Somalia Horn of Africa, bordering Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and the Gulf of Aden 6.66 million population 75% of population are farmers or raise camels, cattle, sheep or goats. Hot, dry climate with brief rainy seasons Capital: Mogadishu Religion: Muslim
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Mogadishu was a beautiful, quiet town before the war. Somalis were respectful and kind. Now, everything is different. Life seems to have lost its value; we have become aggressive and do not care about anything.
During the day, it was racket all the time. The constant boom-boom-boom of guns in and out. You didn’t go out for vegetables or rice. You didn’t want to get shot. But at night, you didn’t sleep either. It was quiet at night, but scary because someone might just come up and slit your throat. They’d kill you and all your children and take everything. We had to take different night watches to sleep and protect ourselves, but if it was your turn to sleep, worry kept you awake.
We walked to the Somali-Kenyan border from Mogadishu and when we arrived in Mandera, Kenya, we just wanted food. People stared at us and started to try to sell us things. We just wanted food. Then we had to take a four-day trip to Nairobi on a lori truck. Half of the lori was goats and the other half was people and children. I remember them saying that certain areas were dangerous and we had to be quiet and get low and sit as close as possible. There I was, with my nine children, separated from my husband leaving a good life behind for what?
City of Portland population: ~ 600,000
National Language: English
Demographics: The racial makeup of the city is 77.91% White, 6.64% African American, 6.33% Asian, 1.06% Native American, 0.38% Pacific Islander, 3.55% from other races, and 4.15% from two or more races. 6.81% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race
Climate: The city has mild wet winters, and warm, dry summers. 155 days with measurable precipitation.
Religion: Christianity is the stated religious preference of about 75 to 79% of Oregonians. About 17% call themselves "nonreligious", 1.2% agnostic, and less than 1% each for Buddhists, Jews, Unitarian-Universalists
Resettlement Characteristics: employment opportunities at entry level, low cost of living and its traditionally welcoming atmosphere.
Somali Refugee ~ First Arrival Dates: 1975
Number of Somali Refugees (ORR): 475, expecting 300 Somali Bantu (2005)
Number of refugees/immigrants, Somali: ~3,400
“most likely the most valid because these are the people that are truly a part of this culture and word of mouth is how the real numbers are gained”
Number of African Refugees (ORR): ~ 11,000
“ Though the Bantus, have lived a life of persecution in a primitive setting, they are highly adaptive people who will quickly learn to cope with modern life. What makes me sad is those who say they are incapable because they don’t know how to flush. It’s easy to show someone how to do those things. They may not be entirely sophisticated in modern ways, but they are not coming from a cave.”
“They are known as the hardest workers in Somali society, and the women work even harder than men. The most difficult adjustment will be the loss of the Bantus’ communal village structure. In Somalia, it is almost literally true that the whole village raises the child.”
“In Somalia, you wore sandals, and if your sandals broke, you fixed them. In the United States, you have to wear sneakers, and other students make fun of you if you don’t have the right kind of sneakers.”
“Somalis do not seek treatment unless they are chronically ill.”
“You take care of things as they come up.”
“You do not need to visit the doctor unless you are sick”
Somali women tend to be frustrated with the amount of waiting time involved in visiting clinics and scheduling appointments. Their frustration mounted when appointments could not be made on the same day they were sick and were often two or three weeks away. Many of the women agreed that they have a frustration with the health care system here because you have to call to make an appointment when you are sick, but they don’t have any appointments, stating:
“How can I get help from a doctor if I am sick when I wake up, and then no one will see me? They tell me I have to wait two to three weeks.”
“Yes, if you are sick, then the doctor should see you. But, here they tell you to wait.”
“Somali culture doesn’t think about tomorrow. They operate in today. You take care of things as they come up. You do not need to visit the doctor unless you are sick. This is one of the reasons Somalis are prevented from seeking preventive treatment.”
Community members experience large amounts of frustration because they expect solutions today and will forgo prevention and treatment tomorrow if they wake up feeling healthy. This also impacts the health education and training, as most individuals will not change their behavior if they, literally, can not understand the future impact of that change.
The Somali culture is approximately 90 percent Muslims, and “any illness that (Somali people) suffer, they believe it is coming from the higher power of Allah.”
~ “Some people go to religious clerics seeking cures here as a way to stay connected to the higher power that can heal them.”
~ “We can’t control our illnesses.”
~ Several Somali community activists and health workers stated that this belief hinders their ability to create change and solve health problems. They agreed that religion plays a vital role and accept the role of God/Allah in illness.
“It's Not Just a Food Fast”
(These guidelines are only for healthy individuals, however one should decide their state.)