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Proudly Supporting

Do You Know Your Neighbour's Name?

By Yvette Vignando - 17th April 2012

This morning I was type-talking on Skype with a friend in Austria. Mr 10 joined in and we were joking around about names. Mr 10 and I offered our Austrian friend ‘a million points’ if she could guess the middle name of one of our neighbours.  Actually I don’t know our neighbours’ names – we’ve said hello a couple of times and then I promptly forgot their names. This is ridiculous. They are our neighbours, and they have young children.

We lived in a cul de sac in Sydney’s north western suburbs when I was in high school.  Sure, we didn’t know the names of all the neighbours, but we knew a good number of them. When my children were babies, I got to know our neighbours quickly, simply because they were a similar age, with children of a similar age, and we met at Playgroup, at preschool, and in the nappy aisle at the supermarket. I guess life was moving a little more slowly then: long visits to the park, cups of tea while toddlers played and watching children play outside in the front garden.

But now – we have two teenagers and a primary school child - and somehow we’ve neglected that most important aspect of a community – neighbourliness (if that is not a word, it should be).

Scanning the news this morning I came across a very sad article about a 36 year old single mum who suddenly died during an epileptic seizure in Wagga Wagga, leaving her two year old daughter alone in the house. Miraculously, the two year old survived for about five days until a church pastor decided to check on the small family and found the daughter near to death herself. Imagining this toddler’s experience is unbearably sad.  In the article I read, one of the neighbours is quoted as saying "It was just awful …The washing was still on the line and I kept telling myself I must go over and see whether Liz was okay? You just feel so guilty, I know you shouldn't blame yourself but you do." That poor neighbour – totally not her responsibility and I can only imagine how stressful this outcome would have been to anyone living in the vicinity.

Sometimes life throws you a clue to make a change. For me, there was the joke this morning on Skype and the news article I just read. My change: I am going to make two chocolate cakes this week and deliver them to our two neighbours (both of whom have school aged children) – it’s a long overdue gesture to get connected.

How about you? Can I throw out a challenge to you? If you decide to get connected with your neighbours this week, will you share your story with me? I promise to share mine. I’ll use this chocolate cake recipe because it’s a firm favourite here – it’s quick and enough for two neighbourly cakes.

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