As part of a CHE initiative, Alexander and I have been involved in multiple activities of our home town. This would be more of a family based CHE approach. We moved back to Canada in 2007 and our children joined the local school. That gave us plenty of opportunities to be part of the Home and school group, invite teachers and students to work on a vegetable garden and get to know more parents and teachers. Bibiana also was able to helped at the library when they had their book fairs. The idea of a farmers market had a weak response, but for 5 years we set it up every summer, using the fire hall first and then the old train station warehouse to host few tables and some tourists. Few members of the community joined bringing their produce or crafts and coming to have coffee and muffins. However, it was not sustainable, and this year we decided to close it. This is to show that not everything we planned has good results. However, it also gave us the chance to continue to meet more neighbours. The market soon showed that many people in town were interested in gardening, flowers and vegetables, hence we invited volunteers to join a Gardeners group. Through the years we contributed with the local school garden, decorated the town (13 planters, a big circle at the entrance of the town and the cenotaph by the Legion) and continue to meet regularly for planning, fellowship and learning. Sometimes we offer workshops to neighbours and the group has been very faithful in attendance, always willing to learn and share beauty.
I write on the monthly town publication about Development, (The Seagull), with the intention to pass on what I have learned in the field about community organization. Few years back, after realizing that Public Health no longer invests in face-to-face Peri-natal classes, we started a support group that meets at the YMCA in Sydney, the capital of our island, Cape Breton. We meet with pregnant women and their birth partners, and this has been well attended ever since its inception.
And what about the spiritual side of wholistic health and development? How are we sharing the gospel? Through friendship, acceptance and learning about the people first. We have a long way to go to see our town having a grassroots movement. There are lots of plans in economic development for our little touristic corner of Canada, (the fortress of Louisbourg just a stone’s throw away), but our voice is being heard: “There is much more to development than flourishing business, we want to see flourishing relationships, specially the one that change lives and makes us right with God”
We are in a journey with our neighbours, every little effort to see God in action among them is worth the time and effort.
Written by Regional Coordinator for South America & Caribbean, Bibiana Macleod