PT Foundation drop-in centre in Chow Kit brought back waves of memories. I remember taking the bus there on Friday afternoons in 2004 to provide legal aid and counselling services. I remember endless cups of tea imbibed and endless heart-to-heart conversations shared at the drop-in centre. I remember buying groceries and personal care products for the halfway homes and lugging it all there on foot from the monorail station or bus stop. I remember the evenings spent distributing condoms and dispensing legal information in Chow Kit as part of our harm reduction and intervention programme. My experience as a legal aid volunteer had exposed me to a wider range of experiences, skills and knowledge than what private legal practice could have offered, and prepared me for my current role as a protector of vulnerable and marginalised persons. For this, and for so much else, I will always be grateful.

As my duty as a PT Foundation - World AIDS Day volunteer on Saturday would not start until 1400 hrs, I managed to squeeze in 4 hours at the SPCA animal shelter before barrelling through the weekend downtown traffic to Sg. Wang Plaza. I arrived at the SPCA in the morning and was informed by the staff that there was a group of 7 schoolgirls who were there to help out at the shelter as part of a compulsory community work programme for their school credits. I gamely took on the challenge of conducting hands-on training and an impromptu volunteer briefing session for the overprotected youngsters. I swear by the end of 4 hours that it was more draining on my energy and sanity than just doing everything by myself. But train the younger generation we must, if only they'd just pay attention and follow instructions at least half the time! I think all 7 girls left their brains at home when they came to the SPCA that day. I briefed all of them on the importance of keeping gates and cage doors shut and not letting animals out without approval and my advice seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Tsk. Kids nowadays. I turned around to teach 2 of them how to clip matted hair and spray antiseptic on wounds, and the other 5 stood near the entrance of the post-operative care enclosure, holding the enclosure gate open and letting the dogs escape. After the 3rd dog had escaped, they told me that the dogs are escaping. (Some delayed reaction there. Makes you wonder what's in the average teen's diet). I snapped: "Shut the gate, quick!" and sent 2 of the girls out with leashes to catch the escaped dogs. The girls stood around listlessly like little lost lambs, and so I had to catch all the dogs myself and start over with the training. I am glad, though, that by the end of the 4 hours, we did manage to bathe and tickwash more than 20 dogs and render basic treatment for sores and scrapes. I washed and disinfected the Cattery, the B-Extension Kennels, the Post-Operative Care Kennels and the Front/Reception/Admin area before I put everything away, cleaned myself up and got ready to report for duty at Sg. Wang Plaza. The traffic was murder at that time of day and I felt like blowing up the whole street, not that it would have helped the traffic congestion. Still, I was glad that I was able to carry out my duties as a volunteer and that my services were still needed despite my tardiness.

The information booth at the Command Centre on the 6th Floor, where we volunteers received our instructions.

Roving Angels with merchandise to raise awareness and funds in conjunction with World AIDS Day.

My teammates, Sasha and Jonathan, were all ready to greet visitors.

Would you like to donate to the cause of AIDS education, outreach, prevention and assistance for PLWHA?

Back at the Command Centre, hardworking volunteers made red ribbons for distribution on Sunday.

Activism has never looked this yummy!

PTF Volunteers demonstrated how each of us can "Be The Message".

At a personal level, my goal is to lobby pharmaceutical companies to put their patents in the UNITAID patent pool to make HIV medication more affordable. If we have the determination and commitment, each of us can be a mechanism of social change to assist and support the more vulnerable members of our society.

For those of us who wish to work with organisations that help the marginalised and provide support and assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), you may wish to support PT Foundation as a volunteer, donor or sponsor. PT Foundation's objectives, as listed in their official website, are as follows:
1. To help minimize the rate of infection of HIV/AIDS amongst the five target communities.
2. To help provide care and support and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.
3. To help reduce discrimination against the five communities that is based on ignorance and lack of information.

Besides providing counselling and care to persons of concern, PT Foundation also conducts talks, seminars and educational and awareness campaigns, and works together with the authorities and law enforcement agencies to find durable solutions to problems involving vulnerable groups. The core communities manage their own safe spaces, including the drop-in centres and halfway homes.

Contributions in cash to fund the projects and keep the safe spaces in operation are always welcome, as are contributions in kind (dry foods such as biscuits, tea and coffee, soap, shampoo, blankets, towels and even comic books and magazines). For further information, please contact PT Foundation to find out how you can support the noble work that they do:

PT Foundation
Address: No. 7C/1, Jalan Ipoh Kecil, Off Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-40444611
Fax: 03-40444622
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday (Except public holiday)

IKHLAS Drop-in Centre (Drug User Program)
Address: 30A-30B Lorong Haji Taib 4, Chow Kit, 50350 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-40451404
Fax: 03-40444622
Opening Hours: 9am-4pm, Monday-Friday (Except public holiday)


Pak Zawi said...

Ee Lynn,
It will be a great success if you could turn over one of the seven schoolgirls into a dedicated volunteer knowing the kind of uninitiated kids they were. I presume volunteerism comes from within and it can't be forced upon them just like how they made Paris Hilton do social duties as a penalty for an offense .
I am most impressed with people like you who could put in so much work within the space of 24 hrs. Many people couldn't manage their time and grumble about not having enough time to do anything.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Should have made CT Scan compulsory for would be volunteers....hahaha....guess those kids don't even have passion or love for animals. What a pity! Most people whom my Mama and Dad meet through work wouldn't believe that they scoop poo twice a day!
We thank you for your work for the HIV/Aids cause. MMMMWWWWAAAHHHHHH!!!! ((((HUGS)))) purrrr....meow!

Ellen Whyte said...

I forgot about World AIDS Day. You're doing a good job in an impossible situation.

Pat said...

Since I no longer read the newspapers, I didn't know it was World AIDS day, either.

And about kids and animals: Yes, I think their disinterest is so evident. Most think an animal is just for petting and showing off at the end of a leash. The bathing, and the poop-cleaning, and the house-breaking -that's for the maid or some other slave.

People see our girls and think they're perfect: simply born clean and pretty and well-groomed. 'Can we get one, too, mama?' children go. I always say, 'Do you promise to pick up all their poop every day? They poop twice or three times a day, you know" - and all said with a BIG SMILE ;)

Not the best advertisement for re-homing for the SPCA, eh?! But dogs and cats are not toys. I can't stand it when people/children think they are!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Abang Zawi,
I too hope that at least one out of every 4-5 schoolchildren who come to help out for the day end up becoming dedicated volunteers. We can't blame children for being overprotected and incompetent. It's parents and society that are guilty of shielding children from responsibilities such as housework and doing odd jobs. Still, practice makes perfect, so if those girls would come back another 2 - 3 times, they would be able to pick up good animal care skills from the staff and senior volunteers.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-in-Sydney,
Looking at those girls the other day, they don't seem like they have any passion for anything but buying the latest trendy clothes and accessories. For young people, they were completely devoid of inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. We do occasionally get bright, inquiring, helpful and confident young people coming over to help out. Many later become fosterers and rescuers in their own right.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Ellen, Au and Target,
Thank you for your kind words! We all do the best we can!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Pat,
Truer words have never been uttered! Out of the 7 girls, 3 have dogs at home but have never bathed or cleaned up after their own dogs. Everything is done by their maids. I wonder how these girls are going to cope with college if they don't even have to good sense to shut a gate to stop a dog from escaping. And at age 16 - 17, it's about time they start thinking about their future and getting a job.

Unknown said...

I applaud you for your wonderful efforts and dedication. It takes more than determination.You've got it all.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Keats,
Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. It's not easy having to train young "volunteers" who are uninterested and unwilling to learn, but sometimes, just sometimes, when we make young people feel needed and important, and we let them know how much we appreciate their contributions and that we want to work with them again, we might be able to reach out to them. I realised a few years ago that we are dealing with a rather difficult younger generation today. Most of the young ones born after 1990 want to be treated as adults, but don't have the maturity, skills or sense of responsibility and professionalism that adults do. Teens of previous generations had a stronger sense of responsibility due to the fact that families were bigger back then, hence there were more younger siblings to look after, and due to their families' economic constraints.

mNadeshiko said...

wow. you go girl! i'm always impressed with you!
seeing your non-stop activities made me think that i'm not that busy. xD
keep it up!!! and all the best to you!

btw, im going back for spring break next march. do invite me for any activities ok~~~~~

Anonymous said...

Ee Lynn,
I continue to be amazed and in awe of all the good that you do to serve your fellow beings... be they human or of the animal variety.
So happy to read of your continued adventures. Keep up the great work!
Warm regards,

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Ili,
Hey! I wanted to tell you that I tried to leave you a comment in your blog many times but there's something wrong with the comment box -- it gets cut off halfway and there's no Post Comment button. I tried on different computers but it still didn't work.
Kid, you're doing a good job as you are. Do keep in touch and lemme know when you're back -- there's lots of stuff we can do together. MNS Raptor Watch Week = second weekend of March, if you can get back here in time!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Mutt,
How good of you to drop by! Thank you very much for visiting! I try to do the best I can with no personal agenda and leave the rest to Providence.

louis said...


If there's a national award for selfless, untiring humanitarian public service you should own it. But something tells me you would be reluctant to accept it.



Congrats on your effort and I believe the event has been very successful. Indeed awareness on HIV need to have more supports and you have shown a very good example to others ..Keep it up sis ....

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for your kind comment, Abang Rizal. Thanks to all the dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers, we raised over RM15k that weekend. The funds will go towards AIDS education, prevention and intervention work. More importantly, we helped to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Louis,
Thank you as always for your support and kind words. Pshaw! What award? I haven't done anything worthy of an award yet! I can name you entire lists of selfless, amazing, inspiring candidates for awards, though!

mNadeshiko said...

haha~~ really?!!! now wonder there are no more comments from my frens... i'll try to fix it. yeah~ i'll be back by then. i'll reach klia on 7th march. hehehe.