Promoting Collective Recovery in an Immigrant/Refugee Community Following Massive Trauma
The case study describes a collaborative project with Liberian refugees and immigrants living in the Park Hill neighborhood of Staten Island that addressed their psychological and social needs through a collective approach. Rather than focusing on a case-by-case basis to address the traumas of war and displacement, the project identified and supported change agents from within the community who were able to mobilize participants to engage in constructive activities on a number of levels – from creating a consortium of helping organizations, strengthening the capacities of volunteers to assist those in need, and generating a number of cultural, artistic, and social projects that promoted greater social cohesion, public engagement, and access to resources.
This case study presents an approach to some of the challenges faced by any refugee group struggling to make a new home in a host country – dealing with the stresses of finding adequate housing, employment, and health services. It also shows how the project approached the structural factors of racism, poverty, and local violence that were leading to community fragmentation and conflict and severely challenging their collective resilience. We present what we learned in our work with the Liberian community that may be applicable to similar situations around the world.
KeywordsCommunity resilience Collective trauma Liberian immigrants Refugee mental health Community engagement
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