Times are tough, but Rumah Solehah does all it can to get by and help others.
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 RM5,000 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 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.