Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment – Information Guide

Congolese refugees have fled repeatedly over the last 15 years as various rebel groups have added to the unrest. As of January 2013, UNHCR reported over 509,000 Congolese refugees and 56,000 asylum seekers residing outside the country and approximately 2.6 million internally displaced people. Congolese refugees are not new to the US. About 13,000 Congolese have been resettled since 2001 with 65% of arrivals coming in the last four years.

This Information Guide offers some background and practical considerations for preparing for Congolese arrivals. In addition, this information guide offers a one page guide to a trauma informed and culturally syntonic approach to service provision, which assists in de-stigmatizing the Congolese and strengthens your role in helping them to become better contributing and functioning members of the community.

This Information Guide was based on the webinar, Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment, which was originally hosted by NPCT on December 11, 2013.

Download the Information Guide – Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment.

View the webinar.

Download a PDF of the PowerPoint slides here.

 

Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicides can occur in every community, culture, and country. However, the suicide rate for Bhutanese refugees resettling in the U.S. is nearly three times as high as the average suicide rate in the U.S. according to the International Organization for Migration. In addition, suicide has become an epidemic, especially among youth in Bhutan. The Royal Bhutan Police reported that from 2010 to October 2013, 293 suicides were reported.

Among refugee populations resettled in the U.S., the sense of loss from leaving one’s family and culture, coupled with language learning and employment difficulties can further one’s sense of hopelessness. In addition, the feeling of inadequacy stemming from an inability to provide for one’s family, lessened social support, family and community conflict after resettlement, worries about family in the home country, and difficulty retaining ones cultural and religious beliefs and traditions are also risk factors.

As social service providers, we can effectively assist our clients by educating ourselves on the warning signs, knowing how and when to refer, introducing families to social and education opportunities, and ensuring that clients have someone to help with the resettlement process and the myriad of changes along the way.

In an effort to combat the rising suicide rate among the Bhutanese population in the U.S., the National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to offer the following resources on suicide prevention.

Webinars:

Impact of NPCT TA’s work with mainstream providers: North Carolina to Offer Mental Health Screenings to Incoming Refugees

The National Partnership for Community Training (NPCT) is pleased to report on an NPCT E-learning project developed by course participant, Josh Hinson, a clinical instructor at the School of Social Work and program director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Transmigration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NPCT facilitates e-learning courses to increase the awareness and ability of mainstream providers to identify and serve refugees who have suffered severe trauma and torture.

After realizing the need for increased refugee mental health screenings upon arrival into the host country, Hinson responded by partnering with Church World Service resettlement staff in Durham, North Carolina to develop a screening procedure. The project will institute a method to identify severe mental health distress in newly arriving refugees and thereby develop a system of care for refugee mental health, including screening and referral to peer support groups, individual therapy, or community-based psychiatric care as appropriate.

Resettlement staff at Church World Service affiliate office CWS-RDU Immigration and Refugee Program will refer clients to Hinson’s project staff who are Masters of Social Work students for an intake screening using the RHS-15. Community Resource Coordinator at CWS-RDU, Kelly Cohen-Mazurowski, is thrilled to be able to offer mental health screenings to newly arrived refugee clients. In the past, clients were apprehensive about seeing a mental healthcare provider; however, now that clients have the opportunity to be screened in their homes with an interpreter present, there is a lot more openness to receiving mental health services. Cohen-Mazurowski explains “that many of the clients have received multiple home visits from Josh and his students and that they appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences and to have help in adjusting to life here in the United States”.

The project will use a three-tiered response system: refugees whose screening is below the RHS-15 cutoff will be offered the opportunity to participate in peer support groups; refugees above the cutoff will be offered individual and/or family therapy, and will be assessed for appropriateness for group sessions; refugees whose bio-psycho-social assessment indicates severe mental illness will be offered psychiatric case management and will be assessed for appropriateness for group and individual/family therapy. MSW students who are in clinical training will select and provide the most culturally appropriate, evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment modalities to provide individual, family, and group treatment and/or case management.

Beth Farmer of Pathways to Wellness at Lutheran Community Services Northwest will be contracted for consultation regarding use of the RHS-15. In addition, Hinson’s project will utilize the Health Promotion and Wellness Format, developed by Dr. Richard Mollica and Jim Lavelle at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, as well as Pathways to Wellness’ Community Adjustment Support Group Curriculum.

Hinson attributes NPCT’s E-learning course to providing the opportunity to be immersed in theory and research on best practices with refugee survivors of torture and trauma. In addition, the E-learning course gave him the networking “opportunity to partner with a local refugee resettlement organization and planted the seeds for our current refugee mental health initiative.” NPCT wishes Josh and his students continued success.

NPCT can help your city/state develop similar tools to help refugees who have experienced severe trauma and torture. Please contact us to be a part of the growing network of cities that are working effectively with survivors of torture through the technical assistance provided by NPCT.

Congolese Success Stories

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present some recent success stories of Congolese refugees.

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Micro-enterprise Program

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Microenterprise ProgramCharlotte, a refugee originally from the Congo, is a skilled and trained tailor with more than twenty years experience in the tailoring business in Ethiopia and Congo. She also worked as a  teacher for a United Nations (UN) Sewing Project for Women in Ethiopia. Charlotte was resettled by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Tucson, Arizona in 2008 with her husband and four children. -excerpt taken from ORR

 

 

 

Providing for a Family of Seven

New Licensed Provider:  Violette Kalambayi

Violette is a  refugee who arrived in the United States from the Congo.  Violette is one of our most outgoing and expressive clients to date.  As a Certified Nursing Assistant, starting her own home-based childcare business was a natural fit.  Violette completed many hours of child care business training and passed all county, health and safety inspections perfectly.  She now boasts three enrolled children. – excerpt taken from ORR


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video address: Fidel Nshombo

“I am blessed as a refugee. Blessed as a citizen and I am blessed as a human being and even better I am blessed that I have been given the opportunity to come here after 15 years of tribulations and explore and extend my opportunities. But more better than that I have been blessed to be put in a neighborhood, in a city, where they support me from the bottom up, Boise, ID. From the street vendors who come and listen to me speak my poetry for hours to the governor who invites me to the big conferences. So I want to tell you this; the mayor has given me a space to help refugees, so I want you guys to go in your neighborhood, find the problems that refugees are facing, even though there is no funding, there is no money through agencies to support those programs. Be a volunteer and start that program on your own. Help those people and later if funding will ever be, it will be better, but don’t wait for money to help. Thank you and God bless you.” – Fidel – excerpt taken from ORR

 

And the winner of the Nansen Refugee Award, Sister Angélique Namaika

Sister Angélique Namaika, a 46-year-old Congolese Roman Catholic nun who has been working with displaced women and girls for a decade in the remote town of Dungu, in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Sister Angélique assists displaced women and girls who have been forced from their homes by armed groups – including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – and helps them to pick up the pieces of their lives.

UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

The Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and The Florida Holocaust Museum
cordially invites you to the Tampa Bay premiere of the documentary
Beneath the Blindfold on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 at 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Click for more information on “Beneath the Blindfold” or to download the flyer

Beneath the Blindfold

Refugee client receives $2,500 as part of Department of Children and Families “Operation Santa Cause’ helping her and her family move after the holidays

AFGHANISTAN

26 June Global Report Featuring FSCT

Click here to read the Global Report on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture which provides information about the activities that take place worldwide in connection with this June 26th event. FCST is featured on Page 40.

COLOMBIA

Raising Awareness of the Refugee Experience

When we think about trauma, it’s difficult to imagine the scope of what Pittsburgh’s refugee community has been through. These individuals and families have fled their homes from fear of persecution, imprisonment or death simply because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Many have faced unspeakable and unimaginable acts of torture and trauma. Some enter the United States with little or no education or English, and some have spent their entire lives in refugee camps. Our refugees’ stories can truly make us feel grateful for our freedoms.

Read More