202324 Role of Burundian Community Health Workers in family stabilization, education and referrals: An important link in a community safety net

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:00 AM

Denise Bates, PhD, RRT, CHES , Department of Health Studies, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX
Allison Anders, PhD , Department of Instructional Technology, Health and Cultural Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Amy K. Richardson, BS , Department of Nutrition, Programs in Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
Extensive effort has been implemented by the University of Tennessee in response to this preliminary data collected on the Burundian population in this area. The Burundians who have been resettled in this community have severe limitations causing barriers to successful integration and stabilization. Very few have basic English proficiency skills to navigate well in their environments, and many are illiterate in their own language of Kirundi, therefore the translation of materials is useless. The Burundians were interviewed in focus groups in 2008-2009. Noted in the interviews was their “deep sadness”. Over half of those interviewed stated that they would like to return refugee camps, even if there is war, because they know how to live in the camps. They cannot live and care for their families in the U.S. Also noted was the number of health issues they identified such as aches and pains, headaches, old injuries that have never healed, and “bad thoughts” (memories). Within the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of domestic violence and abuse cases attributed to alcohol among Burundians.

The Healing Transitions project at the University of Tennessee is a multi-disciplinary community based participatory research project involving 12 students in service learning. The project developed a community collaboration to train 12 Burundian refugees to act as Community Health Workers (CHW) to interface with a newly established interdisciplinary community safety net. The results of a community based CHW training program will be presented as well as the remarkable challenges and successes.

Learning Objectives:
1.To discuss the importance of promoting Community Health Workers/liaisons in refugee communities. 2. To describe the training and curriculum development for a Community Health Worker program for Burundian refugees. 3. To demonstrate the importance of developing agency and social capacity in a Burundian refugee population. 4. To discuss the successes and challenges of an intensive training for Burundian Community Health Workers.

Keywords: Community Health Promoters, Refugees

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Denise Bates is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee and centers her research around health care and education access for under-served people in the nation. Her work over the last 14 years has been predominately with refugees and immigrants, studying assimilation to dominate culture and the related and resulting health risks experienced by these groups of people, particularly in youth. Most of her work has been in community capacity building, community based research, health policy and developing social networks for community success.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.