Community, a place to care and grow (Another Week Beyond – 2424)

By Grace Yew, Community Worker

“Pergi, jom” (Let’s go!). We go back to office with you to help you carry all these. You one person, how to carry all alone?” Fauziah insisted as she walked to the side of the lorry, ready to jump onto the passenger’s seat. Her husband who had helped her to hoist two huge tables and fifteen stools onto the lorry followed. 

I laughed in disbelief.  

It was 6 pm and Fauziah, had been out since ten in the morning, supporting 15 children to set up a community gathering below their flats that boasted carnival-style games and home-cooked food. “Sarang Raya” or a “hive of activity” was the brainchild of 15 children who wanted to organise an event for neighbours to enjoy the day as friends. This was a brave leadership endeavour from the children, but they bit off a little more than they could chew. So, Fauziah rallied some parents to help in support of the children’s success.  

It was dinner time and we just got through four and a half hours hosting over 80 people helping themselves to food and having a go at the game booths manned by the children. I stared at her bewildered yet touched, before loudly protesting, “No, my colleague is at the office, he can help me. Can one, don’t worry. I don’t want you to travel all the way back here again from Tiong Bahru! That’s crazy.”  

After many rounds of assuring her that there was help at the office, I drove back alone. 

On my way to the office, I could not help smiling as I thought about Fauziah’s sense of responsibility. Although she gets a stipend for her efforts as a community enabler, I am convinced that it is not the money but the care and pride she holds for her neighbourhood that drives her. The money is of course useful for a household with little resources, but it is not enough to be considered a salary.    

As a community enabler, Fauziah must engage her neighbours.  I remember how nervous she was when she first began knocking on their doors. But during the event, it was clear that she was effective. So much so that she surprised herself, “Whoa, this neighbour always so hard to see! I never expected her to come down to the event… and with her kids some more! This other Chinese man also! We hardly see them you know. I can’t believe they came because I asked. Wow!” 

In community work, we journey with people to nurture their capabilities and a culture of care in their neighbourhood.   I treasure moments of seeing these aspects in the people I encounter. What a privilege it was to see Fauziah recognising the impact of her work and extending the care she had for children and neighbours to me.  

“Caring is the bridge that connects us to one another.” – Thich Nhat Hanh 

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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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Read more >

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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 >