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Giving Young Females a Voice: Perspectives of Somali Bantu Refugees Participating in a Wellness and Leadership Development Program

Vigil, Stefanie F (2011) Giving Young Females a Voice: Perspectives of Somali Bantu Refugees Participating in a Wellness and Leadership Development Program. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Health effects of migration are determined by the conditions under which the migration occurred, the extent of integration into the host country, the social status of women in the host country and the health conditions in the host country. Women who are displaced as a result of a crisis such as war carry the responsibility to ensure their children obtain the bare necessities such as food, water, and shelter, typically with very little means of income. Severe life-threatening trauma and a post-migration life with stressful events such as unemployment and lack of social contacts are important factors in the long-term health of traumatized refugees. Social supports have long been seen as a central component in the migration movement by informing people where to resettle and by shaping relations between homeland and host societies. Optimal health is predicted by the strength and characteristics of a refugee's social ties. The likelihood of a health program to succeed increases based on participants' involvement in the planning and development of the health program. Barriers for refugees to participate in health programs can include financial constraints, family events, language, lack of transportation and childcare. The Somali Bantus are a minority group within Somalia, descendants of slaves brought to Somalia 200 years ago. Approximately 14,000 Somali refugees have entered the U.S. during a resettlement program. In 2004, Catholic Charities moved 184 Somali Bantus to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Healthy Girls Circle (HGC) based at Magee Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, was designed to empower Somali Bantu teen girls and young women by developing their leadership skills and increasing their knowledge of health and wellness. A secondary data analysis of qualitative interview data was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives of the Somali Bantu refugees participating in HGC. Motivational factors and barriers to participation were identified as social support, household responsibilities, as well as a desire to gain knowledge and skills regarding exercise, nutrition and job preparation. This research is significant to public health because of the recognition of taking a holistic approach in program development that addresses female Somali Bantu refugee health care needs and leadership development. In addition, it fills the gap in the literature by identifying motivations for young women to attend health programs.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vigil, Stefanie
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTerry, Martha Amaterry@pitt.eduMATERRY
Committee MemberConner, Kyaien
Committee MemberCoghill, Lynn Elcpitt@pitt.eduLCPITT
Committee MemberAlbert, Steven Msmalbert@pitt.eduSMALBERT
Date: 29 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 March 2011
Approval Date: 29 June 2011
Submission Date: 4 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: motivational factors; social support; secondary data analysis; trauma
Other ID:, etd-04042011-134432
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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