Trust making connections

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The Mixing Bowl, run by the Southland Hindi School charitable trust board, is a social group for mothers and women from refugee and migrant backgrounds providing an opportunity to meet others, make connections and offer support.

A WOMEN’S social group and a playgroup are two of the latest initiatives established by the Southland Hindi School charitable trust board.

Begun two years ago with five pupils, the school now had 16 enrolled pupils attending Hindi classes and five children in the playgroup.

Southland Hindi School charitable trust board director/chairwoman Himani Mishra Galbraith said the registered charity trust board’s aims and objectives included “imparting Hindi language and connecting children with their heritage to enable them to feel confident and competent in who they are and from where they came from… an integration of Indian heritage and Kiwi values needed to be confident and competent community member of the future”.

Since moving to Invercargill, Mrs Galbraith said she had seen growing anxiety within the Indian community who often felt lonely and disconnected from their homeland and the community they were now living in.

To fill that gap and to bring people closer, she established the charitable trust with the medium of language, art and culture.

She said she had also seen parents struggling to teach their children their mother tongue, which could lead to them questioning their identity and not feeling proud of who they were.

“As a teacher in New Zealand for more than six years, I had seen this struggle could be real and sometimes children become vulnerable with a lack in self confidence.”

The Mixing Bowl, which had been running for the past four months, was a social group for mothers and women from refugee and migrant backgrounds, to come together to share a light refreshment with others and provide an opportunity to meet others, make connections and offer support.

“It was a programme for migrant women by migrant women to share, help and support migrant women who were new to Kiwi land and for those who already made New Zealand their home.”

Through “word of mouth”, about 21 people from various backgrounds, including the Indian community, Columbia, Singapore and Chinese, had already begun attending, she said

Some of the aims were to create an environment for women where they could visit, along with their children, to make new friends, talk, discuss and to learn, which would help them connect with their fellow New Zealanders by bridging the cultural gaps and differences.

“It offers a platform to discuss the things which interest them, whether it be Kiwi jargon and language or how to make an airline booking.

“And hopefully to help with their integration into the Kiwi way of life and to, maybe, becoming a citizen.”

Mrs Galbraith said even topics such as the weather were discussed, as it could be especially difficult when someone is new to a country in this weather. “When they have come from a tropical country. It can be difficult. And the different types of food, how to adapt to this new environment and climate.

“Sometimes we forget. These small things can affect you in a big way, your self esteem… it can be a big adjustment.”

Workshops about various topics including immigration, general law in New Zealand, well-being and mindfulness were also on the agenda.

“As well as a general discussion and questions, there is always lots and lots of fun and laughter,” she said.

Children were also welcomed, and a variety of block and board games would be available to keep them engaged.

As well as the opportunity to make new friends, a different guest speaker would also share their knowledge at the fortnightly meetings which were held at the Invercargill City Library upstairs meeting room, 3pm-5pm, fortnightly on Sundays.

Raising awareness
The playgroup, which catered for children aged from 2 to 6 years old was held on Tuesdays, 9am-noon, and Thursday, 11am-2.30pm upstairs in the WEA building on Esk St.

Mrs Galbraith said the twice-weekly playgroup could host up to 12 children and caregivers.

Activities included learning Hindi, cultural awareness of Indian culture including values, traditions, art, yoga/pilates, music and dance, as well as afternoon tea.

“Parents and children are welcome to just turn up.

“It is a warm, cosy place.”

  • For more information, go to southland.hindi.school@gmail.com or the Migrants Support Playgroup Facebook page.
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