There is an African saying that if we educate a man, we educate one person but if we educate a woman, we educate a family. Men’s lack of involvement at home seems to be taken as a norm and if we look at our members who volunteer in their neighbourhoods, the majority are mothers. So how do we make sense of such an observation? Well, we think it is best to simply take the view that men are contributing, but in ways we are not aware of yet.
Iskandar, 38 years old, is a father of 6 children. He lost his job as mover in February due to Covid-19 and had a difficult time getting reemployed. Not one to despair, he helped his wife secure orders for small meals required by families. When his wife is busy in the kitchen, he cares for the children, helping them with their home-based learning and schoolwork. He does the marketing and takes on ad-hoc jobs to supplement the household budget which he manages prudently. With some short-term financial assistance from the government, Iskandar has been keeping his family safe, happy, and hopeful.
Rizal, 39 years old, is a father of 4 boys. He is currently a security officer at a condominium and is extremely grateful that he was able to secure the job despite Covid-19. On his doctor’s advice he had to stop riding a bicycle to deliver food because it was hurting his knees. While his income is now more stable, he is worried that he will not be able to meet his children’s teachers at school when needed as he no longer has flexible work hours. The one thing Rizal misses most about life before the circuit-breaker are the picnics he has with his family during the weekend.
Yasser is 39 years old and a father of 6. He is waiting to begin work in the community care industry and remembers his father fondly as a role model who features in many of his happy childhood memories. He remembers the man as a peacemaker in the family that was hard working and a disciplinarian who was firm yet gentle. Yasser believes that household chores and care-giving responsibilities are to be shared with his wife and he credits this reasoning to his father.
It is not uncommon that we have opinions about people, places and situations and we hold them dear as they create a picture of the world that we have come to accept as true. Sometimes, it is a picture that vilifies others according to their ethnicity, gender, choices, faith, or any possible way we may choose to categorise them. Yet, we feel justified because in our mind it is the truth. Accurately, it is our truth and one that we must constantly doubt if we are able to live harmoniously and to appreciate the good in people, places, and situations that we encounter every day.
Wishing you health and peace of mind.
“Being a father, being a friend, those are the things that make me feel successful.” – William Hurt