Reading Time: 4 minutesRAIN welcomes a promising 2014 after the past year was filled with successful events and operations. SUDHA NATARAJAN reports
2013 was an event-packed year for Resourceful Australian Indian Network (RAIN). Our management committee earned so much respect for the projects undertaken and carried out successfully, that the whole committee was re-elected without a second thought.
Financially the year saw progress, and this was reflected through the enhanced facilities at our community premises at 501 Forest Road, Penshurst and our repayment of 30% of the loans taken from caring community members.
The unique strength of RAIN lies in its members, our seniors. Their past experiences in life have taught them frugal spending, but it is their generosity in times of need, the capacity to save wherever possible, and strategic planning of finances that has helped us to a great extent, to be where we are. They contribute whatever they possibly can towards the progress of an organisation which works hard to move towards its aim of having a facility that would cater for the ethno-specific needs of our community elders, whether it is a nursing home or an adult care facility, where their needs are cared for while their family is at work.
RAIN has had an effective community consultation and has come up with plans for 2014 including what makes the seniors socially inclusive and active and happy. There are projects which will progressively assist with their involvement in healthy pursuits and creative learning, as well as a continued assessment of their needs.
Our Mahila project has successfully carried out a health survey and assessment of Indian subcontinent women over 50, and the analysis of this survey is currently being done by Prof Ritin Fernandez, Professor of Nursing at St. George Hospital and Cathy O’Callaghan of NSW Health South Eastern Sydney Local District. We also produced a DVD titled A triumph of Light over Darkness on the story of ageing, which was screened at the Civic Theatre in Hurstville during the Diwali Discovery festival.
RAIN seniors were also partners in the Hurstville Multicultural Community Choir Fiestaville, at its debut performance. Together with 40 Chinese participants led by Danny Dong and Christina Mimmocchi, our own Gitanjali choir singers Nisha, Shantaben, Manjuben and Jayaben, led by Usha Chaula and Veda Srinivasan in dazzling sarees performed Indian traditional songs and also a special Diwali song, which included an extract of a poem specially written by Dr Ramah Juta to music by Christina Mimmocchi. Fantastic Bollywood dancing was performed by Gita Pandit, Usha Naker, Veena Girdhar, Hina Wadhwana, Smita Bhoola and Anita Patel, at the event. Thanks to Hurstville Council officers David Linden, Anne-Marie Wiles, Brenda Eggleton and Jamal Bassam, the program was successfully planned and presented to an appreciative multicultural audience.
Our highlight of the year was the stunning Kalachakra concert performance by Mrs Hamsa Venkat and the Sanskriti School of Dancing at Marana Auditorium. The 800+ audience was spellbound by the performance, and the committee is truly grateful to Hamsa for such staunch support in fundraising for a noble cause.
We had two projects in the past two years, the Heritage Circle with Hurstville and Kogarah Council funding support, and Leave a Legacy project in partnership with Gymea Community Aid and Information Centre, with funding support from Sutherland Council. These projects encouraged seniors to come up with memories in their lives and also historical events in which their families were involved. The material collected was exhibited during Seniors Week and those involved were also invited to talk on their experiences during Diwali celebrations. Armed with this treasury of information through these projects, we decided to continue collecting information and published a book which will help us know our seniors and highlight their interesting, yet untold experiences. We are thankful to the Kogarah City Council for funding this project. Questionnaires have been distributed to seniors covering details of their lives, past and present. Our seniors, though of Indian origin, are from Africa (east and south), Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and other countries. Many have experienced World War II, and despite being born in other countries, their parents who migrated there ensured that they were deeply rooted in traditions sacredly and respectfully carried from the motherland India. The book titled Travel Through Times, will also reflect the traditional norms of our seniors and will offer insights into how they kept their culture intact through several journeys and decades. It will also provide awareness of time-told traditions and norms for the benefit of service providers in the region. An exhibition will be held at the Kogarah Library during Seniors Week, supported by the Kogarah City Council and its officer Arabella, and a special celebration will be held to mark Harmony Day.
RAIN remains strong and silent, enhancing and empowering its seniors through several awareness sessions and stimulating projects. Our fun-loving seniors not only focus on games, arts and crafts, recipe sharing, yoga and meditation, singing and Bingo, they also take intellectual journeys that help jog their memories and encourage creativity. With support from Illawara Catholic Club as part of Hurstville Council’s Clubs NSW program, we have a community development project that invites different language speaking seniors on each Wednesday to get together and explore scripture and slokas in that language. Mr Sambamurthi leads the Tamil group with his expert rendering of Tamil literature, and RAIN Chairperson RS Loga delights the Tamil group with her poetry reading sessions. The Sanskrit group learns the meanings of slokas, learning alongside the ancient language, dhanyavadha (thanks) to our tutor Dr Meenakshi Karthikeyan. We also have regular meditation sessions conducted by Dr Gunu Naker on Friday mornings, and yoga by Vedavalli Srinivasan. Our Vice Chairpersons Adarsh Sachdev and Hardika Hirani, along with secretaries Subhash Rughani and Rita Devmurari, keep the Hindi and Gujarathi sessions active and alive with bhajans and antakshari. We have active Fiji Indian representation with Nisha Hunt, Satya Sharma, Gayatri Sharma and others.
An organisation guided by the wisdom of seniors with their varied talents and a practical education that only experience can provide, will definitely achieve success in its endeavours.