Update post of Alternative volunteering:Health-care Symposium Project Summary
by Francois Pan on January 5, 2016 - 7:40am
After a month of preparation, the long waited health-care symposium finally took place in my house at La Prairie on the 6 of June 2015. In my not so spacious basement where around twenty-five chairs, a dozen of fruit plates and a portable chalk board were minutely placed. People arrived in succession from nine o'clock to nine thirty. Shortly before the start of the symposium, as me and my partner Qiu Zi were waiting for the rest of the audience to arrive, the arrived guests were already actively conversing with my grandmother ( who was the speaker of the symposium). At nine thirty in the morning, as my grandmother started to share her self-care tips and anecdotes, fifteen people or so had already settled down and attentively listened to the narrator. During the next two and an half hour my grandmother related her decade-long suffering from type II diabetes, protrusion of intervertebral disc, asthma, hyperlipidemia and other common diseases of advanced age. She also shared with great detail how she had tried various methods ranging from traditional Chinese medicine, Western Medicine, diet therapy to physical therapy and how she had finally found the ones that are helpful to her own condition. Her advises, although not authoritative from an academic point of view, was very authentic, practicable and harmless to say the least. Her self-care tips consisted majorly of diverse types of diet therapy, physical exercises along with Chinese acupoint massage. The audience listened and participated actively to the tips and demonstrations. To the surprise of both me and my Partner, at the end of the activity, many of the elderly present also started to share their own stories, tips and attitude of coping with diseases. It is hard to tell to what extent did the audience present benefit from all the self-care tips and advise. However, from the flushing and glowing countenance of the leaving guests, one was able to easily tell that they have passed a memorable and fulfilling night where they have also made the acquaintances of many new friends, That alone is very significant for senior immigrants living in a new environment.
Although the symposium was intended to last only one night, due to the length of the discussion, the activity resumed the very next day with 12 people and lasted for another two hours.
This kind of small-sized individual organized activity aiming at helping immigrants can have many advantages over government or NGOs organized activities of similar kind. First, small-sized symposium is very flexible and customizable. The schedule, content and location can all change according to the needs of the circumstances and the nature of the audience. Second, the small size of the audience makes the atmosphere very friendly and relaxed where acquaintance can be easily made between guests. Third, the low cost of organizing such an event makes it an affordable option for people with similar intent but don't have the resource to do it.
Conclusion: To effectively improve the psychological and physical health of immigrants of advanced age, it is important to render accessible, not only the relevant information, but also people who have similar culture background, age and experiences. The majority of elderly immigrants encounter the same sets of problems: communication difficulties, insurance, housing, health-care, transportation etc. A small-sized activity as such can offer opportunities for people to readily make friends who have gone through similar events as them and who can consequently offer relevant and practicable advise. A short survey at the end of activities can also help better identify the needs of the senior immigrant population.
For people who want to help improve the life of elderly immigrants, hopefully the little activity me and my partner Qiu Zi have organized can give you some inspiration!