A study of 147,004 patients conducted by the Singhealth Regional Health System reviewing the period 2012 to 2017, found that those who lived in rental housing were 1.57 times more likely to die in the period, compared with those who were living elsewhere. Public rental housing was an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality. This statistic hit home when we joined several neighbours to clean up a home in preparation for the return of an 8-year-old child who is on life-support after passing out while having a high fever. This was an active boy who attended our reading programme regularly and a volunteer’s reaction to this heartbreaking news provided perspective, “No child will ever be too naughty for me.”
This tragic incident also shifted our perspective of a father who usually showed no interest in the activities of the community. He was the first to step forward to clean up the home and when we spoke with him after the task was done, we found someone who believed deeply in the notion of mutual help among neighbours and he asked us to contact him when needed.
Helping professionals are taught a range of skills to convey our attention and understanding to those we encounter but people tend to decide very quickly if the care and concern demonstrated is genuine. Perhaps, it is because these skills help a professional to steer a conversation and remain in control but in a genuine relationship, people give and take and feel free to appreciate each other’s strengths and limitations.
While preparing for the year-end Celebration of Learning a colleague approached some parents for help. These parents volunteer regularly but this time they turned her down. “It is always us you call upon, we ae so tired,” they told her. However, sensing that our colleague was overwhelmed they asked her, “What exactly do you want us to do? ‘Help’ is a big word and we don’t want to end up doing everything.” After some discussion, these parents agreed to help pack the gifts for the event but not before advising our colleague to be more specific when requesting for help.
In every relationship there are boundaries but in a genuine and strong relationship, I think the boundary would be a parameter where those fenced in are comfortable, appreciative and cooperative with each other. It is not a line that keeps people on different sides of the fence. Anyway, sometimes a dividing fence can become a parameter. A volunteer told us that she was never sure if she was connecting with the child, she taught week in week out. He only spoke when spoken to and they went their separate ways once the lesson was done. However, during a recent event both were asked to write a note to each other and upon reading the messages it was clear that they had a relationship to cherish. Both volunteer and child are now committed to another year of learning together.
Enjoy your week.
Challenges are a gift that forces us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand. – Oprah Winfrey