Another Week Beyond – 1839

Dear Friends,

Firstly, thank you for supporting Fairground. Your presence, donations and warm wishes lifted our spirits as we hosted more than 1800 people. We could not have done it without all our volunteers who are mentioned here. Nonetheless, we would like to give special thanks to Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) for being such an engaging and gracious Guest of Honour, Bank of America Merrill Lynch for being our main sponsor for the 4th year in a row and SCAPE for welcoming the fair on their grounds.

This week, together with representatives from MCCY, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Civil Service College and the Majurity Trust, we met up with Mauricio Lim Miller the founder of the Family Independence Initiative (FII) which began on the premise that “Families, not services, lead change.” FII provides families a technology platform to strengthen social networks, access resources, and support one another in achieving mobility. They see themselves changing the narrative about low-income families and after 17 years, they have a network of communities across the United States of America.

“I can’t help you, but we will pay you for the data you provide about yourselves,” Mauricio stressed to 9 families who were intrigued by where he was taking them. “You will need to form a mutual support group with at least 3 other families; people you like and trust and meet once a month to discuss the progress you have made with your goals.” A young mother responded jokingly that to access welfare, she had to provide a lot of information about her family anyway, so get getting paid for something she is already used to doing would be nice. Her goal was to further her education and Mauricio told her that her efforts at achieving her goal would be valuable data. The idea that they set their own goals and worked with friends to reach them went down well with all present.

On the FII website, it is explained that “families log into their online journals monthly to input information about income and savings, health, education and skills, housing, leadership and connections. When families quantify their habits on a regular basis, they gain a view into their progress and achievements. By tracking their progress, initiative, and well-being through data and stories about their lives, families take control of their own success.”

A local version of the FII platform is currently being developed and based on the enthusiasm of the families who met Mauricio, the success of low-income families in America could well be replicated here. It is too early to tell but when an initiative looks beyond social services and believes that people are the experts of their own lives with the ability to create solutions for their challenges and plans for their aspirations, we certainly hope it succeeds.

Enjoy your weekend.

Gerard

We need to get away from systems that focus on individuals and look toward the collective actions that people are taking. We need to create an environment that honours people helping one another and sharing and being good to one another and recognizing where those efforts are happening. – Mauricio Lim Miller

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