Turning loss into support for the Brain and Mind Research Institute
Kishori Lal knew that his wife Saroj was slipping away from him the day she got lost coming home on a familiar bus route. She ended up at a stranger’s house, miles from home.
The memory lapses, disorientation and confusion that mark Alzheimer’s disease were robbing him and the couple’s two daughters of the vibrant, community-oriented woman who loved them and her volunteer work at the Hindu temple they attended.
“It was very difficult,” Kishori Lal says simply, sitting in a living room amid pictures of his wife. “It’s a very sad disease for the family.”
Saroj Lal died of the devastating neurological illness earlier this year, at age 72. Determined that other families be spared their suffering, her husband and her two children, Shirin Lal, a doctor, and Mohina Lal, a teacher, created the Saroj and Kishori Lal Family Scholarship.
Interest from their endowment finances annual scholarships for graduate students conducting research into Alzheimer’s disease at the uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute. The family chose to support uOttawa because Shirin Lal graduated from the University’s Faculty of Medicine in 2002.
“Philosophically, I really believe that one should share one’s resources with the community you live in,” says Kishori Lal, an economist who worked for Statistics Canada before he retired. “Canada has been very good to me.”
Today, “more than half a million people in Canada are suffering from dementia,” he points out. “It’s very painful for the family, painful for everybody, and very costly.”
Research is the only hope for reducing that pain and the cost to society, says Lal, who hopes that within a decade scientists will develop a treatment for Alzheimer’s. For now, the Lals hope supporting researchers will drive progress on the disease forward.
“Mine is a small contribution. It’s very satisfying when you see you are doing something useful. It helps you psychologically and morally,” he says.
Lal is comforted because he knows Saroj would support the fund that bears her name.
“She would definitely approve of this,” he says.