KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — The single storey bungalow is located in the quieter part of Kuching, Sarawak.
There is a sense of tranquillity because of the location. But this former government house is a refuge for those impacted by HIV/AIDS.
The Teratak Kasih Tok Nan project under the patronage of Tanjung Datu assemblyman Datuk Jamilah Anu, the widow of the fifth chief minister of Sarawak Tan Sri Adenan Satem, was set up by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF).
It is run by the Sarawak AIDS Concern Society, a partner organisation of the Malaysian AIDS Council.
Last night, the project was awarded the patron’s award for outstanding contribution to ending AIDS by MAF during its Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner.
Among others, the centre serves as a halfway house for people who need to travel long distances to receive treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital.
It also provides community-based HIV testing, counselling, treatment literacy, and legal and welfare service referrals.
Life skills training and other social reintegration support are also provided.
“Sarawak is different from semenanjung because of the distances that people have to travel to get treatment,” said Jamilah.
“Until today, that house is being used for patients, by family members. I will be there, once in a while, to see to their needs.”
Jamilah, who is involved in many other charitable projects, said the initiative started when MAF representatives approached her for help about four years ago.
“I wanted to do something. So, I engaged with the state government and we managed to get an old house that was then renovated with the financial sponsorship of a few friends who were very generous and wanted to do their bit,” she said.
The foundation also held a gala dinner in Kuching that managed to raise about RM500,000.
She added that progress for the centre has been satisfying.
“It is a small, but useful place. There are people there to help them and as far as welfare is concerned, we work with the Malaysian AIDS Foundation to get assistance.”
“This is shown when clients from outside of the Kuching area come to this centre for our services while they wait for their treatment at nearby hospitals and clinics.”
Jamilah added that there were plans to further promote the centre in Sarawak as its services were still not known to everyone in Sarawak despite being operational for two years.
“Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will be used as this is the most effective medium for the purpose of disseminating information and also awareness to society.”
Jamilah said among the challenges regarding HIV in Sarawak was getting over the stigma and discrimination from society.
“We need to get rid of the stigma. We need to spread awareness.
“People living with HIV/AIDS do not seem to be given the space and opportunity to be part of society.
“Indirectly, the stigma and discrimination that is created will have a negative effect to those living with HIV especially in their social, psychological and economic aspects.”
The home is named after her husband and Jamilah said that he would have been proud with the recognition.
“He was always supportive of me doing charitable work. I was awarded for a few other things that I did for charity and he used to say in his speech, ‘She has a big heart’.”
Of the award, she said she was honoured and humbled to have received it.
“I would like to dedicate this award to those who have been involved with Teratak Kasih Tok Nan.”
Malay Mail was the media partner for the event.