COVID-19 has impacted the physical, social and economic well-being of nearly everyone individual in Canada. To alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that families are facing as a result of job loss, missed schooling and health concerns, BAPS Charities hosted two separate informational webinars on April 11, 2020. Relevant professionals from various backgrounds volunteered their time and expertise in making the webinar a success.
Each webinar was aimed to educate and support two groups – one was for the general community and the second was specifically for international students in Canada. When asked about the purpose of the seminars and the intended outcomes, Shirish Shah, President of BAPS Charities said, “BAPS Charities is committed to the well-being of the community and webinars ensure the public health messaging of social distancing along with the various other relevant messages are communicated to the community in a clear and concise manner.”
The webinars were attended by over 2,500 families and over 800 international students from across Canada. Besides providing vital information, the webinar also offered an opportunity to the attendees to send online questions on the various topics presented. The webinar:
- provided the community and international students relevant information, in a simple and concise manner on a single platform, addressing topics of health, government reliefs, continuing education and personal well-being;
- offered information in English and Gujarati to ensure all household members understand critical information and follow the guidance from local authorities;
- offered ongoing customised education and awareness based webinars to the community in an effort to ensure everyone has accurate and updated information from governments and health authorities;
- emphasized the importance of social distancing, staying at home and the critical role that each of us have to play in slowing down the spread of this disease; and
- provided information and strategies to resources that are available for all family members including children, youths, adults and seniors.
- The seminar was well received and applauded by the panel and the attendees.
Priyanka Patel, a dental hygienist from Calgary is directly impacted by the pandemic. Reflecting on the webinar, she stated, “From the webinar, I learned of the various supports that I can access. I was frustrated with the bombardment of the various information and this webinar was timely and truly a great gift. It gave me next steps and more importantly it has given me hope. I am grateful to the organizers.”
Another attendee, Kanisa Mistry, mother of young children from Ontario expressed the following: “As a parent of young children, I personally appreciated the care extended by BAPS Charities to the education and welfare of children. In addition to health and government benefits, BAPS Charities included ideas and concrete tools to extend our children’s education through the current difficult times. Having the information about the educational activities with a schedule was exceptional.”
“To provide ongoing support, community members and international students are able to access this invaluable service by simply submitting an online request for personal support”, mentioned Yogi Patel, Operational Director at BAPS Charities. He further added, “Coined as a ‘one-stop shop’ for everything related to Covid 19, this webinar proved to be more than just a support tool, it gave people hope. A dedicated team of professional BAPS Charities volunteers will provide personalized guidance and support in the areas of health, government relief, continuing education and personal well-being.”
In addition to the webinar, BAPS Charities has prepared a resource pamphlet for quick and easy access addressing many of the common questions that individuals and families may have. The pamphlet is available at https://www.bapscharities.org/covid19-canada.