Strengthening Community Resources for Refugees | The Center for Victims of Torture

Strengthening Community Resources for Refugees

December2015 StCloud Training Welcome
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

While news reports have focused on refugees desperately seeking safety and stability in Europe, other refugees who have been resettled are working to integrate into new communities such as St. Cloud, Minnesota. Earlier this winter, CVT facilitated a training and networking session in St. Cloud for professionals who work with refugee communities and for the newcomers themselves.

December2015 StCloud Training Parent DiscussionThe session was part of a project funded by the State of Minnesota to improve the coordination and integration of behavioral health services for refugee populations affected by torture and war trauma who are now living in St. Cloud. The region, just an hour northwest of Minneapolis, is now home to a large Somali population that fled war, torture and persecution.

Andrea Northwood, Ph.D., LP, CVT director of client services, and Amal Hassan, CVT Somali community liaison, welcomed participants to the event. To ensure the community members could fully engage in the session, an interpreter was present to interpret all comments, questions and answers.  

December2015 StCloud Training Panel DiscussionAfter the welcome, the attendees divided into two groups. Ms. Hassan led Somali parents in a discussion of parenting topics and issues. Often, refugee parents struggle while raising their children in a new environment. They must learn to navigate different and unfamiliar societal expectations and opportunities. During the discussion, parents asked questions about unfamiliar situations and learned from each other.

Dr. Northwood spoke about trauma-informed care to educators, social service providers and others who work with the refugee community. She then facilitated a panel discussion of three individuals who arrived in the U.S. as refugees and are now helping newer refugees. The discussion allowed the professional providers to hear firsthand how the refugee experience affects individuals.December2015 StCloud Training SmallGroup

The afternoon included a presentation by a local St. Cloud leader, Jane Ellison, project manager for the Minnesota Thrive Initiative, to share how this project successfully engaged the local refugee community in addressing children’s health. Ms. Ellison emphasized the importance of cultural humility and practical aspects of inclusive community problem solving.

December2015 StCloud Training GoalsFinally, to help build relationships between local providers and community members and to begin to prioritize issues, attendees divided into small groups to discuss what they have learned that they can share with their colleagues or community members, as well as to discuss goals for helping refugees who have experienced trauma and torture build healthy and productive lives in St. Cloud.




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