Friday, 17 February 2012

Slowly coming out of the shadow

Justina Law and Lucy Goh, best friends, have been the models for eHomemakers' Salam Wanita project.   Lucy was the one who counselled Justina when her bi-polar acted up and was always the helping hand when Justina needed help.  The song "Like a bridge over troubled waters" came to my mind every time I saw Justina calling Lucy for help.   Lucy was the friend who would never go away.
Lucy working hard at eHomemakers.

For years, we counted on both of them to sell at exhibitions and do the backend admin work the ecobaskets.  Amongst the hundreds of women we have helped, only two of them were so dedicated to help other women. They travelled about two hours to eH office and more than 2 hours to go back to Kajang daily. The allowances we could afford to pay were small compared to the hours they put in. Yet they came weekly, so reliable and so honest, because they just wanted to help other women.  They even reported Rm1 buyer donation for their bus fares to us. 

                      Lucy still comes to eHomemakers office weekly todo the backend admin work for
                      the ecobasket project.

After Justina passed away last January, I felt lost for a few months. We could't save her, she was waiting for a gall bladder stone removal for over four months but the appointment was postpone monthly.  How could such  a well-equipped hospital postponing a surgery every month  and let the patient suffered in pains? Was it because she was a poor Lupus patent with no backing?
Lucy also works at the SLE office, helping other Lupus patients.

We had no answers.  We still do not have any answers.

Over the years, a few of the Salaam women passed away in hospitals, often with sudden infections and complications.  Those of us who were close to them remember the situations.  A weight sits on our memory-- black and heavy. 

Why? How?

I asked Lucy once, "How do you deal with Lupus friends' death? There are also Salaam Wanita friends who passed away. Do you feel sad or scared?  Do you feel angry why they have to go?"
Justina's funeral

She lowered her eyes, "It is part of life. I just have to deal with it and keep going."

She has kept herself very active since she recovered from the Lupus relapse about ten years ago. "God gave me a second chance, so I must make full use of my life to help others," she told us when we taped her first video journal for this project in May 2011.  She was still the same quiet person then, the one who was a shadow to the more flamboyant Justina.

Lucy took care of SLE Association affairs with Chee Siew Lian before the new office manager started her work in 2011.  She still travels on buses to hospitals to counsel new patients.  The motivation to do something for others comes from her heart, deep down inside.  Just like Siew Lian, there has been no publicity about her dedication but she has been one of the most important doers for the SLE Association.

At the beginning of this project, Lucy was really afraid of the camera. She froze as soon as we turned on the switch!!  After months of getting her to practise speaking in front of the camera, she finally talked without shyness about her ecobasket selling at a French coffee morning!  Voila!
                                                She has made peace with Justina's going away.
                                                Time is short," she reminds me when I ask her
                                                                to walk slower.                        

Here is another new Lucy! She spoke without giggling
about her buzy weekend and she did it in public!

Over the last few months since Morgan arrived, Lucy has really changed!!! She is now more talkative, more outgoing and she laughs a lot more. When we went to Cambodia to film her fulfilling Justina's wishes to see Tonle Sap and Angkor Wat, I was pleasantly surprised by her cheerfulnees, her excitement over small rocks and her curiosity over foreign foods. She even did a jump at Angkor Wat like Morgan! 

She was the Justina minus the flamboyant mood!

Last week, Morgan went to film her at the SLE's Chinese New Year party.  She spoke in the public and demonstrated hair dying in front of the group. Lucy wasn't the shy Lucy I used to know!!
Lucy speaking in front of a crowd!!!

But, I am so glad to see the change.

I am sure Justina is smiling at her, 'free-oh', like she used to say to us.

By Chong Sheau Ching

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