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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday May 27th 2024

Somali Women”'s Health Support Group CHAT

“If you educate a woman, you educate the nation.” – African Proverb

The original plan for the Somali Women”'s Health Support Group CHAT was to promote communication, understanding, and support among women of the Somali community who have children in the judicial system by creating spaces and systems for them to talk, connect and assist each other. The aim was to provide women room to express themselves and to explore ways in which the cultural systems of discipline could be used to avoid the intervention of the US judicial system. The hope was this effort would help to maintain the balance and harmony of the community.

However, after forming the group and receiving special training on how to interface with the prison system, it was discovered by the women that they would not be able to visit the prisons wearing their hijabs or head scarves for the sake of their own safety. By this time though, bonds had formed between the women and they had shared other ways they could increase the health knowledge. This is achieved by: teaching families their culture; empowering community members in grassroots leadership; conducting community education workshops on civic engagement and health issues; preventing tobacco use; and offering parent workshops bringing families together to solve problems and bridge understanding.

With that in mind, we started working with our young girls using an educational approach. We begin with a home visit and help assure the children have an electric sharpener, a quiet place to learn with a studying table. Then we engage the parents in understanding the school system, report cards and healthy lifestyles. Additionally, our group supports post-secondary education by referring participants to SAT and ACT exam preparation courses and college tours. We organize a broad range of learning opportunities with trips to museums, workshops on our cultural heritage, and enrolling in classes at the YWCA. A Somali”'s Women”'s Walking Group has formed at Powderhorn Park where there is still room for more participants! We also have other classes every week for our girls at the Brian Coyle Community Center. The Somali”'s Women”'s Health Support Group CHAT is doing all that we can to prevent loneliness, isolation, depression, school failure, family violence, etc. for our women and girls. To find out more, email

CHAT Members include: Fardowsa Yossuf, Bishare Gardad, Maryan Adan, and Faduma Yusuf

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