The Senior Afghan Women’s Circle reaches out to isolated and ostracized Afghan senior women in hopes of decreasing their social isolation and assisting them in becoming more active and healthy members of Canadian society. Afghan senior women are a segment of the larger Afghan community that has been recognized as experiencing tremendous mental health issues including post-traumatic stress, depression, culture shock, as well as physical health concerns. In addition, mobility and language barriers along with a general lack of knowledge about their new surroundings all contribute to feelings of social isolation and fear. The program provides and communicates information especially designed to fit their specific cultural needs, as well as creating an environment where they can provide one another with mutual support.
Support Group Meetings and Social Activities
To help alleviate the stresses of social isolation, Senior Afghan Women’s Circle facilitates an informal support meeting every week for participants to meet and socialize with one another. Also, staff members arrange field trips and picnics. Since most of the participants rarely leave their homes, outside activities provide a needed change of scenery and also incorporate physical activity into the support program.
Although informal gatherings provide an ideal environment for mutual support, addressing pressing issues such as awareness around health and wellness, intercultural and intergenerational conflict, as well as the provision of basic skills training (e.g., accessing transit, banking) can be better conducted in a more formal setting. Bi-monthly workshops are offered and provide information on some of the following topics:
- women’s health
- senior’s health
- intercultural and intergenerational conflict
- dental hygiene
- diet and healthy eating
- adapting to new surroundings
- accessing services (banking, public transportation, settlement services)
Individual Counselling and Follow-Up
Participants of the Senior Afghan Women’s Circle Program are contacted by a staff member on a regular basis. If a participant has more serious issues and/or concerns, staff members provide referrals, translation and interpretation, and accompaniment to help address their needs.