157481 Migration and adaptation of Sierra Leonean refugees and immigrants in Memphis, Tennessee

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 9:06 AM

Mohamed Kanu, PhD, MPH, MA , Health Administration and Health Sciences, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
Study purpose Following the outbreak of a brutal war that lasted for over ten years in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, many of its citizens involuntarily moved to different parts of the world, including the United States. These “displaced” individuals and families have joined other immigrants from Sierra Leone who had moved to the U.S. for other reasons. While in the U.S., they often face the same challenges related to adaptation. This paper describes how these immigrants/refugees have established and used social capital to ease the challenges faced in their new environment. Methods A semi-structured questionnaire containing 10 items was distributed to 5 randomly selected heads of families with immigrant status and another 5 with refugee status. The questions focused on issues ranging from difficulties faced in the relocation process to challenges of acclimating to the new environment. Findings Main study findings included complaints of culture shock, emotional, psychological and economic difficulties, as well as difficulty in accessing heath services in a totally different social and political system. Key strategies to deal with these challenges included support from family members, friends, churches, mosque congregations, and the Sierra Leone community organization. Recommendations Most of the study participants agreed that family networks, community organizations and places of worship provided the most immediate support during times of difficulty. It is, therefore, important that faith-based institutions and ethnic organizations be included in providing services for future immigrants and refugees.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the presentation, participants will: 1. Recognize the distinction between immigrants and refugees 2. Be able to describe the strategies that refugees/immigrants use to adapt to new environments 3. Be able to discuss how the concept of social capital applies to refugees and immigrants in the relocation process

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.