My husband Ian and I grew up in South Africa. Although we have been blessed to live in Canada for most of our adult lives, it is difficult if not impossible to shed one’s accent or forget the influences of one’s formative years. In our case, it seems you can leave Africa, but Africa never leaves you. Mother Africa has a tenacious hold on her children!
We grew up with a motto – unity is strength. This is a simple and perhaps obvious statement. Unity in my mind’s eye is always represented by that strongest, and most comforting of shapes – a circle.
And it is perhaps the circular shape of a little pot that I kept as a child to hold pennies in that has always spoken to me.
When I think of that pot, I am struck by its legs – sturdy, strong legs. Settlers and missionaries from Europe brought their steel pots with them to Darkest Africa; those pots were designed to be suspended over a fire. They worked well until people started making long journeys and cooking over open fires. No place to suspend those pots any longer. The intrepid settlers changed the design and came up with this: a pot with 3 strong legs, equal in length, that can rest in the coals of the fire as it supports the pot with its bubbling contents. These legs support the humble endeavor of preparing food to nourish those who gather around the pot.
In our case, here in Oakville, our endeavor is not so humble. Our big hairy audacious goal of $60 million needs the support from several sources – provincial, municipal and the community.
Due to the untiring efforts of John Oliver and his team, we have the dreams of our endeavor - a new hospital that will provide care and comfort to so many - translated into actual drawings, models and now contracts. – They are truly architects of change in both the literal and metaphoric sense of the words. John’s team has also successfully negotiated through the maze of funding regulations and agreements. They have built 2 of the 3 sturdy strong legs – funding, both provincial and municipal, and the design and plans.
This is where the strength of unity applies – all 3 legs need to be strong and unified and work together to provide the support for our community hospital. We have two legs of our pot stable.
The third leg, the equipment for this hospital is to be provided by the community. Having lived in Oakville for almost 30 years, we know that this community will be the strong third leg and provide the support for the hospital. We are honoured to be part of that strength.
It is up to all of us to ensure that our pot does not wobble – it needs to be stable in order that it can support us all. The circular belly of the pot represents both the unity of our community and the support it offers those who will serve and be served in our beautiful new hospital. As the new hospital wraps us in its calming, healing environment it is beginning to fill motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia’s prescription and reasoning: Everybody needs a hug – it changes your metabolism.
We may all need the services of a hospital at some point in our lives – it is up to us as a community to ensure that we balance the legs of the pot and unite to support the cause that offers not only treatment, but hope and comfort to so many.
As Helen Keller said “ Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”