Cultural Orientation Dadaab Refugee Camps Dadaab, Kenya Robinson Cook
In January of 2009, I spent one week observing the cultural orientation classes for refugees in Dadaab Kenya before their resettlement to the United States. This presentation only represents what I experienced along the way. I simply recorded and photographed what I saw, heard and touched. I am now sharing it with friends and colleagues to help unhinge the misperceptions people have about refugees who come from East Africa and in particular, Somalia. In the end I hope anyone who views this presentation can appreciate what refugees have gone through just to come to the U.S.. I hope you share in the hopes and dreams of your future neighbors, co-workers, and friends.
What Do You Know About Somalia? What Do You Know About The Dadaab Refugee Camps?
1960 – Somali independence from Italy and merger with British Somaliland 1960 - Adan Adulle Osman elected as President 1967 - Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke elected as 2 nd president and 1969 - Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke assassinated by his bodyguard in 1969. 1969 - General Mohamed Said Barre took over during a bloodless coup. History Mogadishu
Conflict In Somalia Taxi that runs between the refugee camps. 1991 - Said Barre was ousted by a Northern and Southern clan based force called the USC lead by Military leader General Mohamed Farah AIdid and Abdirahman Tura 1996 - Mohamed Farrah Aidid was killed in Mogadishu. Since 1991 there have been fourteen efforts at national reconciliation. 2009 - Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed elected President The basis of most of the conflicts was clan allegiances and competition for resources between the warring clans.
Some recent major players in Somalia include:
Islamic Courts Union (ICU)
U.S. Backed Ethiopian Forces
Puntland Regional Authority
Republic of Somaliland
Transitional Federal Government
2009 - Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed - President
Today The civil war disrupted agriculture and food distribution in southern Somalia.
Ethnicities - Somali 85%, Bantu and other
non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)
Religion – Primarily Sunni Muslim
Languages – Somali (official), Arab, English, Italian.
Natural Resources - Uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, likely oil reserves
People and Culture Somali Refugee entering UNHCR Compound for her initial resettlement interview
were built in 1991 to host 90,000 refugees. Today, The camps cover a total area of 50 square km and are within an 18 km radius of one another to host more than 230,000 refugees.
The Three Dadaab Refugee Camps Marquee at the entrance to IFO refugee camp
Somali Ethiopian Congolese
Dadaab Ethnic Groups Retelling of persecution story by Somali refugee.
The continuing conflict in Somalia has led to a steady inflow of refugees over the subsequent years with no sign of easing up.
More than 60,000 Somalis crossed into Kenya in 2008.
Most come from Mogadishu and the Lower Juba regions of Kismayo, Jamame and Afmadow.
Dadaab is also a division in the Garissa District , which suffered a severe drought for almost four years.
Dadaab is approximately 40 kilometers (26 miles) from the Somali border.
Landscapes Dry landscape in the Garissa district of Kenya. Landscapes
UNHCR - Referral and case creation
OPE - Pre-screen & case verification
USCIS - Resettlement interview & decision
IOM - Medical examination
OPE - Cultural orientation
IOM - Travel to U.S. 5 ports of entry
Voluntary Agency - Resettlement in U.S.
Refugee Timeline Individuals being interviewed by JVA Kenya
UNHCR – United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Large groups of compelling concern: The Lost Boys of
NGO (Non-Government Organization)
A family member in the U.S.
Affidavit of Relationship (AOR)
UNHCR Morning role call – Hagadera. 1. Referral from one of the following:
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
Refugee referred to U.S. Overseas Processing Entity (OPE)
UNHCR case creation. 2. Case Creation
JVA Kenya morning role call.
Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) – JVA Kenya
Refugee Referred to USCIS
*They are verifying all of the data presented by the referring agency, qualifying the refugee and clarifying any gaps in the persecution story.
Refugee interview area.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS Interviews refugee and takes one of the following actions:
Approves case for resettlement
Denies case for resettlement
Puts case on hold or pending
4. USCIS Interview
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Preparations for travel logistics to U.S.
5. Medical Examinations IOM medical examination area
Joint Voluntary Agency (JVA) Kenya
Cultural Orientation to those refugees coming to the U.S.
U.S. culture, people, government and history
Values and beliefs
Travel to U.S.
Info on resettlement agencies and community services in the U.S.
Cultural Orientation class. 6. Cultural Orientation
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Transportation to transit center
Flight to U.S.
Accompany refugee to 5 ports of entry: New York, Newark, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles and to connecting flight for final destination.
Refugees on their way to transit center in Nairobi. 7. Travel to the U.S.
JVA Kenya Cultural Orientation Staff - Nairobi Kenya
18-30 Class size
3 Days long
6 hours of instruction per day
1 trainer per class
Coordination with UNHCR, IOM, JVA Operations and USCIS
Curriculum developed with the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
Quick Facts About Cultural Orientation Cultural orientation class in IFO
What is the purpose of cultural orientation for refugees in the United States? To prepare for life in the U.S. and help minimize culture shock.
Who funds U.S. Cultural Orientation? The U.S. State Department. In East Africa, cultural orientation is carried out by the Joint Voluntary Agency (Overseas Processing Entity).
When is Cultural Orientation provided? After Refugees have been approved for resettlement to the U.S. by The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Cultural Orientation trainers meet before traveling to Dadaab. About Cultural Orientation
CO trainers preparing for the first day of class tomorrow
CO trainers meet with locally hired interpreters to go over the lesson plan.
United States Overview
Rights and Responsibilities
Topics Addressed in Cultural Orientation A sign leading to the classrooms in the refugee camp.
Amina – Cultural Orientation morning role call.
Amina – Cultural Orientation morning role call.
Cultural Orientation class list.
“ What do you know about the U.S.?”
“ What do you fear about the U.S. ?”
Not getting there (the plane has problems)
Not Getting Jobs
The whites taking family members
Dogs guard old people; if they leave the old people get lost (reference to seeing eye dogs)
Amina explains how transportation operates in America
Amina explaining the difference between the public and private health care systems.
Amina stops the video to explain that you actually sit on a toilet as opposed to squatting.
Jeff explains the different types of financial assistance available to refugees.
Jeff explains the tenant landlord relationship.
Refugees in cultural orientation class in IFO.
Refugees asking questions about the housing video they just watched.
Visual aids to help explain civil rights, American history, money and identifications.
Refugees learning about travel to the U.S.
Cultural Orientation Discussion About Child Support
Question: What are the good things about Somali culture?
Question: What are the not so good things about Somali culture?
Question: What is good and not so good about Ethiopian (Anywok) culture?
Marry one woman
Men and women are equal and they love each other
Men and women eat together
Not so good:
If you marry and you don’t have the money, the father-in-law will beat you
We knock out the women’s bottom six teeth
Biting people is not good
Answer: Here are the good things about our culture.
We greet strangers when they come to our home.
Somali’s slaughter an animal for a visitor
Respect for old people
Respect between man and woman
Help the disabled and needy
Respect between parents and children
Respect neighbors rights and rights between neighbors
Intermarriage within Somali community brings people together
In Somali culture men have their dress and women have theirs
There is equality among Somali men
There is only one religion
Somali’s don’t steal
In Somali culture people trust each other
Somali’s maintain cleanliness and hygiene
Answer: Here are the not so good things about our culture.
Female Genital Mutilation
Marriage out of wedlock
Women being tortured
Forced divorce between loved couples
Not using child spacing
Child labor especially underage children
Very high dowry demand – 100 camels
Women not given or participating in the inheritance of father’s wealth
Young girls given to old men to marry in order for her family to get wealth from him
Discrimination against the minority and disadvantaged groups in society
Cultural Orientation Classes Life cycle of resettlement emotions for refugees. 2. Resettlement Bliss 4. Depression & Culture Shock 5. Stabilization. 1. Anticipation and excitement 3. Reality of new life in the U.S.
Cultural Orientation Video About Integration and Culture Shock
“ This discussion about the illegality of female genital mutilation in the U.S. is really more of a discussion about different values and how you will handle it when your values are challenged in your new setting.”
“ What will you do when your neighbors are drinking alcohol and barbecuing pork? What will you do when you are not permitted to leave work early to observe Ramadan?”
The inside of an airplane
The inside of an airplane.
You will have an assigned seat throughout the flight.
Here is what your plane ticket will look like.
This is what your meal will look like. The flight attendants will bring it to you.
Congratulations on completing your cultural orientation. You will now travel to the U.S. within one to four weeks from today.
Titus explain traveling to the United States. “Do not open this bag until you reach the U.S.. It has all of your documentation.
Life In The Camps
All registered refugees are eligible for food from the World Food Program WFP
Approximately 200 persons per day
Frequency = Food is rationed to families 2 times a month
Anybody age 18 and above can receive food on behalf of the family; however, it is distributed to the head of the household.
Food is issued based on the size of the family and there are universal distribution standards.
Food is distributed based on the available inventory.
Cornmeal-420g, Vegetable oil-25g, Corn soya blend-55g, Lentils-60g, and Salt-5g
World Food Program storage tent for rationed food items.
World Food program food storage area.
Visual representation of food rations so that everyone knows what they will receive.
One ration of lentils.
One ration of ground nuts.
One ration of corn soya blend.
One ration of salt.
One ration of cooking oil.
Final weigh-out of rations.
Entrance and exit to food distribution.
Post food rationing – IFO.
Camp walk ways.
Children playing in IFO on a Sunday afternoon.
Homes in IFO. IFO mechanic shop. IFO bicycle repair area. Homes in IFO.
Ethiopian children enjoying seeing the instant result on a digital camera