Somali Bantu Refugee Resettlement:
From Kakuma to Atlanta
(2003-2005)

Medical Issues

Working with refugees can mean spending a lot of time at the hospital or emergency room. Many of the refugees have health care issues upon arrival after years (an entire lifetime for the children) of malnutrition and access to only basic medical care.

In the refugee camp, healthcare was addressed as best as possible by NGO clinics run by non-profits like IRC as well as volunteers visiting through Doctors Without Borders and other programs.

After arrival, refugees receive a medical check at the local health department. This inevitably led to a lot of referrals and even ER visits in many cases since the kids were initially malnoursed.


There was a learning curve for everyone. I remember having to intervene and explain a bit of biology when one parent became quite distraught as it seemed to him the medical staff were draining way too much blood from his little one. I also had to explain to doctors that some things we consider common knowledge here may not be for people from a different background. Despite some initial fears from unfamiliarity with medical practices, the Somali Bantu were glad to know that they and their families could be made healthy.

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