Another Week Beyond – 2105

Beyond Another Week Beyond, Community, community spirit, Volunteers

Dear Friends

I was listening to 3 residents as they expressed the sort of improvements they would like for their homes and their neighbourhod.  They wanted a drop-off point near their blocks that would shelter them from heavy rain and more living space. One wanted to move into a flat with a bedroom so that life could be a little more comfortable for his wife and 4 children, but he made it clear that he did not want to leave the neighbourhood. He explained that he has been a resident for 26 years and he feels a strong connection to the place.  Currently, he is working as a cleaner in the evenings and spends the day caring for his family and his neighbours.  He is open to taking on odd jobs in the day, but he shares that the satisfaction he derives from caring for family and friends, is not something he wants to give up altogether.

The other 2 who were listening nodded and seemed to resonate with what he was saying. Together, they have been attending to the needs of their neighbours voluntarily for many years despite their personal challenges. The mutual help and camaraderie among residents that they have facilitated is a source of pride.  Though they may need assistance from the government and the community every now and then, their contribution as volunteers means that they are givers and not just takers.  In reality, all of us have benefitted from the goodwill of others as well as government resources. As such, contributing to the common good would be the right thing to do.

Reasonable accommodation is critical for our well-being and we are often humbled by how our members make the best of their situation. Currently, we are engaging 11 children aged 5 to 11 years old in a “Photo Voice” activity over 6 weeks to hear how they make sense of their circumstances. After 2 weeks, what has come across is their love for the neighbourhood.  Their photographs captured their favourite spots and when they framed themselves into the scene, a hint of why they were so was revealed.

What was hinted in the photographs was made explicit when they drew a map of their neigbourhood and expounded what each place meant to them.  Not sure if this was tongue-in-cheek but one said that he loved the market simply because he loved food.  Mostly though, their favourite places reminded them of the happiest times they have had. The football court was the unanimous choice followed by an open area where most remembered meeting each other for the first time.   Unbashful and with a smile, a young girl pointed out 2 locations precisely; one where she met her boyfriend and the other where she first held his hand.

I visited 3 neighbourhoods this week and had a word with both the young and the old. The experiences got me thinking that in my work, people make memories not places.

Wishing you the best of health and peace of mind,

Sincerely,

Gerard

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. – Ernest Hemmingway