AHIA: Picking up the strings

AHIA's new lease of life showed at its recent annual dinner held at Cheerybrook

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There’s been a flurry of activity in one of the oldest associations in Sydney’s Indian community. The Australian Hindi Indians Association (AHIA) is seeing a revival after a lull of a few years, and its new lease of life showed at its recent annual dinner held at Cheerybrook. A hall filled with members enjoyed the tastefully organised festivities on the occasion.

Days later, an AGM was held, at which a new Executive Committee was elected. “There hasn’t been an AGM for five years now,” community elder Tilak Kalra told Indian Link. “So it was good to see 200 members turn up.”

AHIA AGM

Santram Bajaj, another elder, agreed, “It is a healthy trend, as more and more members are becoming interested in the Association and its activities.”

The Association was formed to bring together the Hindi-speaking community, at a time before people associated on Facebook and WhatsApp groups. Its intent was to celebrate cultural events such as Diwali and Holi on large scale, promote the Hindi language, and provide a platform for seniors to have a better quality of life.

MP Alex Hawke at the inauguration of the van services

Years down the track, it is the third of these that seems to have maintained the highest agency, with the AHIA Senior Citizens Forum growing in its popularity and relevance. Its members meet on a regular basis in neatly organised events: they mingle and engage in group activities such as yoga and bingo, listen to presentations on health and finance-based information, and have a light meal. Picnics and outdoor events are sometimes organised, and birthdays and anniversaries are marked.

At a recent event, a much-needed service for seniors was facilitated with the help of the Indian Consulate and the Indian Migrant Centre, to ease the process of pension remuneration for Indian citizens living here. Consul Mr SK Verma was present to personally help with the documentation.

State MP Damien Tudehope and wife Dianne join members at AHIA annual dinner

In an upcoming event, a grand Grandparents Day is being planned at which extended families will be involved. The success of the Senior Citizens Forum is due largely to the small bunch of people who have been organising this platform for over twenty years now. Their sense of service – and the respect accorded to those who are but seeking a sense of value – has kept the group going.

In a new initiative, a van has been acquired to help transport members. It was purchased for $25000 with a special grant of $12000 provided by the Department of Home Affairs. Members have for years been ferried to and from the stations by volunteers. It is hoped the van will enable, among other things, visits to the frail and needy in their own homes.

Damien Tudehope and Yash Bhasin (dancing)

Early signs are that the same level of activity and dedication will be shown by the incoming AHIA Executive Committee to serve the larger association which is now 500-strong. Yash Bhasin is the new President, with Rajendra Channa serving as Vice president, Kali Gupta as Secretary and Vipin Dogra as Treasurer. They will be assisted by volunteers Sushma Ahluwalia, Mita Sharma, Preeti Thadani, Sarita Sachdev and Sudha Ramdev. Many of these names had already shown their active involvement at the annual dinner – at the very venue where it all started in 1994: their upbeat and energetic program is hopefully a harbinger of AHIA 2.0.

AHIA Seniors Forum holds its meeting every second Saturday of the month at Wentworthville Community Centre.

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Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.
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