With a Doctorate in Biochemistry, an MHA from the Telfer School, combined with being a certified health coach and a community gardener, Dr. Sarah Musavi found a way to put her credibility and expertise to the service of the community - especially the South Asian women’s community - during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, after being laid-off from the Ottawa Catholic School Board following the Covid-19 lockdown measures, Dr. Musavi received “a number of messages from friends around the globe, especially those [who are] either frontline health workers or those stuck in India in their apartments, relating their distress and anxiety with the situation.”
In response to these messages, she started making YouTube videos: “I realized that a lot of women I knew from the Asian community were feeling the stress of what to cook for [their family in order to] remain healthy. As I posted these videos, I started getting messages from women in India, Canada, the U.S. and the Middle East to help them with cooking foods while retaining Indian flavours, but also boost immunity.”
Knowing she could help in other ways as a resource for health information, Dr. Musavi also developed a website called Women End Diabetes, where she shares articles under the banner Corona Times, and she even started a personal support group on WhatsApp.
“One of the ladies suggested that I start a group and name it Sisters Health Club, which I did. Immediately, I had about 45 women come on board. This included doctors, scientists, engineers, homemakers, social workers - who were now interacting with each other and asking me about different health topics,” shares Dr. Musavi.
The Importance of Having a Network
For the last seven weeks, this group of women has been discussing new topics and “sharing recipes and any information they found to help each other” in 2-hour long Zoom calls.
“Initially, I was talking about immunity and foods, but then I let the topics be decided based on each call,” says Dr. Musavi. The conversation has now evolved to include “various women speakers talking about their experiences ranging from healthcare comparisons between developed and developing worlds, time management, brain health, and stress management based on personal experience and scientific information.”
Helping Others Remain Hopeful
Through this growing network, Dr. Musavi is happy to have put her free time to good use by helping others to reduce all-around anxiety during these times.
“With the lockdown in place and a family to feed at home, […] sharing and expanding my knowledge has probably helped a lot of families remain hopeful and also avert some health issues by building their immunity through the power of knowledge and group connectivity on a personal basis,” she concludes.