In our attempt to bring about communities where its members can thrive, we bring the gift of connection. We focus on relationships and it is not just how well people are connected to their families and friends but what ties they may have beyond their immediate circle of support. A nurturing family and loyal friends would provide a sense of stability but to develop in the broader sense of the word, one also needs to be in touch with others who can link them with resources and opportunities. So, we are constantly connecting our members to programmes and resources as a means of equipping them to address their challenges.
After mapping out the resources in our neighbourhoods, we would say that there are probably adequate social services and programmes to meet needs but perhaps, their take-up and participation rates could be better. Most of these services and programmes, including our own were initiated in response to identified needs but it appears that an ongoing challenge is getting the “needy” to access them. Thus, programmes no matter how well intended, cannot succeed without the buy-in from its intended participants.
Involving participants when designing a programme increases the chances of their buy-in but I would say it starts by how we perceive and describe them. I imagine that I would not feel very good about myself if I was constantly being referred to as “needy” and I may wonder about the intentions of those who are helping me. If they are paid, compelled or rewarded in other ways to support me, I guess I am not much more than a project or job for them. Sure, they are nice to me but so is the person at the fast food counter serving me my burger.
So, whatever the reason that brought us into the service of others, we need a shared understanding and agreement with those we support about our presence in their lives. This is not exactly an understanding described clearly on paper, but one cultivated on the basis that everyone matters and has an important story that deepens our understanding of the world we share. Stories of success and failure, joy and pain, fairness and unfairness and basically anything else are listened to and valued. When this happens, there is a deep connection among people which we believe leads to cooperation.
Local entertainer Kumar has been a volunteer with us for more than 4 years and families and youths warm up to him quite naturally whenever he comes by. Perhaps, it is because he is a celebrity or maybe it is because he makes them laugh. But I think it is really because he holds a space where all stories are valued, and our families and youth walk away from the conversation experiencing a connection with others and the issues discussed. They may not know each other very well but they certainly enjoyed each other’s company.
On 6 November, Kumar and Sharul Channa will be helping us raise funds with a show that challenges us to examine the quality of connection in our lives. “Kumar Connects” will be a one-night only performance at the Capitol Theatre and you may get your tickets on SISTIC by clicking here or on the poster at the end of this message.
Many of our social ills stem from the lack of human connection and even receiving a smile or a warm greeting brightens our day. Hence, thank you once again for connecting with what we do and if you come to the show you will be greeted warmly and I guarantee, see many smiling faces.
Enjoy your week.
In the tapestry of life, we are all connected. Each of us is a gift to those around us, helping each other to be who we are, weaving a perfect picture together. – Anita Moorjani