Nidhal’s story: “It’s important to know people who live close by”.

By HBH - 30 September 2021

Nidhal’s story: “It’s important to know people who live close by”.

Nidhal is one of Virtual Village East’s longest standing members: she joined when our social network for seniors began in 2018. She has particularly enjoyed the Safe & Strong exercise programme and our Mindfulness programme – her two favourite activities.

Her family immigrated to New Zealand 24 years ago from Iraq to give their children a better life and more security. At the time their four children ranged in ages from 7 years to 2 months old. “It was a considerable change but we adapted and I now have four Iraqi-Kiwi children!” she says.

Nidhal has Arabic friends, but she says that joining New Zealand’s first Virtual Village has provided her with opportunities to meet other local seniors. After leaving her employment, Nidhal recognised the importance of staying connected within the community. “Virtual Village East has allowed me to meet and socialise with new people in my community.”

She has also enjoyed meeting other seniors at our monthly Coffee & Catch-up sessions and Information Mornings, which cover a wide range of topics for seniors, from technology to safety to cooking. “We create something in common by doing something together,” she explains. “It makes it easier to get to know people when you’re having fun or learning together.”

Nidhal also likes the fact that Virtual Village East enables seniors to age well at home. “The Village offers activities that enable us to live well in our own homes and to remain mentally and physically active. A friend made me aware of the importance of keeping up my muscle strength, which is one of the reasons I joined the Safe & Strong exercise programme.”

“I’ve especially enjoyed the Mindfulness course,” she says. “It helps to manage stress and anxiety and, now that I‘ve been doing it for a while, it is really making a difference. Robyn and Parvin who take the classes are so supportive. I had a fall recently and Robyn offered to give me some exercises to help with my rehabilitation. Lee is also wonderful and I know she’s only a phone call away.”

Nidhal has appreciated the benefits of Virtual Village East even more in lockdown. “While I miss attending the classes each week, it has been wonderful to be able to continue with everything at home,” she says. “The exercise videos, quizzes and recipes are interesting and I look forward to receiving the weekly newsletters. It has really helped during lockdown!”

Lisa Waldren