Another Week Beyond 2425 – Do you see me? Do you hear me?

by Nina, Community Relations

Do you see me? Do you hear me?

Last Saturday, we held a Learning Journey for members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). This is an immersive journey we offer to interested parties who are keen to understand how   communities in public rental housing live, work and play. Our 19 YPO guests were led on a Community Walkabout by 11 Community Guides – each a resident of Lengkok Bahru of varying ages. Their task was to lead our visitors through shared spaces in the neighborhood, while revealing the purpose and character of each area visited.

After the tour, the group gathered for a debrief.

Our guests spoke of their admiration for the tight-knit community, expressing how heartening it was to hear how neighbours looked out for one another with genuine care and affection. They all felt a strong sense of pride, unity and mutual respect that seemed to bind this community together.

A 10-year-old boy, the son of a YPO member, was invited to share his reflections. He shyly, and humbly, summed up his experience as “a fun afternoon of meeting new people.”

But another guest had something to say about this boy. She said she noticed that while the adults in the group were chatting, the boy approached an elderly woman pushing an empty shopping trolley. The woman looked a little distressed. The boy picked up on this and asked her if she was okay.

The elderly woman explained that she had filled her trolley with discounted food items, saving a small fortune on a month’s worth of groceries. However, she then realized she had forgotten her shopping vouchers, so she had to leave everything behind and walk home empty-handed. The boy listened intently and asked if there was anything he could do. The elderly woman smiled, patted him on his back and said, “Thank you, boy. Don’t worry, aunty will be okay.”

The guest shared that, “Even though this young man couldn’t help her, he managed to put a smile on her face. I was very moved and inspired by how someone so young was so observant and sensitive to the plight of the elderly aunty that the rest of us overlooked.”

The room filled with cheers and applause for the boy and his act of unconditional kindness.

This convivial atmosphere of sharing also encouraged one of our youth guides to speak up. Our staff who knew this youth volunteer well, were pleasantly surprised. They knew him to be the “Class Clown” who usually spoke only to crack a joke. But as the group listened intently, he told them about himself and shared stories from his neighbourhood. He said, “I almost didn’t show up today. I was too tired from my work shift, but I’m very glad I came. Honestly, I was stunned that people I just met wanted to hear about my dreams and aspirations. I never thought people outside of my community would care about what I have to say. I would love to volunteer again if there’s another session.”

In one afternoon, everyone present was reminded of the importance of providing opportunities for all voices in society to be heard. How by taking the trouble to see those we often do not give a second thought to, by listening with heart to what they have to say, and by acknowledging them as fellow human beings, we can make people feel valued, like they mattered.

As the afternoon ended, the guides were presented with baked goods as a “Thank You” from our YPO guests. Yet, everyone present left with a far more valuable gift – a reminder to take the time and trouble to make a real connection with everyone you encounter, no matter what their station in life is.

“Everybody matters. Everyone just wants to be heard.” – Oprah Winfrey

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Read more >

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