The South Asian Muslim Association of Australia (SAMAA) engaged actively with the community seniors during COVID-19 lockdown. A weekly virtual Zoom session during Ramadan proved very popular where many seniors joined the live video sessions while many more watched the recordings at a later stage.
Due to the corona pandemic, SAMAA had to postpone its annual event of Jashne Buzurg (Seniors Festival) scheduled for 22 March 2020 in order to avoid health risk to seniors.
The fasting month of Ramadan during the pandemic exaggerated the feeling of isolation as families were unable to meet for traditional Iftars and prayers.
Thus SAMAA decided to hold weekly sessions of virtual get together using online Zoom facility.
The community doctors and health professionals volunteered to give very useful talks. They spoke about COVID-19 disease, the ways to stay fit to minimise the risks and important health guidelines for seniors in order to cope with the pandemic.
They also spoke about anxiety and ways to stay relaxed during the lockdown.
Fasting by seniors during the holy month is a challenge and therefore related medical aspects were addressed by various speakers.
Other ageing issues such as chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis and osteoporosis during old age were also covered during these sessions.
The speakers included Dr Faizia Ahmad, Dr Soofia Khan, Dr Aejaz Sheriff of Melbourne, Mr Hassan Qureshi, an exercise physiologist supported by the technical team of Syed Afzal Hussain and Hassan Qureshi managing Zoom.
SAMAA senior Dr Noorjahan, a retired Psychiatrist spoke at length to uplift the spirit of attending SAMAA elders who actively participated during Q&A session, seeking clarifications on many health issues.
Managing Director of Gallipoli Home, Dr Abdur Rahman Asarogulu introduced to the audience the new Home Care service which they are beginning soon, in addition to their residential 102 bed nursing home facility.
They are approved Home Care Package (HCP) provider established to cater for Muslim cultural sensitivities and have muti-lingual staff including Urdu, Bangla and Hindi speaking staff.
It was also the time of spiritual reflection and heightened devotion during Ramadan. The program started with the recitation of Quran, Hamd or Naat by volunteers including Srs Kashifa Khan, Faiza Khan, Razia Sultan and Hafiz Abdur Rahman.
Maulana Nazeerul Hassan Thanvi answered questions from the audience on important fiqh matters specially related to fasting and made dua to conclude the programs.
These recorded talks can be watched on SAMAA Facebook.
As annual Eid get together event was not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions, a special Eid webcast was held on Sunday 31 May 2020.
The program began with a Naat recitation by popular Sydney singer Shagufta Zia.
Federal Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Hon Richard Colbeck, during his video message congratulated SAMAA for holding the event. He said more than one third of senior Australians were born overseas and specially thanked Muslim seniors for their contribution to the nation.
NSW Acting Minister for Multiculturalism, Seniors & Veterans, Dr Geoff Lee, during his video message, appreciated SAMAA’s effort in embracing technology to alleviate social isolation of the elders and providing them useful information through health professionals during COVID crisis.
He congratulated Muslim seniors for rising magnificently during the challenging times of pandemic while observing prayers and fasting during the fasting month.
Dr Lee conveyed a hearty Eid Mubarak to SAMAA members and seniors.
NSW MP Hon Julia Finn joined live to applaud SAMAA for the great initiative in bringing together community seniors during this difficult time and congratulated the members and the seniors for Eid-ul-Fitr.
An informative session by ageing and dementia specialist Anju Mathur was the key feature of the day. She explained the procedures for accessing various aged care services.
Sydney singer Priya Das thrilled the viewers with popular Bollywood songs of 1970s.
SAMAA seniors Mrs Kaneez Fatima Ali recited an emotional Urdu poem on Mother’s Day while Mr Iqbal Ghaznavi told about Eid celebrations in Sydney during initial years after arriving in Sydney in 1968.
Another interesting story related to the father of Dr Aejaz Sheriff. Late Dr Azizuddin Sheriff was one of the first few Indian doctors to arrive in Australia in 1968 which was covered by the TV news and the newspapers of the time. The news clip of The Age dated 30 December 1968 was shared with the audience to their delight.
Mr Zahid Jamil, on behalf of SAMAA, welcomed the seniors and other attendees during the sessions. He spoke about various SAMAA services and initiatives and urged the community seniors and their families to contact SAMAA coordinator Mrs Kaukab Saulat for all their needs.
For more details, please visit SAMAA website www.samaa.org.au