I have in the past often used the expression "giving dignity". In reflecting on this I wonder whether this phrase is unhelpful. It seems to put power and control in the "giver". I wonder whether it is better to use phrasing like "recognize the dignity" or "acknowledge the dignity" or affirm the dignity".
Surely part of dignity is equality and affirming or recognizing that as we meet someone we are both of equal value. I remember a visit from an Australian friend of ours (Anji Barker) to a visually impaired friend of ours. One of the first things she did was to ask him to show her how to write her name in Braille. This simple, yet profound act was intentionally done to place her in a position of need and the man in a position as teacher. It was an act which recognized equality and thereby affirmed dignity.
In our work in Hillbrow we are learning that we are not here to help our community as much as we are here to stand in solidarity with our community and to journey alongside as friends and neighbours. We laugh together, cry together, learn from one another and work as coconspirators of a new world together. We are friends and neighbours.