Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: When Cultural Barriers Separate Us
By Agatha Mangwende
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It was the sound of sirens wailing down our road that raised us up from our slumber. As the sirens came nearer and nearer, we soon realised that they were actually coming to our block of apartments.
“What is going on”, Tina asked. I had no idea; so we both got up and peeped through the window. A fire engine and a paramedics ambulance had pulled up right at the apartment next door to us. I quickly grabbed Tina’s arm and pulled her towards the door, as I said, “let us go and find out”. “No”, replied Tina, “things don’t operate that way in this neighbourhood”. I said, “Why, are we not neighbours? Should we just sit here quietly and watch from the windows?”
I was really concerned about my neighbours. In the three months that I had lived in our apartment, I had seen them a couple of times, but had never exchanged a conversation of more than the casual good morning, afternoon or whatever! Again I had been advised against being friendly with the neighbours; it would not be safe.
I knew that I was living in a multicultural and multi-racial neighbourhood, but surely was this a good enough (bad in this case) reason to live like recluses when we could be exchanging our diverse wealth of wisdom and culture?
So when the ambulance and fire engine came that evening, I really wanted to go out and see if someone in the family had fallen sick or had been injured. To just stand there and watch from the window was very frustrating and not according to the biblical principle of what a neighbour was supposed to be. For me, being a neighbour meant loving, caring and inquiring about the welfare of others.
Back in Africa where I come from, neighbours get into each other’s business. Neighbours look out for each other’s families, neighbours watch each other’s houses as a security system. We do more than exchange a casual greeting; we ask for details on who is doing what and where. And when there is a crisis or incident, we all run towards that house/apartment and offer whatever assistance we can.
With all this background behind me and the Christ-love we should be sharing amongst each other, I was at a loss as to how I could successfully initiate an attitude of caring in my neighbourhood, without seemingly becoming nosey.
I have resolved to myself what I ought to do. I will just have to start small. On Mother’s day, I anonymously placed a rose flower at the door of my three neighbours. And I am now paying more attention to the neighbouring young couple with their little boy as they pass by our front porch. Maybe at some point, God will give me this young couple to mentor and a grandchild to babysit. This is a long way from influencing traditions with loving and godliness, but it is a start.
And who is my neighbour? Luke 10:29
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