Another Week Beyond – 2304

Dear friends,

Hope you had many joyful moments with family and friends this Lunar New Year season. During a family circle discussion this week, we were reminded that family is also a commitment to care and friends are an important source of support.

After sharing how they spent their holidays, and exchanging festive greetings, Zoe shared that her husband had been in hospital for some weeks now and she had been caring for her children on a reduced family income. It was clearly a very difficult situation, but Zoe communicated her challenge in a matter-of-fact way. It appeared that to fulfil her duty as the family’s caregiver, she needed to remain strong, collected and committed.  

The other women were surprised by Zoe’s revelation, but they were sensitive enough to mirror her disposition. They sensed that Zoe wanted to be  acknowledged for her resolve and did not want any expression of sadness undermining it. So, they comforted her by praising her strength, and one participant declared “Zoe represents the power of mothers that will do whatever it takes for the good of their children.”

We were thinking that given her circumstances, Zoe must be allowed to cry but the participants showed us that friends do not dictate what is appropriate behaviour but to simply be present respectfully. That moment also reminded us that our primary role in these Family Circles is that of a meeting convenor who takes notes and provides logistical support. Those in the circle draw on their pooled resources, their combined social capital, and their collective wisdom to support each other. Occasionally, we draw their attention to available resources, but they decide if they want them. 

Toward the end of the meeting, someone shared that her social worker was curious what the Family Circle was about, and she replied, “We are a community, we share about each other’s life, we help each other. We share about how we cook, how we can survive our difficult lives.” She was proud when the social worker commented that the relationships within the circle seemed very strong.

Another then spontaneously added, “Outside I have no friends. Only my husband is my friend,” and immediately more affirmed the friendship they enjoyed. “Thanks to Family Circles, I am brave enough to make decisions. I mix around with other people, I know I don’t have to be isolated and alone in doing things,” was another response as well as “When I listen to other people and hear how they face the same struggles as me, I ask myself ‘If they can overcome it, why can’t I? Why am I so afraid?’ So, I really hope family circles will continue.”

The Chinese New Year is about family, friendship, and prosperity for all which are what these Family Circles aim to facilitate. We wish all our Family Circles a very successful Year of the Rabbit.

Gerard

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