Martin C. Barry
More than 30 people were invited by the Himalaya Seniors of Quebec to the William Hingston Centre on Saint Roch St. on June 15 for a special celebration to mark Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim “breaking of the fast” at the end of Ramadan, while also honouring Himalaya Seniors president Vathany Srikandarajah who was named a Volunteer of the Year by Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension recently.
Three recent awards
It was the third time in recent years that the Himalaya Seniors were so honoured by the borough. In previous years, the organization’s general secretary Nizam Uddin had been named Volunteer of the Year and the group was also cited for its exceptional contributions to the Park Extension community.
Khokon Maniruzzaman, the EMSB school commissioner for Côte des Neiges, said the award received by Vathany Srikandarajah was “no small achievement. It’s a very big achievement. I first of all congratulate Mme Vathany and I hope that she will continue with her very good work.”
Praise from EMSB official
Maniruzzaman said he first met her “in action” as she was going about doing things in the Park Extension community. Comparing her to Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros, “who is very popular with people in other parts of the city,” Maniruzzaman said Vathany Srikandarajah “has done the same thing.
“I think she has followed in Mme Deros’s footsteps in the sense that she has worked for Côte des Neiges where I come from. And she is kind of self-effacing in the sense that she doesn’t really show off. But she works. I particularly remember in the elections four years ago, she worked for Mr. Anthony Housefather who got elected from the Liberal Party.
They make a good team
“And, you know, not willing to be seen or heard or marked at a particular gathering, she mobilized a number of people to make telephone calls or provide other assistance,” he continued. “I found it very remarkable that somebody was able to provide assistance to the election process. We have a duty as citizens to elect the right people, because there are several political parties that are on the scene but it is very important to vote for the right people.”
Maniruzzaman said that Vathany Srikandarajah and Nizam Uddin make an excellent team at the Himalaya Seniors of Quebec. “They work hard and every month there is something to attend,” he said. “It’s not easy to organize programs. It’s a difficult task. But they have succeeded.
Busy in the community
“So at the same time as I am congratulating Mme Vathany, I also would like to recognize the excellent contributions of Nizam. Because of these two individuals we get together and look to a great future for all of us and for our children.”
Councillor Mary Deros said, “You see her as president of Himalaya Seniors. You see her at events. But she has a furniture store that now has moved to the corner of Ogilvy and Bloomfield. She doesn’t just sell furniture. She’s like a social worker. Her community goes to her office and asks Vathany if she can help or to tell her they have a problem.
A friend to all in Park Ex
“She’s a sister, she’s a mother, she’s a friend to her community and she helps a lot of people. And that is something that is not visible to everybody else. Only the people that I know who have gone to see her. And she doesn’t get paid for that. She does that because she wants to help people.
“You know, volunteers if you put a price tag to the hours they put in helping people, it would be in the trillions across Canada,” added Deros. “This is something that usually the governments would have to pay. But the governments only have so much money that they can give. The difference is made up by volunteers. Vathany well deserves this recognition as Volunteer of the Year.”