Dr. Vinita Ganju is always ready with a quick smile and a friendly spirit. She is a wife, mother, Indian-American, a proud Hindu, and a Samaritan volunteer. She exemplifies the spirit of service that is present among Samaritan’s team of 500 volunteers. Taking initiative to resolve a need in her community comes naturally to her. Vinita saw a need for end-of- life healthcare education, especially for the seniors, in her Hindu faith community. Although no longer a practicing doctor, she wanted to use her training, and that of other experts, to educate her community about the options available for end-of-life care planning. Achieving this goal required bringing trustworthy experts into the community. Vinita took initiative and reached out to Samaritan and open the door to a discussion of faith and end-of-life care.
As a practicing Hindu she jokes that she volunteers so much as a way to “rack up points to achieve moksha.”
Moksha is one of the four goals of the Hindu faith. Hindus believe in the cycle of death and rebirth. When one achieves Moksha one is freed.¹
Joining the board at her temple, The Indian Temple Association (ITA), she was looking for ways to engage the seniors in the temple and meet needs they may have. Facilitating educational programming and answering questions for the senior group at the weekly meetings provided the occasion to engage seniors about advanced care planning.
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Samaritan’s education for the Indian Hindu senior group provided an inter-sectional view of end-of-life care as it relates to the Hindu faith. Hospice care treats serious Vinita has observed that Indian’s prefer to be at home when they pass. Hospice care proves perfect for this preference, as patients can receive care in their homes. Over the course of two years of dedicated education the seniors in Vinita’s temple have come to understand hospice as a healthcare option for end of life.
Five Wishes, is a living will document that helps individuals plan for end-of-life care, has been a useful tool for Vinita to use in educating the community. The useful document comes in various different languages. Samaritan will help you get started with a FREE copy of Five Wishes.
Empowering and educating others on the benefits of advanced care planning and healthcare options is a passion for Vinita. Witnessing how disagreements over end-of-life care can fracture families after a loss exemplifies to her why these tough conversations are crucial.
She believes that having these tough conversation can help ease the pain when families know that they are making the decision their loved one would choose.
Having timely conversations about healthcare options is important. Use our free resource to help start the conversation with those you love. Click Here >> Free Timely Conversations Tools
Beginning that education at home, she has made sure that her family is well aware of all the healthcare options she would explore, the care she wants and doesn’t want, and what religious traditions she wishes to be carried out on her behalf after she has passed.
“Make it light-hearted,” says Vinita about advanced care planning. Vinita’s family is well aware of how she wishes to be cared for. Vinita filled out her advanced care planning documents and made sure her husband and her daughter know exactly what her wishes are. They even know where she would like her ashes scattered. For Hindus death is a celebration, a chance at rebirth getting closer to or achieving moksha. She recommends viewing end-of-life planning as an opportunity to plan that celebration with a loved one while they are still with you.
“It is my own selfish desire to feel joy by giving to others,” says Vinita on why she volunteers. Vinita, in addition to her senior-education initiative, also takes the time to volunteer at cancer relays, and serves on Samaritan’s Community Advisory Council
Samaritan is always in need of caring spirits like Vinita. Individuals who want to put love into their communities. There are many diverse communities that could benefit from hospice care education and realize the opportunity for comfortable and dignified care at the end of life.
Samaritan wants to help each and every community that we can. If you recognize a need in your community for education on end-of-life care options, please reach out to Samaritan. Never underestimate the positive ripple effect that can occur when one person decides to serve.