You’d think language barriers would be the one of the biggest challenges for a refugee resettlement case manager. They work closely with people from all over the world, people who speak many different languages and English often isn’t one of them. But as far as Marla Sell is concerned, kindness is a universal language that has allowed her to communicate with those in need for 14 years.
By Peggy Fulda, Social Worker/Case Manager, Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative
In honor of January’s Mental Health Awareness month, we thought it would be pertinent to showcase some of the important work we are doing as part of Philadelphia’s Refugee Mental Health Collaborative (PRMHC.) In many ways, mental health and wellness is the perfect frame with which to celebrate our holistic approach to community mental health work. In our work with refugee families, we work towards mental health by supporting emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Our work supports refugee mental health and draws on each of these dimensions.
We are excited to announce that on Friday, November 22, Liberty’s Lutheran Refugee Services in Central PA will be participating in the Extraordinary Give, Lancaster County’s Largest Day of Giving. On this day, every dollar you donate will be matched by a percentage of the $250,000 available from the Lancaster County Community Foundation! In other words, each donation received will increase our share of this bonus, which in turn will help support additional refugees in the Lancaster community.
The small storefront on South 7th street in South Philly doesn’t look like much on the outside, but inside it’s a different story. The walls are covered in photos, paintings and drawings. The colors are bold and bright. The main room is filled with people socializing, enjoying a mild spring afternoon together. Children are laughing and playing. This is the home of the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative (PRMHC) – ground zero for a group of resettlement agencies, mental health providers, physicians and arts organizations that are working to link refugees to culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health care. The PRMHC is led by Liberty’s Lutheran Children and Family Service and uses therapy, support groups and arts projects to help families process past exposure to violence and current resettlement stresses. It is a lifeline for refugees who are starting over, after surviving unimaginable trauma in their home countries.
On Friday, May 3rd, dozens of families of Burmese and Bhutanese decent packed the small storefront for a modest but lively celebration. It featured many delicious dishes that are popular in the Burmese and Bhutanese cultures, as well as some classic American foods. Continue reading →
Students of all ages and ethnicities sat around two large tables, reading in pairs or groups, and working diligently on worksheets. Everyone in the room came from different countries and backgrounds, but they were all there for the same reason, to learn English. For many of the students, this was their first classroom experience.