Monday, April 28, 2008

Only 20

She was 17 when they met, 19 when they married on 25/4 last year, and 20 when she became a mother on 25/4 last week. She also died that day.

I have been feeling very sad about what happened in the early hours of last Friday, only a few hours after the wine-and-chat session in my house. We only heard on Friday evening about the tragedy that never should have happened, especially in this age and time when mother mortality, according to my friend Linda, is zero for a case like this.

The girl was the DIL of one of our Filipino workers. They live in a kongsi (shared workers' houses) nearby. What happened was she went into labor about 3 am, the baby boy came out fine and healthy but the mother was bleeding badly. These workers have no cars. They knocked on their neighbour's door (one of the housing houses) and the occupants, who knew them, came out. They refused to help. I feel like asking these people how it feels to be responsible. I see a Taoist sign on their door. Don't they believe in karma or something? Or does that not apply if the people who ask for help are lowly migrant laborers?
They next went to the project manager's house, also nearby. He had his phone off, and his bedroom was at the back so he didn't hear anything, not even the barking of his dogs. The dogs were the reason why the workers didn't climb over the gate, which is what they told me when I asked them why they did not climb over. They then desperately called a cab. I don't know why they didn't call an ambulance. Queen Elizabeth Hospital is only 4 minutes away. The taxi-driver came, saw the amount of blood, and drove away. I hope he has sleepless nights forever. By then, it was day break and the project manager was woken again. He went and carried the girl to his truck. But the family requested that he put her back into the house when they saw she was nearly dead. The ambulance then came, but it was too late. Linda, a qualified nurse, told me all the girl needed was a jab of a certain drug that will stop the bleeding. Just one jab.

And life goes on. The baby boy's so beautiful. The 21-year old father was smiling; his wife hardly cold in the grave. It is a 'face' thing for them not to cry, I think, because his mom (who's only 38, a grandma!) said he misses his wife even though he smiles. I also think it's because they have this fatalistic outlook on life, since life's so harsh for them. Wiping her tears, the baby's grandma said that the last two nights, the baby would twist his head left and right, eyes wide, instinctively searching for his mother. As I held the baby, I too was overcome by the impotent helplessness and sorrow of the whole tragedy. Why didn't they come to us, only a minute away? They said that in their confusion, they didn't think of that, and I suspect that they probably didn't think of asking us because of their status, which makes it so wrong for us. There is a doctor on my street too, and that makes it even more frustrating for me to accept what happened.
So many times we blame the migrant, legal and illegal, for the crimes in this country. And the statistics do show they are to blame for the majority of the crimes. However, many of them put up with discrimination and exploitation and they really have no one to help them. They move around like no-class humans. Their kids cannot go to school. Even if they did, as in the case of my helper Vero's sons whom my FIL had helped put through primary school, the discrimination and disdain from local students make them feel so low all the time. The government, about 4 years ago, stopped all migrant workers' kids from schooling and Vero's boys stopped school, one having completed primary 6 and the other, only primary 4. Sabah has the most number of illegal and legal workers, and these workers' children are growing up more illiterate than their parents. Can you imagine the scenario when they are older?
There is this Christian lady in KK whom I think is an angel. She started teaching English to the kids of illegal and legal workers from her detached house in an upscale area. If somebody was to do that, I'd say it is very commendable. But with no funding (maybe there are donations, I'm not sure) or support from the government (because it is an issue the govt doesn't want to face) and having the kids over a few times a week, for over 10 years, this woman's compassion reminds me of Mother Teresa. The rest of us Christians go to church, ra-ra-rah away during worship, break into tongues at the slightest cue, attend countless seminars and spiritual self-improvement courses but are we doing what Jesus said are the most important: 1. Love God 2. Love Your Neighbour?


Anonymous said...

Powerful, Terri. I feel like crying. Jesus is color, race, and status blind. So should we. I find it hard to accept that there are still so many heartless people out there.

Big Boys Oven said...

I am deeply sad to hear of this news! I pray the mother able to rest in peace in heaven! Deeply sad.

Precious Pea said...

Such a tragedy. May the young mother rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad too to read this. People are so selfish. How can anyone go back to sleep if somebody's life depends on their help? Imagine ourselves in the position of the girl or her family. I am shocked.


Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

This is the consequence from our society nowadays! Dont u think so? I wud say this tradegy has some sort of co-related issues from ppl's family background, way they brought up, education + their attitude. Again, ppl's attitude has at least 60% non-related with their religion. Im not saying I go against any of the religions, but, some how I find it's quite true.
If they can dial 999 in the 1st place, at least the problem has solved by half. Again if ppl can Sympathize a bit , things wont happened like now. BUT, sometimes , quite sad to say Fear overcome sympathy here. ppl just "Kong-si" here! scared to help out!
I'm quite angry here.

Shan said...

You really gave me something to chew over Terri. So much for humans being human. We are capable of some truly shocking things when it comes to looking down on others.

b said...

Thanks Terri for blogging about this.. though no amount of sympathy, effort will bring back the lady who gave birth to the beautiful baby boy....but writing about it and raising our awareness about these issues is so so important. I'm sure many of us were moved by your entry.

Recently some NGOs held a forum on migrant workers.. you probably read about it too in the NST/the Star..I need to learn more about these issues. I'll copy the link below...

My childhood friend who's dedicated her career working with patients/children infected with AIDS once told me its so frustrating because of the lack of support and also how some people shun away from these patients or discriminate against them..though many reasons may explain this, I believe raising awareness and dissipating fear will help at least in some ways. (The same goes with environmental work.. I see that more people are aware and have more empathy nowadays though we still have a long way to go in changing behaviours,,, but slowly, surely...)

Sabah is such a unique state as many of us come into direct contact/or learn about these people from family/friends as there are so many non-malaysians living admist the community. I just pray that God gives us the wisdom to act whenever we're confronted with such situation and to continuously learn in our weakneses to thank Him for His blessings and grace in our lives everyday.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

thanks to all who were moved and expressed their feelings. i hope we all do some soul-searching and reach out a helping hand when needed, regardless of race or status. tt includes me.

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