Firstly, Selamat Hari Raya Adil Fitri to all our Muslim friends. Trust that the long weekend was joyous and blessed.
The children were busy. They were taking turns to be “packed” into a cardboard box that would be sent to a destination of their choice. “Home” was the most popular destination and they had imagined themselves jumping out of the box to surprise mommy when she opened it. As their mothers laid out the food and got ready to break their fast, these 7 children kept themselves entertained with an empty box that originally contained tiered tiffin carriers we had brought as a Mother’s Day gift.
Last Saturday evening, we experienced the warm and generous hospitality of these neighbours as we joined them for a breaking of fast meal done in potluck fashion at a void deck. We had our fill of chicken curry, vegetable patties, bread, and sticky rice with serunding which is spiced shredded coconut. However, it was not just the food that was gratifying. We were nourished by the bonds of trust and cooperation that pervaded as kindness, care, and concern. It would have been difficult for an onlooker to identify who was the mother of each child as the children seemed most comfortable with everyone. They went from mother to mother for a little affirmation and they responded to all who called out to them. The onlooker would probably conclude that this was one large extended family.
Community is not just a group of people categorised by where they live, a similar background or even their shared challenges and aspirations. Those who were present at the breaking of fast meal would have ticked all these boxes. They were a community because each of them intentionally showed up to create a shared experience that was mutually rewarding for all. They were clear that these relationships mattered, and they were intentional how they were a positive presence for each other.
These mothers recognised that belonging to a community is not just about being registered on a database, but it was a commitment to nurturing relationships with others. Hence, each of them spontaneously agreed to reach out to 5 other mothers to give them the Mother’s Day gift we had brought over. It reminded us that we are only members of a community when we are giving and receiving support and constantly learning how to better care about our relationships.
For peace, community, and mothers,
If a community values its children, it must cherish its mothers. – John Bowlby.