Our Mission is to strengthen the capacity of Somalis in Minnesota to become contributing members of society, while preserving their culture.
Making a new home in America
The vision of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota’s East African Women’s Center has stayed the same but the primary recipients of our services changed in 2011. Beginning in January, the Women’s Center began a program designed specifically for refugee mothers who have come to the US in the past year. These women have come to Minnesota without “anchor” families or “sponsors” to support them and about 1/3 are single mothers. These women are entirely on their own after the initial three months of support from a resettlement agency.
It’s harder being a refugee now than ever before . . .
. . . says a refugee woman who came to the US 10 years ago. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like to come to the US like these families—especially the women who are coming without husbands. When I came to the US 10 years ago, I thought life was really hard. Ten of us were living in one apartment and we were really poor. But we had family who came before us and prepared for us. We may have been sleeping on the floor but we weren’t in a homeless shelter. My family knew what steps we had to go through and took us to appointments. But probably best of all, there were people who were happy to see us!”
Building a new life and a new community
With the Women’s Center’s 6 - 8 month language learning and orientation/Living in America program, refugee women’s integration process gets a “jumpstart.” Each week, the program includes four 3-hour English classes and a 3-hour Living in America applied learning class. These women’s-only language classes combine learning English with important information about orienting families to American life. While mothers attend classes, their children are participating in early childhood development activities in a quality, culturally sensitive childcare, preparing them to enter school in their new homeland.
In addition, the Women’s Center staff and volunteers become the “anchor” family that “free cases” do not have. Says one member of the Women’s Center community, “Somebody has to help them like our families helped us. Somebody has to be their family—their community.”
Give them your hand
Welcome them and help us help them make the Twin Cities their home. Although the ChildCare Assistance Program (CCAP) covers some of the childcare costs, many mothers are not eligible. In addition, there are educational costs, costs for one-on-one and small group time for problem solving and help with paperwork, gas for the van that transports them to and from class (and a 15-passenger van eats it!), and food for snacks and lessons in healthy eating.
To call the center, please dial 612-332-8402