Sue, 56 years old moved into a new neighbourhood 7 months ago and about a month later, she sent a message to our Facebook page requesting educational support for her 13-year-old granddaughter for whom she has legal guardianship. She asked for a colleague who had spoken to her when she was living elsewhere, and we updated her that this colleague was no longer with the organisation. Nonetheless, we said that we are very happy to have reconnected and looked forward to continuing the friendship.
Today, Sue appears to have settled in her new neighbourhood and we are in discussion with her about manning a booth at an upcoming community event called Designing the Good Life jointly hosted by Bold at Work and ourselves next week. Currently, despite undergoing chemotherapy and being afflicted by diabetes and hypertension, she gets on with her caregiving responsibilities cheerfully and diligently. She is also an avid crochet crafter churning out products for sale to supplement the family income.
Sue is losing her teeth and jokes that she still wants to eat her favourite food as she requested for a pair of dentures. Her positive demeanour is impressive, but she tells us it was not always so. 4 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was despondent. It was her online crochet crafter community that insisted she continue with her craft. One from New Zealand and another from Johor Bahru would check in on her health as they continued to exchange designs and techniques. Sue has never met any of her fellow crafters in person but would now count them as her closest friends. When she learnt that a flood in Johor Bahru had damaged the yarn in her friend’s home, she bundled some of what she had and mailed them over.
Community is where one can give and receive support and Sue declares with much gratitude that her friendships and care-giving responsibilities have made life worth living. She adheres to her doctor’s advice and attends to her medical appointments dutifully but feels that it is the care and mutuality she experiences in the community that give her life. Whether it is her online community of interest or her neighbourhood’s community of place, her friendships keep her happy and healthy.
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. Access to healthcare, economic stability, education, neighbourhood, and social and community life are 5 broad categories that encompass these factors. As we lead a community development process in low-income neighbourhoods, we are well placed to address these factors. As poor health impedes progress and quality of life, we are proud to be part of the Movements For Health initiative led by the Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation.
For peace and community,
Why treat people and send them back to the conditions that made them sick? – Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology