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.
My mother is Malay and my father is Chinese. What about me? That’s a question I’ve always asked myself. I grew up in a community where people are clearly categorised as Chinese, Malay, Indian or Eurasian. There is little room for others like me. I couldn’t speak the language, so I didn’t really fit into the ‘Malay’ category. And because of my hijab, I didn’t really fit into the ‘Chinese’ category either. But to my family, especially my Nai Nai (grandma), I am simply Sakinah. When I’m out with Nai Nai, she is the first to proudly introduce me “Wa eh sun (She’s my granddaughter)!” before her friends and neighbours mistook me for her maid. The fact that I celebrate both Hari Raya and Chinese New Year still causes raised eyebrows amongst my friends. Everyone wonders what I will be doing during these festivities. At times, I feel like a platypus of the human race, as if I am in No Man’s Land. I imagine a day when our children are no longer taught to recognise one another by categories like race or religion, but by who the person truly is.