Empathy in action

Tanya News, Settlement in the Community News

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” This quote has always been motivated Shakira Quraishi in her work helping disadvantaged clients to improve their living.

Hamida, one of many Shakira’s clients, came to Canada as a Government-assisted refugee. She has been suffering from mental health issues and post-traumatic stress disorder for years after her head injury in the Afghan war and losing four children after divorce.

Hamida first time met Shakira about two years ago in the Toronto City Hall, one of the community spaces of CultureLink SWCS program. Shakira helped her to reconnect to CCTV (Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture), to resume English classes and to receive support with her issues at the residence she lived. Hamida slowly started getting better and attending English Conversation sessions, but everything changed after COVID-19 lockdown. Hamida felt very socially isolated in her living space and didn’t have any community contact. Before pandemic she has been coming to City Hall to see Shakira at least once a week, just to share some news as a friend or ask for advice.

Shakira started working remotely during COVID-19 quarantine, responding to clients’ requests for housing, health care, job search, benefit applications etc. To help socially isolated clients like Hamida and secure all possible resources for them has become even more important for Shakira in the time of pandemic.

After many phone calls and meetings arranged by Shakira, Hamida now has regularly scheduled social worker’s home visits and arranged medication deliveries, as well as hot meals delivered to her home daily by Meals on Wheels. Hamida also is able now to discuss her health problems with her family doctor with the help of an interpreter, and has regular home safety checks. In addition, Shakira made sure that Hamida gets mental health reassessment by CCTV.

To make her client feeling less isolated in her apartment, Shakira negotiated with Rogers to secure low-cost ($10 a month) internet service for Hamida. She also contacted one of our former staff member and dedicated volunteer, who purchased a new flat screen smart TV for Hamida and together with Shakira delivered TV to her apartment.

Hamida’s stability has improved immensely. She started feeling better and now continues her drawings that has always been her passion.
Shakira’s professionalism and persistence made all the difference for this client, and Hamida is one among many others who recognized Shakira’s empathy in action.