222763 “Can we ever sleep in peace?”: Resettlement experiences of Burundian Refugees in an East Tennessee Community

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Denise Bates, PhD, RRT, CHES , Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Frances Palin, PhD , Clinical Psychology, Cherokee health Systems, Knoxville, TN
Lacreisha Ejike-King, MS , Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Carolyn R. Spellings, MS , Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
Social, economic, behavioral, and environmental factors interact to influence the health and well-being of individuals worldwide. Research indicates that refugees often experience limited access to health and social services. Even more, many political refugees who experience post migratory adaptation in a foreign country can experience inordinate shortages of most resources that would otherwise be available to them in their countries of origin. Important to assisting in the successful integration of political refugees into a given community is the detection of the resource base to which each person may or may not have access, in addition to the lack of cultural appropriateness of services and treatment, and the limited capacity of resources that address displacement-related psychological stress. During the summer of 2007, a surge of Burundian arrivals stressed an otherwise unprepared systemic infrastructure in TN. System agencies were overloaded with the resource demand necessary to address the unique needs of significant numbers of arriving Burundian families. In order to assess the needs of the local Burundian population, 6 focus groups were conducted between June 2008–February 2009. The Burundians who participated in these focus groups talked at great length about the migration process from Africa to America and their frustrations with the resettlement process. Four themes emerged in the course of these interviews. These themes were: Loss of Family, Inaccessible Resources, the Role of Powerful Others, and Broken Expectations. Each theme will be discussed in detail as well as other persistent social justice themes noted throughout the focus group transcripts.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. To recognize necessary resources for the stable integration of Burundian refugees to a community. 2. To identify the importance of culturally relevant resources to the arrival and adjustment of Burundian refugees. 3. To discuss pervasive themes for Burundian refugees interviewed post migration and in the resettlement process.

Keywords: Social Justice, Refugees

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Bates 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 their integration 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.