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Canvassing requires empathy and prayer

On any given day when persons prepare themselves to go out to canvass, they do the following:

• Collect their clipboards and walking lists for the specific areas that they will be canvassing

• Ensure that they have adequate voter registration forms

• Ensure that they have party handouts to leave with the persons to be visited

• Ensure that they have comfortable walking shoes

• Hold hands and have a prayer

Why a prayer you may ask?

The answer to that question is both simple and extremely complicated.

Along our journey of interacting with thousands of our fellow Bermudians, we are often, far too often, finding ourselves speaking with persons who are experiencing some of the most challenging times of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most common challenges that we hear from our fellow Bermudians is the plight of unemployment or underemployment.

It ranges from those who were recently made redundant because of downsizing, to those who have not had a steady job for many years. It is exceedingly hard to listen to someone explain how they have filled out hundreds of job applications without receiving so much as a reply from prospective employers.

Another issue that we find ourselves listening to is the anguish of parents speaking of how their children have packed their bags and left Bermuda to reside in Britain owing to lack of employment opportunities in their own country.

What seemingly bothers them most is not knowing if their children will ever be able to return to Bermuda on a permanent basis.

This simply is not what the parents had envisioned for the golden years of their lives — to be without their children and grandchildren. Perhaps for them, they still have the consolation of knowing that they can call, WhatsApp or Skype their loved ones.

Without a doubt, the most gut-wrenching visit we have to make is to the home of someone who has been taken away in the cruellest of ways. Having a mother place in your hands a framed photograph of her son who has been murdered is surreal, to say the least.

Feeling their anguish of recalling when last they laid eyes on or spoke to their child is something that one can never really be prepared for in any way, shape or form.

It leaves one with a feeling of helplessness knowing that there is nothing that you can say or do to bring their child back to life.

Indeed, it is at those moments that you transform from canvasser to counsellor.

People will always have differences of opinion when it comes to specific issues, views on religion and/or politics, yet there is a common thread that runs through us all. We all want to be able to provide for ourselves and for our children. We all want our children to grow up in the country that we have worked hard to build and to develop.

Most of all, we want our children to be given the chance to grow up.

Canvassing takes a lot of time, effort and patience. Yet, most of all, it takes having a prayer for and with your fellow human beings.