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 ourselves, appreciate simple friendly gestures, being treated with kindness that will better our lives. It requires us to reimagine our daily interactions and how we care for one another.
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 took the first step to reach out to their neighbours. 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.
Some travel by bus to work. Others travel by car. Me? I travel by lorry. My day begins at 4.30am at the crack of dawn. Like everyone else in the dormitory, I get in line and wait for my turn to shower. A quick breakfast follows. After this, the waiting begins. In the still darkness, we wait by the roadside for the lorry to pick us up. We wait again at the next destination to pick up another batch of workers. The actual journey to the construction site is not too long, but the wait is. On the lorry, there are two blessed spots, the seats beside the driver. Where two people get to sit comfortably and enjoy the air-conditioning. Others, including me, are not as lucky. Like a can of sardines, we are squeezed together at the back of the lorry where it is always hot and stuffy. The other workers, regardless of nationality or race, become my comrades-in-arms. When it rains, we huddle closely and shield each other from getting drenched. Sometimes, we sit on one another. In times like this, the smell of our work boots and our sweat become one, making breathing almost toxic. We even risk our lives together. When the lorry brakes unexpectedly, most of us have nothing to hold on to. Once, a comrade got injured and we could only watch in dismay. Finally, the rumbling of the engine stops. And we wait again. 8.00am. Work is about to begin. This is my every day. I accept it because the livelihood of my family back home depends on me. Still, I hope that one day, I will get to travel to work like you.