Another Week Beyond – 2302

Dear friends, 

“I was so worried when I could not reach her. Her phone battery was dead and so I went downstairs to see if I could find her. I was so relieved when I met her and learnt that she had been knocking on the doors of her neighbors and getting them to leave their homes,” recounted Hafizah who was trying to contact a friend when she noticed the fire from her home in the opposite block. 

The fire in the neighbourhood that happened a month ago on 8 December was still fresh on the minds of everyone when we checked-in with 7 neighbors for a beginning of the year conversation. They were saddened by the tragic death of a young fire-fighter and recalled the fear and anxiety they shared with so many others that day.

The fire also seemed to have reinforced their sense of belonging to the neighourhood, their commitment toward their families and the notion of mutual help. When reflecting on their highlight for 2022, everyone related something that was family related. A mother highlighted her son passing his N levels and being able to continue his education while the rest mentioned happy family occasions such as a family barbeque by the beach, a weekend trip to Malaysia and a visit to Universal Studios Singapore.

As to what they hoped for in the year ahead, generally everyone had kind thoughts for their neighbours and their community. No more fires was a unanimous response but so was health for all and cooperation and unity among neighbours.

Harsheni, an intern who was attending such a conversation for the first time was surprised that apart from a grandmother who hoped that her grandchildren would not skip school, everyone else focused on the need for stronger mutual help. When we debriefed the conversation with her, she reckoned that mutuality was the essence of community life. Even the grandmother had added that she hoped neighbours offered concrete practical assistance and not just lip service. In a way, this comment indicated the importance of community support for the wellbeing of her family and her. 

Nonetheless, Harsheni was moved that at the end of the conversation, members celebrated when one of the participants informed that she will be moving out of the neighbourhood soon. Everyone was really happy that this person had purchased a flat of her own and assured her that she will always be welcome at activities in the neighbourhood and to even join them in organising them if she could afford the time.

On reflection, Harsheni concluded that she had witnessed how people’s lives are bound together in a community. It felt like one person’s success is the success of everyone and the opposite is also true. Perhaps, this also meant that whenever someone succeeds, the hope that the rest can do the same comes alive.

For peace and community,

Gerard

Whatever affects one directly, affects all of us indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. – Martin Luther King

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