Speaking Their Language

One Step Towards Life program welcomes South Asian newcomers

The One Step Towards Life (Ek Kadam Jeevan Ki) program was created by the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association of Edmonton (ICWA) in an effort to empower newcomers and immigrants within the South Asian community.

Through virtual and in-person classes, One Step Towards Life supports the physical and mental well-being of its participants. Activities include yoga, meditation, art classes, workshops on nutrition and presentations on financial literacy. It also organizes info sessions about community resources and services for seniors as well as health-related topics like dental care.

The program started in April of 2023, and runs until March 31, 2024.

One thing that sets One Step Towards Life apart from other programs aimed at helping newcomers to Edmonton is that it focuses on the needs of the South Asian community. Program Coordinator Vasudha Tiwari is fluent in Gujrati, Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu, which allows her to better communicate and connect with those participating in the program.

“You know everybody thinks in their own language. And they wanted someone where they don’t need to think about the translation part, they can just share their feelings. And that happened only in their own language,” says Tiwari.

Many participants of the program are seniors who are looking for community and a sense of belonging. The program celebrated its seniors on National Seniors Day by hosting a talent show and dinner. Participants showcased their singing and dancing, and 150 people attended.

COVID brought a growing sense of isolation for seniors, so events like this are important. “This was a way of making them feel welcome and engaged in the community. And it’s been really, really helpful, because there’s a camaraderie among the people who attend our programs and (it’s) nice to watch,” says Jodi Zabludowski, the executive director of the ICWA.

Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) has been a proud supporter of ICWA and provided One Step Towards Life with a $60,900 grant.

“We’re so grateful to the Edmonton Community Foundation and for the assistance that we’ve received in the past and for this program. And it’s made such a huge difference in the lives of people who participated in all our programs. Without ECF, this program would not have taken place. So, we are so thankful and grateful to ECF,” explains Zabludowski.

This story comes from the Spring 2024 Edition of Legacy in Action. Read the full issue.