It has never been easy for me to take care of my wife who has battled schizophrenia for 40 years. As her sole caregiver, I have to write for a living to provide the necessary financial and social support for her. Matters have worsened after she was stricken with arthritis 7 years ago.
The severe knee problems which she faces make it practically impossible for her to continue to help me carry my books and then sell it at selected churches and public forums. My wife used to cry when she sees me struggling to carry 100 books as I have problems getting relatives and friends to help out.
The thought of giving up writing completely though I am trying so hard to be self-reliant has crossed my mind one time too - many because I feel discouraged by the lack of caregiver support.
But sometimes all it takes is for someone to believe in you and your cause, and you can bounce back once again. This was when a female activist from the Young PAP (YP) Cashew branch, Miss Elaina Olivia Chong and her boyfriend came to my rescue. They visited my wife and I in our home and went out of their way to help us, buying 20 copies of my recent book, linking me up with potential buyers and providing me with volunteers to help me market my books at a Catholic church last weekend.
The YP PAP activists who gave me excellent support established good rapport with the parishioners, resulting in my marketing over 70 books, enabling me to put food on our table and be well positioned to provide the recreational and medical needs for my wife. These hardworking volunteers were out in the hot burning sun, raising awareness of mental illness and encouraging their readers to support caregivers like myself.
The staff and priests were equally supportive, with one of them – the Assistant Priest, thanking the YP volunteers who rendered the much-needed support for me to carry on my caregiving journey. He encouraged the volunteers to carry on their good work.
I am deeply touched and motivated to carry on my writing career because of this wonderful structural support. I guess the volunteers helped because they were inspired by my devotion and care for my wife.
Undoubtedly, my perception of the PAP has been pleasantly enhanced by these PAP YP activists who sacrificed their rest day to give hope, encouragement and support for those who sometimes feel that they are left out in the cold.
- Raymond Anthony Fernando