The grand-uncle of   2 children aged 11 and 9 years old immediately took them into his home when he realised that their mother had much difficulty caring for them.  “I will definitely have strong words for her when we meet the next time  but for now, the children’s well-being come first”  he told us.  Mother spends most of her time with 3 younger children and these 2 children often have too much time on their own.  The tough talking aside, this grand uncle shared that he has no hesitation helping out because the children’s mother had housed him many years ago when he was homeless. Today, it appears that he is experiencing more stability than his niece and so he believes it is only right to return the kindness. In any case, they are family and he values their relationship.


Such support among relatives may not be as consistent as that provided by helping professionals but it has the advantage of bringing about mutual help and the strengthening of loose ties among people. When the dust settles, it will be obvious to mother that her uncle cares and she should find a way to show her appreciation. Such a relationship is rooted in the values and traditions of family  and community and  social work must find a way of actively supporting these values and traditions. This is hard work and it seems easier to declare that family and community are inadequate and professional helping systems need to step in for children and other vulnerable people. So going forward, what could a vision for social work look like? Is it one where the work leads to strong families and communities or one of massive professional helping systems whose growth is spurred by the ever-increasing complexity of inadequate families and communities?  Perhaps in the social service sector, growth is not necessarily good news and less is more.


The positive emotions and experiences from last  Friday’s Celebration in the Community still linger with me. Several young people between 20 to 25 years old came up to me and other colleagues simply to say hello. They had previously attended our programmes and while some got into trouble with the law after they left us, they are now feeling rather positive about themselves. One young man told me it was good to see us being there for others in his neighbourhood and he will arrange a gathering of all the “old boys” for old times’ sake and to see how they could volunteer.  It will be some time before that gathering happens as many are in National Service but some of these old boys who are not, started volunteering this week. They were most energetic as together with other residents and some volunteers from various corporations, they efficiently repacked 526 cartons of food into packets and distributed them to the households in their neighbourhood. These food packets were donations from the public to the Sharity Gift Box last Christmas.


This annual food distribution exercise across 5 neighbourhoods ends tomorrow and it is usually quite messy and exhausting but somehow, it feels like a breeze this year.  It is a breeze because it does not feel like work but rather like a gathering of friends doing the right thing for our neighbours. Jean Louis Lamboray who was present at the celebration shared that the event reminded him of the Congolese  proverb "When people celebrate, some serious matter is being handled."  I can see how that’s true.


Enjoy your weekend.


Share our similarities, celebrate our differences. - M. Scott Peck

Views: 75


You need to be a member of Community life competence to add comments!

Join Community life competence

Comment by Phil on March 12, 2012 at 4:05pm


I have made a small change to a sentence that you wrote in your comment to Olivia.

I think I will carry it around with me for a long time, perhaps for ever:

'Life becomes a lot easier when I can admit to myself that I can screw up big time too.'

Many thanks


Comment by Gerard Ee Huck LIan on March 5, 2012 at 8:53am

Although not always ideal, humans have always been nurtured in families and communities. No matter how well intentioned, all interventions to care for children or other vulnerable family members are artificial arrangements that run the risk of replacing or competing with the natural family and community. For me, caring means supporting families and communities to care for their members as anything else would in sense be going against nature. So the challenge is appreciating the less than ideal situations within families and communities and finding ways to improve the situation in partnership with them.   This tends to be easier if we are able to admit to ourselves that we can screw up big time too.

I agree that it is at times difficult to appreciate our own families and just as we find it easier to appreciate the families of others, it would be helpful to have close friends who can share how they appreciate our families. Seems to work for me J. Thanks Olivia for your interest and warm support.

Comment by Olivia Munoru on March 2, 2012 at 5:30pm

Gerard... another great blog. I am really learning alot from these experiences you share. You got me thinking about family. My experience is that family is sometimes the hardest place in which to practise SALT. We can be good at appreciating the strengths of our more distant families (community, neighbours, colleagues etc) but our close blood relatives - this can be so challenging.

At the same time, its such an important place to focus our energies as practitioners of SALT. Our families are always there... we love them unconditionally (even if we don't always show it) and we are forever invested in their happiness (even if we don't always act on it). For me, this is one of the greatest strengths of family - the unconditional love that bonds us throughout life.

If the social services sector can stimulate families and communities to build on this great strength, imagine the scope of support that could be achieved for young people facing difficulties. Like the situation with the 11 an 9 year old, it is Kinship which can be leveraged to provide the necessary support, rather than an outside interventions. 

Therefore I love your question - "Perhaps... less is more....". 

Keep blogging. You are inspiring me and helping me to reflect on so many useful things!


The Constellation: who are we

The Constellation vidéo, where we journey in less then 2 minutes from space, through nature, to villages, in homes and back while exploring what the Constellation stands for. Thank YOU for being part of it. 

Social Media


Newsletter EnglishFrench Spanish  


Twitter @TheConstellati1

Instagram: constellationclcp

Youtube channel: The Constellation SALT-CLCP

© 2020   Created by Rituu B. Nanda.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service