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Ismaili Seniors in the UK learn new skills and reconnect at annual fair
Aliya Lavji
Amir Dewji
16 July 2012
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    Participants at the Seniors Fair learn new exercise routines to improve their health and wellbeing. Photo: Imtiaz Masalawalla

    Participants at the Seniors Fair learn new exercise routines to improve their health and wellbeing. Imtiaz Masalawalla

    Over 900 senior members of the Jamat from around the United Kingdom participated in a Seniors Fair, which took place at Watford Colosseum on 10 June. Organised by the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board, the event provided an assortment of well-planned workshops designed to facilitate learning opportunities, health and wellbeing, social interaction and provided a host of entertainment.

    Also see:
    » Gallery: UK Ismaili Seniors Fair 2012
    » Listen to BBC Asian Network report on Ismaili Seniors Fair

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    “I was determined that I would attend today and learn how to send a text, which I am happy to have achieved,” said 69-year-old Rashida, speaking to Ushma Mistry, from the BBC Asian Network who was reporting a story how the Ismaili community is helping its elderly members stay up-to-date with technological advancements.

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    Flower arranging was one of the skills that seniors were able to learn at the fair. Photo: Sadru Verjee

    Flower arranging was one of the skills that seniors were able to learn at the fair. Sadru Verjee

    Salma Lalani, a Member of the Ismaili Council for the UK, said, “now that we live in a multimedia environment, seniors need to feel part of this environment.” Speaking to the BBC reporter, she added that “younger members of the community who are trained, are investing their time and teaching our seniors so that they can also be connected.”

    The atmosphere was upbeat and cheerful. The morning sessions provided participants with a chance to learn and practice new techniques in exercise, meditation and yoga. They could also explore beauty routine skills, flower arranging and henna art.

    Mansoor Esmail, Chairman of the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board, encouraged seniors to keep up with technology, maintain a healthy lifestyle and connect with their grandchildren. Advice was on hand from volunteers representing various Jamati institutions, who provided information on matters such as welfare benefits, writing a will and health insurance. The seniors were also able to capture a memento of the day at a free photo booth.

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    Young members of the Jamat facilitated workshops on web and mobile technology for senior participants. Photo: Imtiaz Masalawalla

    Young members of the Jamat facilitated workshops on web and mobile technology for senior participants. Imtiaz Masalawalla

    After a delicious luncheon, the Jamat was treated to a variety show that featured seniors clubs from around the UK. The highlight was a parade of cultural costumes titled Diverse Cultural Experience, that celebrated the traditions of Ismaili communities around the world.

    “No matter where we come from, we are one, united together in the love of our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam,” said Aga Khan Social Welfare Board Amir Dewji, project-lead for the event, “and having these kinds of events brings the seniors from different Jamats closer together.”

    At the afternoon tea session, the seniors' happiness was visible as they reconnected with each other. “We all feel younger coming to this event and meeting people in this kind of atmosphere – it makes us feel wanted,” said one participant.

    “This is a Khushiali for us.”

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    Members of the Jamat enjoy a range of performances at the afternoon variety show. Photo: Imtiaz Masalawalla

    Members of the Jamat enjoy a range of performances at the afternoon variety show. Imtiaz Masalawalla