Sometimes “community” can seem like a big word, but building it starts with the smallest of actions.
“If you talk about community within the neighbourhood. We may not have a strong one. Because yet we cant blame anyone, because that is what life is like in the city. Time is all committed to work. Even when we enter the lift, we stand next to each other be we are just staring at our phones. Sometimes, all it takes is to just look up and smile – the day already starts better. But it takes two to build relationships. We have to let others know that they can count on us if they ever need help. Knowing that others think of you and look out for you will really give you that sense of belonging. It’s the first step to building a community.”
“I’ve been living here here for about 2 years. For a long time, I had no idea who my neighbours were. It was just like going to a hotel – just checking in and checking out every day. But after you meet face to face, things feel different. It’s as if we already know each other so much more. It finally started to feel like I had neighbours and that I was’t alone after all.”
“Most people nowadays like privacy. We live in high-rise buildings just a door away from each other but we prefer to just be left alone. I think we forget that at the end of the day, the thing that builds the neighbourhood is the people.”
In this increasingly fast-paced society it is easy to forget that we are surrounded by people, who like us, appreciate simple friendly gestures, being treated with kindness that will better our daily lives. Building relationships goes a long way, and for the residents of Boulevard Residence, it is a necessary step for the creation of a sense of belonging among themselves. With a small effort from each of the residents, they came together to begin a community, to make their homes a better place to live in, and ultimately, to care for the people who are in the closest physical proximity to them in their everyday lives.
My dad would always say that, thinking I’d outgrow it when I entered NS. Instead, I embraced my gender identity and went for sexual reassignment surgery. I still remember my mum exclaiming, “What will the neighbours say?” But when she saw me lying weakly in bed, she also said, “So what kind of porridge should I make to help your wounds heal faster?” My mum didn’t know it then, but I had never felt so loved. Growing up as a post-operation transgender woman in Singapore, I’ve met my fair share of discrimination from society. My parents could have chosen to hate me. Instead, they chose to love me. Their love for me, their daughter, regardless of my gender identity, taught me to look at the bright side of humanity. I started a shelter for my transgender community because I want them to experience the love I get from my parents. Many transgender individuals have been forsaken by their families and are homeless now. I want them to stand as who they are, happy and proud. Just like me.