Another Week Beyond – 2307

Dear friend,

As a community development agency in the service of people’s efforts to meet their needs, a colleague was heartened when he found himself doing janitorial duties in a roomful of adults and their children. 12 adults and 15 children packed a students’ care centre we had borrowed for a conversation to launch a neighbourhood hotline for neighbours to support each other with their health needs and challenges. Volunteers kept the children occupied with indoor games while their parents discussed the roles and responsibilities for a core group of neighbours to operate the hotline. With the food and the sound of laughter, it felt more like a party rather than a meeting to discuss an important community initiative.

Nonetheless, a productive conversation took place. As my colleague tidied up and ensured that everyone had seats and the necessary stationery was in place, he was impressed by how 2 residents led the discussion in 2 different languages simultaneously to ensure that everyone was on board. This was a picture of an empowered and competent community and if that meant that his role was to simply arrange for the venue, coordinate volunteers to engage the children and to basically provide logistical support, it was fine because we have succeeded in enabling a community to lead the change they wanted for themselves.

This was a significant moment worth celebrating but we need to acknowledge the ongoing efforts these past 2 years in holding a space for residents to agree that they can play an active role in addressing health issues in their community. Today these residents have organised themselves into a neighbourhood movement known as “Healthy You and Me” that has a website, alliances with health service providers and a helpline for neighbours to seek help. Sustainability of this movement is not via an organisation with a salaried staff, but the ongoing care and concern people have for each other.

Coincidentally, 2 days ago, a social worker from another organisation shared a profound thought with me. She said, “Organisations are designed to solve problems, but movements and communities emerge because people care for each other.” As I thought about what she said, the idea that care is a more sustainable resource than funds did not seem far-fetched.

Anyway, “Healthy You & Me” has developed a philosophy how to nurture and sustain care. “Our purpose is improving our health, but we cannot just be having serious talks all the time. Whenever we come together, we must have some fun and experience each other’s care for each other. This is how we strengthen our shared purpose,” was a statement articulated during their conversation which had everyone agreeing.

Finally, as our colleague listened to the conversation, it occurred to him that we could better acknowledge the commitment of those who were present. Everyone who came had multiple work and caregiving responsibilities but yet they all showed up as promised. There was a mother he was not expecting as she had cut her finger preparing her family meal just before, but she arrived early, in fresh clothes and with her wound neatly bandaged. Then everyone present had their “Healthy You & Me” lanyards around their necks. He thought to himself, this is not an observation about trivial details, but details that indicated belonging, commitment and purpose.

For peace, community, and health,

Gerard

 “Strong people don’t need strong leaders. Give light and people will find their way.” – Ella Baker

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PAST AWB POSTS

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By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

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by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

Read more >