A group of 15 adults and elderly living in one low-income community shared a commom concern i.e insufficient income and food for their families. We facilitated a gathering to discuss how we can address our concerns and how together we can offer support to one another.
I went with 2 other colleagues and Dr. Jean-Louis Lamboray, who was in Singapore for a visit.
I started the discussion by thanking everyone for making time to come for the discussion and I commented that despite our common concerns, I am hopeful, collectively, as a group, that we have some resources already available among us in the room and we are capable of offering support to one another.
I continued by inviting anyone among the group to share his/her concerns. Everyone spoke about his/her difficulties in getting a decent paying job in order to support the family sufficiently.
The discussion went on for about 1.5 hours and people were still talking about their concern. I was getting rather nervous - wondering how I was to stimulate the discussion where people in the room can also recognise that they have some resources within and among them. After everyone spoke, I said: "Yes, we all have common concerns and we are all trying to seek solution to the problem. I also belief that each one of us in this room possesses some skills or strengths and if all of us can identify this one skill or strengths, collectively, we have a lot at our disposal".
I then invited each one to share his/her skills. This changed the mood in the room! People forgot about their concerns for that little while, instead, they started showing or expressing concern for one another. There was one elderly couple who said they depended on donated food from Monday-Friday and they do not have any income. One man in the group showed great concern towards this couple when he asked : " What happened on Saturday and Sunday?" To this question, the elderly woman thanked one of the ladies in the room for having kept an eye on them all these years. The others responded by offering to deliver food to their house. Some young mothers started exchanging contact so they can be of support to one another. Another lady shared how she started going to the Internet to look for jobs and not just wait for government agencies to help; another elderly man shed tears of gratefulness ( he said he is so grateful he didn't have to worry about food or bills cos his children are supporting him) and said he will continue to support the community till his last breath. And this genuine concern for ONE ANOTHER instead of their own problems went on...
I was pleased that the meeting ended with more hopes, despite our common concerns still very much present. While we were having our AAR, some were still talking and we invited them to join us in our AAR. I went home feeling grateful that people do genuinely care for one another. What is needed is an opportunity for stimulating discussion where people can appreciate their strengths and one another, listen to one another and link people to resources they know of and for me to transfer some leanings to my own lfe/work context :))