New Father Initiative Program
The Somali Bantu Community Association of Vermont currently supports a program devoted to helping refugee community fathers in adjusting to living in the United States, specifically in Vermont, and in giving them the support and resources they need to continue being strong and positive role models for their children. With that in mind, the Association provides weekly meetings in which fathers are given the opportunity to voice their concerns about parenting and to explore various themes and questions associated with fatherhood as it relates to the refugee experience in the United States. While the program is devoted to new fathers, it continues to support fathers throughout the year and welcomes return participants.
Knitting Group Project
This project is supported by the Women’s Committee and was developed to create an environment for refugee women to meet and bond over traditional crafts. It has served as one outlet for supporting refugee women in developing friendships and connections with others in similar circumstances.
We are in need of donated sewing and knitting materials to help support our traditional artists -to include sewing machines.
Tabar Women’s Leadership Program
This program is devoted to the needs and concerns of refugee women. The program features job skills training, financial literacy workshops, English literacy classes, career support, support meetings devoted to the challenges facing mothers in the United States, and a mentor network linking Burlington community professionals with aspiring women. The program is overseen by the Women’s Committee and provided for and by women in an effort to create a safe and comfortable environment for growth and development.
Youth Recreational Program
The Association currently supports three soccer teams. These teams are open to young men and young women aged 16-26. The teams play locally in Chittenden County, VT, but have also traveled to surrounding states for competitions, specifically NY, NH, ME, and MA.
Reparative Probation Project
This project works with low-level offenders and their families by providing legal referrals and counseling support. The Project is supported by two committees, the Emergency and Relief Committee and the Problem Solving Committee, each devoted to repairing and addressing the damage caused by crime and conflict both within the Burlington and Somali Bantu communities and within the family.
Community Support Program
This program provides the Somali Bantu community with administrative services, translation and interpretive services, referrals, transportation services, and provides a free computer lab for community use. In addition, this program currently supports the Direct Services Program in which community members work with volunteers to fill out human services paperwork, study for the GED, TOEFL, and Citizenship exams, fill out college applications, and work on summer school homework.
Vital Information Service Project
Because of the socio-economic status of the Somali Bantu in Africa, most have had little to no access to formal education. As such many are increasingly restricted by their lack of education and job skills, as well as their inability to communicate in English. Approximately 95% of all community members (totaling over 600 individuals in Chittenden County alone) are illiterate in English, 90% are illiterate in their native language, Somali Maay Maay. They are consequently relegated to service positions, if employed, with little to no opportunity for upward mobility. The Vital Information Service Project was created to address these needs. As such it provides focussed case management and job skills development workshops to aid individuals in overcoming barriers to employment, educational opportunities, or human services aid.
Community Farming Project
The Community Farming Project was created to help refugee families and individuals gain access to gardening spaces in order to grow and harvest their own food. Gardening provides a vital supplement to their often income-restricted and nutritionally deficient diets. In addition, this project provides a much welcomed opportunity for individuals to bond over traditional lifeways - as many lived in rural areas of Africa prior to resettlement and either grew up on or managed their own family farms.
Adult Literacy Program
As the Somali Bantu community was restricted from accessing many educational resources and opportunities in their native Somalia, many community members have little to no educational background. Most are illiterate in both English and their native language, Somali Maay Maay. As such this program was designed to fill a gap in services and is thus the only program of its type that is both cultural competent in respect to the needs and challenges facing the Somali Bantu refugee community, but also focused on the needs of the preliterate adult learner.
Thank you for your support!