Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August 9- Twin Cities Organizations

Since I haven’t received email or phone responses from the Somali organizations in the Twin Cities, I have decided to go to them. I didn’t take it personally that they didn’t talk to me because I understand the culture and what the refugees have been through. I asked a Somali friend of mine to come with me so that the organizations would feel more comfortable talking to me.

We first went to the Confederation of Somali Community in MN. I felt like they tried to ignore me. My friend got them to talk to me, and the director was very reluctant at first. Once I told him that my dream was prevent human right violations and have no need for human right services for those who are violated, he was more talkative. They provide many services at the Confederation. Social services, community education, youth services, health education, trauma/war services, cultural events, quitting smoking, and alliances with immigrant organizations, are just a few.

When we left my friend told me that the director originally said he was busy and didn’t have time to see me. My friend pushed him on it, and then he agreed to see me. I told my friend that I wasn’t offended. I know about the struggles that Somalis have gone through and the trust violations they’ve experienced.

We then drove all over Minneapolis trying to find Somali Women in Minneapolis and Somali Benadiri Community of MN. We could not find them, nor did they answer their phones to give us directions. We found Somali Mai Community of MN, but it wasn’t open, even though the hours of operation were 8-5. We went back three different times and it was never open. We did notice the posters hung up and that family reunification seems to be a focus of theirs.

I asked my friend how these places are supposed to help people when they aren’t open, can’t be found, and don’t answer their phones or emails. He said that the Confederation is the only legitimate organization that helps people. He said that the others are money makers.

We went to Karmel Mall and the restaurant previously visited. My friend commented about how much I love Somali food, but I had to respond that I just started a diet and that Somali food is full of grease and bad things for me. I had two bites to satisfy my cravings, and then returned to my salad. When we went in we met a friend we were meeting. I waited by the door to go the women’s side when one of them said I could sit over by the men. One, I didn’t want to disrespect the rules, but two, I received so many looks walking in that I didn’t want to see the results of me sitting on the men’s side. We went to the Mall for a brief period of time before I had to leave. I am disappointed in myself for feeling this way, but I asked my friend to walk me to my vehicle because I didn’t think I take too many more stares. I told him if I was alone that not only would I feel uncomfortable, but so would the people around. I understand the culture, yet I get uncomfortable at the idea of the Somalis being uncomfortable because of me. This is something that I am really trying to working on.


Blogger Atypical somali girl said...

hello, I just stumbled onto your blog. Its really amazing what you are trying to do. I would like to give you one peice of advise about your uncomfort around somalis. I think you have to demand respect from somalis. If they stare its because they are curious not uncomfortable so I wouldn't bother being too cautious about you causing uncomfort to them. Somalis are more likely to be uncomfortable around other somalis than they are likely to be around someone of different origin.

1:41 PM  

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