Our Refugee Health Unit team attended the Annual Muslim Day at the Capitol in Sacramento on May 22nd, 2023. This was a valuable opportunity for us to provide the Governor’s Office with an update on our state-funded initiatives – Afghan Refugee Social Impact (ARSI) and Afghan Youth Mentoring (AYM). Our Project Officer, Reba Meigs, a respected figure in the field, was honored to lead the program update and share significant findings with key members of the Governor’s team which included: Gina DaSilva, Senior Policy Advisor on Immigrant Relations; Mary Hernandez, Chief Deputy Legislative Secretary at the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency; and Nichole Munoz Murillo, Deputy Legislative Secretary for Education.
Our ARSI/AYM Program, co-created by a dedicated and versatile team, involves regional leads covering Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, and Sacramento/Central California; our partners from CAIR California, United Women of East Africa (UWEAST) representing San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition (SDRCC), and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS); along with Nash and Associates, the program strategy and operations consulting group. The update encapsulated the voice of the community, program learnings, and progress so far from this transformative model. Key aspects discussed included the origins of the SDRCC coalition structure, the importance of tailoring our model to meet community needs, the appreciation for the substantial federal grant funding from CDSS, the challenges faced by Ethnic Community-based Organizations (ECBOs) in handling a cost reimbursement model, and the creation of a Communities of Practice (CoP) training model. Our ARSI/AYM sub-awardees have already served over 100 families and 200 youth since our launch in Spring 2023. The array of services include: academic tutoring, culturally-appropriate recreational activities, distribution of critical resources, workshops on understanding rights and positive parenting, case management, youth and community engagement, emergency relief, health education, English language support, social and cultural services, and youth empowerment.
By the program’s end, we aim to serve a significantly larger number of families and youth across the Afghan refugee community. We’re looking forward to developing our toolkit and showcasing the outcomes and impacts of our work. By supporting youth and families with a compassionate and culturally appropriate transition into the country, we reaffirm our commitment to a more inclusive, diverse, and supportive California.