It was 4 am when Diljan received a knock on her door. “My husband has just died,” her elderly neighbour told her. Immediately, Diljan switched on the lights, brought her in and comforted her. As her neighbour began contacting her relatives, Diljan and her husband prepared a small reception table outside their flat so that family and friends arriving could have a warm drink and a small snack. There was also a little sign indicating that all guests were free to use the rest room in her home. “It was not yet daybreak, people would not have eaten,” Diljan explained. “Anyway, during times like that keeping busy and being helpful keeps me and my family calm.”
Diljan regarded her action as nothing extraordinary. “My mother used to say, ‘our neighbours are our closest relatives’, so I have always treated her like my mother. Actually, it is not just me looking after her. She seems to know whenever I am not cooking and would share something from her kitchen. Also, whenever she comes by to have a chat, I seem to finish my chores quicker and the day passes quickly.”
Our neighbourhood is where we live but it becomes our community when we experience a connectedness with our neighbours; and together create a way of life that we find satisfying. Diljan together with 10 other women call themselves “Big Heart” and they give their time and energy freely to make life a little easier for others in their neighbourhood. They connect residents to help schemes and activities provided by the government grassroots organisations and volunteer groups. Currently, their main activity is to redistribute rations to 250 households provided by Free Food for All, a charity that brings supplies on a weekly basis.
Sharing and helping has become a way of life and in caring for others, they have discovered that the experience of self and mutual help is way more satisfying than the experience of simply being helped. Members of Big Heart as well as others in their neighbourhood attempt to live meaningful lives with modest resources. Those with little resources run the risk of being regarded as needy and often systems, organisations or individuals offer much goodwill with best intentions. As all of us endeavour to meet needs, we would do well to be mindful that it is done in a way where people do not feel any lesser as a result.
Enjoy your week.
We are responsible for each other. This is the meaning of community. – John McKnight