By Aruna Krishnamurthy
Last year, to create visibility and awareness of Saheli, the South Shore chapter hosted a variety of activities.
These activities included hosting a number of tables and handed out Saheli flyers at a numerous local events, such as the Holbrook Temple festival, August Moon, the Asian Women for Health Survivors Fashion Show, the Diwali School program at Holbrook Middle School and others. To raise awareness about Saheli, Vandana Sharma attended the Martin Luther King luncheon at Harvard Pilgrim in January and met with Jannell Woods and one of their Administrators. Recently, Vandana also attended the 2nd Annual Meeting on Cancer Prevention in Norwood and met with many CDC leaders on research and discussed the need for earlier diagnosis, safer & better screenings, as well as alternative treatment inclusions. Further, Vandana has worked with Ramesh Advani and connected with VPS and the South Shore Cricket team in order to initiate the Men’s Initiative in the South. The Saheli South Shore chapter also attended the Mega Health Expo and distributed information about Saheli programs and its initiatives. The chapter has contacted other town police and courts like Walpole, Medfield, Millis, Milford, Stoughton, and reached out to Weymouth, Braintree and Holbrook.
In order to serve their members, the South shore chapter held a number of Sabhas during the course of the year that offered a platform for families to connect with each other. Each Sabha saw a new set of members, and the big Halloween get together in October, and small meetings with more community members in November and January, sparked off a great interest among members to continue meetings and build on friendship, support, and sharing of information. Other activities that led to an increased attendance by community members include the drumming circle with mothers and children in February and March and yoga and meditation session with Stillness Power. The yoga session helped members to connect with their inner selves, and identify triggers for relief from tension or pain with stress. The drumming circles also opened up conversations about healthy eating and natural ways to treat symptoms and sickness. As a followup, the group discussed inviting speakers on topics of mental health, resources, diet, children and managing new ways to living with newly immigrant families. During April, the group implemented an art project with children and mothers that ended up in a large poster board for Mother’s Day, which was donated to Father Bills Shelter. Groups broke out into conversations about needing more unity and support in the community and feeling a sense of belonging and togetherness.
The South Shore chapter has also worked with experts in the field of mental health and child development to bring new ideas and experiences to its group. There were three speakers of note in the month of May that spoke on issues regarding children. First, Renu Tewarie, the principal of Shishu Bharati, a school of languages and culture of India, spoke about the need for children who are born and/or brought up in US to learn about Indian languages and culture. Then, two guest speakers from PPAL were invited to speak about children’s mental health. The outreach coordinator, Norma and another guest speaker gave a detailed description of the services that they provide for parents and professionals to better understand their children and identify the mental and emotional challenges that they might be facing, so that they can overcome them in the best ways possible. The talk was very educative and created a much needed awareness about children’s mental health and the way to approach it. The event with Nisha Kagal from South Shore Mental Health started with a presentation on child development, parent-child interactions and child mental health. The guest speaker took the audience through the various stages in a child’s growth year by year, what to expect during each year, how to solve the problems that parents face with their children and how to take care of their mental health. The other guest speaker told us about the various therapies and services that they offer. After the presentation, many mothers raised questions regarding this topic, and the event ended with a grand potluck!
The response of members and the community at large has been overwhelmingly positive. Community members wanted more events like these for summer and spoke about field trips, volunteering in the community and expressing themselves through art and music. They wanted more information on Women’s Health and safer practices that are culture specific. Some members wanted to start a literacy program in the South and to initiate resource building for local communities. Vandana and a few volunteers reached out to local venues for a possible space and followed up with Deepika Madan on her existing program on Computer Literacy in Waltham. The proposal was created in April and is currently being developed. Computer Literacy will potentially cover from Basic Computers to Programming and Gadget Familiarity. Follow up with the library is scheduled at the end of July.