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.
I want my children to say that proudly. I see it in their eyes. I see it in their eagerness to learn more. I know they can be future leaders. I know they can change things in this country. I co-founded Buku Jalanan Chow Kit for these children. I want them to think about a life beyond Chow Kit. When people think about Chow Kit, they have a negative image of it. Because of this, I was really nervous on my first visit! I really didn’t know what to expect. But the children of Chow Kit are different. They are not afraid of strangers at all. When you teach them simple things like counting, or how to play a game, their faces light up with eagerness. It shows in the way they call me ‘Cikgu Ayu’. It shows when mothers bring their children down while it’s raining. To me, charity is about being with people, and acknowledging their existence. Memanusiakan manusia. I always tell my kids, “Let’s learn and grow together. Let’s change things.” I believe in them.