Look­ing out for your neigh­bours

Upper Hutt Leader - - WHAT’S ON -

It’s easy to as­sume you don’t have to help some­one but it doesn’t take much to be a good neigh­bour and as­sist some­one in need, says

Last week a car broke down at the traf­fic lights a few cars ahead of me. Along with ev­ery other per­son stuck be­hind them, I drove around them and left them to it.

Maybe it’s just me (I hope not, oth­er­wise I ama ter­ri­ble per­son), but mankind of­ten as­sumes that some­one else will do some­thing about prob­lems. We can ap­pre­ci­ate that bad stuff hap­pens and some­times peo­ple need a hand up, but we of­ten treat it as so far re­moved from our­selves that it doesn’t oc­cur to us that we could – should – be the peo­ple do­ing the hand­ing up.

Fam­i­lies sleep­ing in cars in the mid­dle of win­ter; chil­dren go­ing to school with­out eat­ing break­fast or hav­ing lunch in their bags; char­i­ties col­lect­ing spare change; refugees flee­ing war-torn coun­tries – we all see there’s a prob­lem, but we ei­ther don’t know what we can do about it, or we as­sume some­one else will help.

The fact is, we have plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to reach out to our com­mu­ni­ties and of­fer a help­ing hand. (It pays to note here that ‘‘com­mu­nity’’ doesn’t have to be lim­ited to the peo­ple who live down the road from us; mankind is one large com­mu­nity too.)

There are fi­nan­cial meth­ods of sup­port­ing our fel­low hu­mans (like lo­cal char­i­ties that sup­port Kiwi chil­dren such as Kid­sCan and in­ter­na­tional aid agen­cies like World Vi­sion), but help doesn’t al­ways have to re­volve around dol­lars.

Ac­tions speak louder than words, and ac­tions have the power to speak louder than money too. We just need to open our eyes to recog­nise when a need is stand­ing right in front of us. That old man who takes the same walk ev­ery day all by him­self? Per­haps he’s lonely and would ap­pre­ci­ate a friendly chat or a cup of tea. That­mumwith the scream­ing baby who’s try­ing to get her gro­ceries into the car while it’s pour­ing with rain? She could do with an ex­tra pair of hands.

It’s too easy to as­sume that some­one else will help some­one who needs a hand. But that’s not what makes great com­mu­ni­ties. What makes great com­mu­ni­ties is ac­tive mem­bers who re­ally care for each other and look out for any­one, with­out any ex­pec­ta­tion of any­thing in re­turn. Neigh­bourly is an es­sen­tial plat­form for com­mu­ni­ties to not only con­nect, but also be­come more aware of needs in their neigh­bour­hood.

I felt bad that I didn’t stop when that driver broke down in front of me, so I’ve been chal­leng­ing my­self to be more aware of the peo­ple around me. Just yes­ter­day as I was head­ing into the su­per­mar­ket, I heard a small cry for help com­ing from some­where in the cov­ered car park.

A lit­tle old lady had tripped over one of those con­crete bar­ri­ers that stop your car from go­ing too far for­ward. She wasn’t hurt, just a bit shocked, I ran over, checked that she hadn’t bro­ken any­thing, hoisted her back onto her feet, gath­ered up her shop­ping, and gave her a hug be­fore she went on her way. See? I’m learn­ing.

123RF

Ac­tions speak louder than words when it comes to help­ing oth­ers.

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