Another Week Beyond – 2410

Children roaming the neighbourhood on their own was a concern identified by 2 Community Fellows in October last year. They had observed that some children were unkempt and still in their school uniform at a time when most children would have had their dinner and preparing for bed. These fellows were worried for the children, and they found themselves questioning if their parents cared. They also looked for programmes in the community which they could refer the children to and thought that if there were none suitable, they would create one.

During the school holidays last year, they reached out to the children who in turn led them to their parents. After many conversations and building a relationship as neighbours, these Fellows have reframed their perspective of the situation. They tell us that they no longer view the situation as one of neglected children and neglectful parents, “Children need to play and be out in the open especially when their homes are crowded.” They added, “What we need to do is to ensure that the neighbourhood is a safe and caring place for them.”

So, they knocked on doors to invite their neighbours to join them in co-creating a safe neighbourhood for children and 8 people have told them that they would like to be part of the endeavour. They informed us that they will start having further discussions with these people and they insisted that “no Beyond staff” should be present because we will “hijack” the conversation.

My colleague whom they were talking too as a little taken aback. She had spent a fair amount of time training how to facilitate conversations and so she asked, “Do you have the skills to manage the conversation and who is going to take notes?” With a big smile, one of them responded, “What skills do I need to have? Just talk what! They talk, I listen, and I will ask more questions if I am curious. I talk to my neighbours more than you lah!” With regards to note taking, the other added, “Aiyah, easy what. We ask their permission to record the conversation and we will share it with you or we will just tell you what we talked about when we finish.”

It has been 5 months since we conducted the first training session for our Community Fellows. Then, everyone expressed their fear of reaching out to their neighbours and their lack of skills in holding difficult conversations. For these 2 Fellows, that session seems like a distant memory and I believe their confidence results from a commitment to care for a neighbourhood that belongs to them. They are succeeding because this is a neighbourhood where they live, and where they are able to see the intangible cultural norms and the invisible web of relationships that create order, meaning and joy among its residents.

Our Community Fellowship programme enables people to create and be the change they want to see in their neighbourhoods. All of us have deficiencies and weaknesses but that does not mean we do not have skills, abilities, and resources to lead endeavours that improve our lives.


We look on with admiration as these 2 Fellows rally their neighbours to create a safe neighbourhood for its children.

For peace and community.

Gerard

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