Connecting local responses around the world
A learning festival serves as a platform for the exchange of good practices. 8 mothers and 3 youth from Singapore who are in Bandung this week were surprised that their experiences and reflections were valued by participants from other parts of the world. They may not always be able to explain their efforts with a philosophical or practice framework but that did not prevent them from inspiring others.
Khidir, a youth leader was listening to a sharing about the role of a local support team in a community. He was intrigued and sensed that he has been a supportive presence in his neighbourhood. He then decided to share his efforts to verify if he has been on the right track. He told a roomful of people that he believed in the importance of simply being available and approachable; which in his definition, often means being able to approach others. To be available, he sits at his neighourhood’s coffee shop taking a quiet interest in those who come by. Familiar faces stop for a chat and when he is feeling brave, he introduces himself to unfamiliar faces. The small talk over coffee often led to people talking about big issues in their lives.
Once, someone confided in him about his substance use. He was surprised to be trusted with such information, but he soon learnt about the impact of substance dependency on the individual and the people around him. That talk got him realising how important but at the same time difficult it is to put oneself in the shoes of others. Understanding is impossible if we have strong views or an aversion about people’s habits or situations. Hence, he figured that if he made it a point to always speak nicely to people, it improves his ability to hear what people are saying to him.
Khidir is 19 and is deeply grateful for the opportunity to earn his keep as a camp instructor and occasionally, he buys a meal at the coffeeshop for those down on their luck. However, he reckons that while people need to eat, it is perhaps as important that they feel cared for and supported by those around them.
Getting things right inspires but so does the humble understanding and acknowledgement when things are not going well. During a reflection session, Aida, a mother from the Ghim Moh rental flat neighbourhood, shared how a discussion on the importance of appreciating strengths in the community was a wake-up call for her. She realised that she had been pressuring other mums in her group to work toward her targets, without realising the importance of a collective dream. She had just assumed that her vision was right and got frustrated when others did not move in that direction. She concluded that they were not as motivated or committed as her, but she now realises that she had not asked them about their dreams or told them how much she appreciated their efforts and abilities in improving life in their neighbourhood.
A Learning Festival is a gathering in the spirit of sharing and mutual learning. People enjoy learning from the experiences of others, they enjoy sharing their own experiences with others and they enjoy seeing what new possibilities can arise from these experiences. It is also an opportunity to document the experiences that people bring to the event and their stories add to a repository of knowledge and wisdom. We are proud that our members are contributing to this treasure chest and you may want to check out other stories here https://www.facebook.com/constellationclcp/
Sustainability is about how strong your social capital is, how good your relationship with other people is. Deep connections are formed when we relate to each other as whole people - accepting vulnerabilities and weaknesses along with strengths. We all make mistakes, but what makes a difference is the ability to laugh at our mistakes and move forward. – Sohail Bawani, public health worker, Aga Khan University, Pakistan.