Together with some neighbours, Marlina leads a community health initiative in their neighbourhood called Healthy You & Me. They are constantly reaching out to their neighbours with information on affordable healthcare services and inviting them to activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. In their conversations, they also convey that good health is not attained at clinics or hospitals but comes about from what one does to stay healthy. In the process, they hear for themselves what really matters to people.
2 months ago, Marlina told us that she had 2 ideas that would be helpful for her neighbours. One was to invite homemakers or older people to care for pre-school children unable to attend childcare because they were ill. Often when a child was ill, parents had to take the day off from work and for wage workers, this meant no income. In any case, many feared that missing work would not make them look good at the workplace and this caused much stress.
The other idea she had was a community fridge that provided milk and frozen food because food insecurity was another major stressor, she had identified from her outreach efforts. Caregivers often told her that activities offered in the community were not a priority when they worried if their family had enough to eat.
Rallying residents to care for children who are ill was a great idea but after discussions, Marlina concluded that it would be best to give it more thought. However, the community fridge seemed like something she could pull off quickly and she did.
After providing her with the fridge and freezer, Marlina organised a process for children to pick up a packet of milk on their way to school in the morning. They write their name on a whiteboard hung on the side of the fridge and this helps Marlina monitor stock and demand. For caregivers picking up a packet of frozen food and some dry rations, they must commit to attending an activity in the community that supports their wellbeing or organising one for the Healthy You and Me event calendar. This is Marlina’s way of communicating to her neighbours that both food and health are linked, and both should be priority.
As our work is embedded in low-income neighbourhoods, we contribute to the Healthy Precinct Framework by the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation. We facilitate health and social services, education and health literacy, access to healthy food, community safety and our biggest contribution is the nurturance of an involved, engaged, and vibrant community. Marlina and her friends at Healthy You & Me engage deeply within their neighbourhood and find ways to reach the hard to reach.
For peace, community, and food on the table,
Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. – Hippocrates