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Janet Melba

May 18, 2022

“Being homebound during the pandemic was difficult but these sessions gave her that channel and hope”

Written by Abirah Chandraraj, Social Media Intern

Janet is a client at SCHC’s Tamil Caregiver Wellness Program. She joined her mother, Usha, in various sessions where she had the opportunity to attend classes for yoga, breathing exercises, drawing, and computer classes. These classes really helped her mother during the pandemic. This is her story.

How did you hear about this program at SCHC?

I, Janet, work as an Information Counsellor in the Peel Region to work with and organize various activities for a group of seniors. Unfortunately, all the activities I organized were in English so my mother was unable to join as she only spoke Tamil.

One day, I received a flyer for one of the community services from Dharshana Jeyapathy, SCHC’s Coordinator for Tamil Seniors Health Program. The flyer mentioned yoga classes, but the moment I saw the words ‘Tamil’ and ‘Seniors’ in the same sentence, it caught my attention. That was when I reached out to Dharshana and asked if my mom could join and fortunately, she said yes!

What motivated you to register your mother for this program?

My mom, Usha, came from Tamil Nadu, India. Throughout her life, she was a housewife and spent her free time sewing dresses and cultural clothing for other kids and herself. After moving to Canada, she spent her summer days going on small walks or dropping my daughter off at school and her winter days staying at home and watching TV shows. Altogether, my mother did not really do much for herself.

The pandemic played a key role in having me register my mother for this program. Since everything was shifted to a virtual setting, it was easy for me to work from home while also allowing me to help my mom set up the laptop to join the classes from home. I’m thankful I came across this program as it changed her life.

What is your mother’s life like after attending these programs?

The program made my mother feel hopeful! She would look forward to attending these sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She would be so excited that she would ask a day before to make sure I received the zoom link for the sessions. Coming from a foreign country, my mother did not have a social circle or connectivity in Canada, so these sessions made her happy and was a way for her to connect socially with others.

​My mother is very shy so during the sessions, she does not put her camera on. She says that it feels good to hear people talk in Tamil and like-minded ages because it makes her happy. Being homebound during the pandemic was difficult but these sessions gave her that channel and hope. My mother joined all the classes that were offered, from computer classes to yoga classes to drawing classes, and more. She said that the computer sessions were helpful for her because she learned how to access zoom. It made her feel more confident when she sat in front of a laptop. During the drawing classes, she got many compliments from her kids and her grandkids. They were impressed which made her feel really happy. She did not know how to draw before so being able to realize this profound talent of hers made her super proud and happy. My mom’s hand also shakes a bit so with the drawing classes, she was able to draw with precision. It was quite admirable to see. Even with the yoga classes and breathing exercises, she did not know anything prior to attending.

My mother has been a homemaker, had not really done anything much for herself. Attending these classes not only helped her physically and mentally, it helped her gain confidence that she can do something for herself too. She feels motivated to try new things and being able to see these small changes in my mother’s life has made me really proud of her.

What would you say to encourage someone to join and attend these programs?

I would definitely encourage any Tamil-speaking seniors to join and attend these programs. They were practical sessions for seniors that were very informative and educational. The instructors gave really detailed instructions and they taught really well during each session. They offered a variety of sessions such as yoga, painting, drawing, and more. Overall, it was a very welcoming environment and I would definitely recommend it to any Tamil speaking senior I come across.

​If you are a Tamil-speaking friend or family member caring for a loved one, please visit SCHC’s Tamil Caregiver Wellness Program.