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17 June 2019    |    Stories

Ayesha’s Story

Ayesha, YMCA Edinburgh Volunteer

I was born in Hyderabad in South India. I completed an M.Sc in Nutrition and Dietetics in India where I worked as a Lecturer. After I got married, my husband and I traveled a lot. We finally settled in Edinburgh 9 years ago.

Moving into a new country comes with its challenges. For me, it was accompanied with loneliness which I felt deeply since I had grown up in a community-centred culture.
As a child, and as far back as I can remember, my mother would gather women from the neighbourhood on the 2nd of every month. It was a religious gathering. My mum would recite a passage from the Quran and explain it. Afterward, the women would hang around and chat for hours.

They shared their lives, their problems, their losses and happy moments. They supported each other in whichever way they could. They had created a strong community, they were there for each other.

When I arrived in Edinburgh, I made friends through work and education but I felt like something was missing. I missed being part the wellbeing of a community. A friend introduced me to the YMCA’s women group. She was involved in the lunch prep and encouraged me to volunteer. This was a fantastic opportunity to share my skills and to be part of a community.
The women who attend the group face a wide range of personal challenges. The group is a place where they can share what’s going on around a meal.

The lunch is usually followed by a workshop. I have run Health and Wellbeing workshops for the group on a variety of themes such as: ‘Eat Yourself Well’, ‘Healthy Grazing for Kids’ and ‘Obesity and Diet Management’

As a nutritional therapist, I’m passionate about helping people who cannot afford personalised healthcare. Volunteering has reignited values of faith, compassion and community. This new community has become a new home.

I have seen volunteers grow in self-confidence, self-worth and witnessed their lives change for the better.

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