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| Wednesday, November 01, 2000 - 06:49 am |
I think this should be example for us(men). Somali woman have been taking active role in our society. Please read pass-on the following.
Amal Yusuf keeps running out of room. The founder and director of the Somalian Women's Association (SWA) has moved three times in the past year in search of bigger office space. She's finally ended up at 2101 Hennepin Ave. S. in Minneapolis.
Yusuf founded SWA in 1996 to strengthen the capacity of Somalian women to survive in their new country. At the beginning of last year, Yusuf was SWA's only staff member. Helped by volunteers, she offered immigration assistance and advocacy, English, math and computer skills, employment services, counseling services and housing assistance to Somali women and their families.
Now Yusuf has a little more help. Her staff of eight served over 300 families last year, started several new programs and is in the process of raising $950,000 for a new building that will meet SWA clients' diverse needs.
One of those needs is child care. "If women don't have daycare for their children, they can't get a job. Without a job, they don't have money. They're stuck," Yusuf explained.
Attempting to break that cycle, SWA launched a culturally competent child care program last October at Eden Lake Elementary School in Eden Prairie, funded by the Otto Bremer Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Somali children are cared for by Somali women while their parents are taking evening classes. Daycare providers use a specially designed curriculum to instruct children in both Somali and English, attempting to keep Somali culture alive. Over 30 families are currently enrolled in the program, with more on the waiting list.
While some Somali women are busy trying to put their new lives in order, others are struggling to heal from their past. More and more women coming to the United States have experienced sexual assault in their homeland, Yusuf said. Cold weather is forcing women living in Kenyan refugee camps to search for firewood in the jungle, where they are often raped. Other women living in the city illegally are being taken advantage of by soldiers who threaten to send them to jail if they don't obey.
To help these women heal from their trauma, SWA recently teamed up with the Sexual Violence Center to train counselors about the complexities surrounding rape in Somali religion and culture. SWA will also hold discussions in the wider community to educate others about those issues. It hopes to create a support system that respects Somali women's particular issues.
If the past is any indicator of the future, Somalis and other refugees will continue to flee devastated homelands for the relative peace of the United States. They will struggle to understand a new language, new customs and a host of other differences. They will need people like Amal Yusuf to help make their transition a little smoother. And SWA will continue to need bigger space.
| Friday, March 30, 2001 - 04:20 am |
great job,,, well done. I hope all work together to help those who need us.