The past 8 weeks were a very busy period for us, but we consider ourselves most fortunate to have been in a position of use to others. We were not simply attending to the needs of families, but a significant proportion of our energy was spent attending to the numerous offerings of goodwill. The generosity, care and concern that came forth were tremendous and the saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” came to mind.
As we processed more applications for financial assistance, we got a sense that it was very difficult for people to be asking for help in the first place. Each had their own story, but a common theme was the pain of failure and feelings of desperation. What they needed was not just a bit of money to get by but also the reassurance that they will not be judged harshly. Several kept emphasising that what they really wanted was being able to earn their own keep again. The ability to care for oneself as well as to contribute is critical for our wellbeing. Being told or having the impression that we cannot contribute must be one of the most painful experiences.
After being told that they will be receiving some financial assistance, a couple spent a morning painting a peacock and sending it to us via WhatsApp with the explanation, “Everyone must stay united and strong together like the feathers of the peacock. It is difficult now but like feathers of the peacock, life is beautiful.” Like the many who made offers of goodwill, they wanted to give, and it was a gift we felt really blessed to receive.
During a time when movement into neighbourhoods were strongly discouraged and regulated, we were still able to deliver food, computers and wifi as well as essentials such as masks mainly because of the mutual care and concern among residents. Once a resource was dropped off, residents got to work. These residents were also able to meet needs that our organisation does not usually attend to. When we were entrusted with a significant donation of masks that the donors wanted older persons to receive, these residents knew exactly where they lived.
Like us, the residents who helped are aware of the privilege to be able to contribute. A 19-year-old who delivers food with his mother, shared that he is constantly worried about the lack of family income but by being able to do something for others, he feels hopeful that his family will be able to overcome their challenges. His confidence also stems from the enjoyable experience of working closely with his mother to care for others.
In 3 days, we will try to gradually regain normalcy as we knew it. However, after these past weeks, we know that what was considered normal for the families in our membership is not necessarily a situation we want to maintain. Our focus on food, internet connectivity, employment support and financial assistance for family stability remains essential even as we pick up on work that we had to put on hold. We certainly could do with the continued support of everyone who is in the blessed position to give.
Wishing you and all at home, good health, and peace of mind.
What is my life if I am no longer useful to others? – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe