Living in the Shadows

Health
10:54 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Six Things To Know About Refugees and Health Care in Pittsburgh

As a child in war-torn Somalia, Aweys Mwaliya saw friends and family killed in massacres. He and his family eventually fled, spending a decade living in refugee camps. Nine years ago, he was resettled in Utah and later moved to Pittsburgh. Among his fellow Somalian refugees, he said there are a lot of people who need mental health help, but most won’t go for it.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

In 2012, more that 58,000 refugees were resettled in the United States. A couple thousand of them came to Pennsylvania. Many of these refugees come to the United States fleeing war and genocide. Many arrive healthy but develop chronic illnesses as they adopt American habits. Others feel isolated and alone – suffering that can turn toxic over time. 

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Behavioral Health
10:31 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Translating Trauma: The Challenge of Treating Refugees With PTSD

Aweys Mwaliya's childhood in war-torn Somalia was marred by unspeakable trauma. He and his family eventually fled, spending a decade living in refugee camps. Nine years ago, he was resettled in Utah and later moved to Pittsburgh.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

As a child in war-torn Somalia, Aweys Mwaliya saw friends and family killed in massacres. Fleeing the country,  his family spent weeks walking to Kenya. The trip was so grueling, that along the way, his youngest sister died. The family couldn’t give her a proper burial.

"The feeling I have about those terrible things are very, very bad, and I’m still wondering why things like that happen, why people do things to other people," Mwaliya, now 30 and living in Pittsburgh said. 

In Kenya, his family spent a decade living in refugee camps.

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Behavioral Health
3:00 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Bhutanese Refugees Face a High Suicide Rate

At a conference held in Pittsburgh last fall, several dozen men from around the United States discussed a disturbing trend in their community: the high suicide rate and prevalence of depression among Bhutanese-Nepali refugees.

"People are looking for resources where they can go to curb this mental health issue," said Buddha Mani Dhakal, editor of the Bhutan News Service.

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Behavioral Health
7:34 am
Mon January 27, 2014

In Seeking Health Care, Many Refugees Have Only A Small Window of Opportunity

Birkha Tamang, a Bhutanese refugee, hopes to find an affordable health care plan. Assisting him is health navigator Leslie Bachurski of the Consumer Health Coalition.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

On a blustery January morning, Leslie Bachurski is at Northern Area Multi Service’s offices in Sharpsburg. Bachurski, a health care navigator, is at the resettlement agency to help non-English speaking refugees enroll in health insurance plans.

Her first client of the day is Birkha Tamang, a 42-year-old Bhutanese refugee who has been in the United States for 16 months with his wife and kids. He’s the only one in his family with a job — and the only one without health care coverage.

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Navigating Health Care Can Often Leave Refugees Lost in Translation

Therapist Julanne Bibro-Ruch works with Adu Sit, a Burmese refugee, at the Squirrel Hill Health Center. On the speaker phone is an interpreter.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

By the time the federally funded Squirrel Hill Health Center’s Mobile Unit opens its doors in the South Hills community of Prospect Park, people are already lined up, looking for help.

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Health
8:27 am
Mon January 13, 2014

When a New Home Means a New Diet, Health Problems Can Arise for Refugees

Tek Nepal (right) washes spinach at his Mount Oliver home with his wife Radhika Nepal. After a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2012, his diet has changed substantially.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

On a typical weekday morning, 47-year-old Tek Nepal is moving about the Mount Oliver duplex he shares with his wife, sons, daughter-in-law and grandchild.

He works nights, so he gets his family time in the mornings. And often, that time centers around eating.

Those meals used to consist of lots of starches. But since a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2012, they have changed.

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Behavioral Health
6:00 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Deportations Leave a Footprint in the Mental Health of the Family Remaining in the US

At 11 years old, Jennifer Barajas says that she has a broken heart. As soon as she begins to talk about her father, Ramón Salvador Barajas, who is in the process of being deported, the smile disappears from Jennifer’s face.

“The day they caught him, I waited and waited, and I saw that that he wasn’t coming, and I became sad. And now we have been without him six months, and I don’t want to be without him any longer because we all feel alone,” said the Mexican girl.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Living in the Shadows: Pittsburgh Refugees & Mental Health

Credit Icars / flickr

Refugees to the region face a number of challenges, unfamiliarity with a different language is even more complicated when trying to obtain health care.

90.5 WESA Behavioral Health Reporter Erika Beras is embarking on a month-long series on the challenges refugees face in the Pittsburgh area to obtain health care. She says her interest in the topic was sparked by the high population of refugees in Pittsburgh. 

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Mon January 6, 2014

For Refugees From War-Torn Nations, Mental Health Care Is Often Missing

When Claudine Mukankindi arrived in Pittsburgh in 2001, it was after surviving the Rwandan genocide, enduring countless acts of violence and loss of family. In her time in the U.S., she was diagnosed and treated for a slew of mental illnesses, among them post-traumatic stress disorder. Her last years were marked by hospital stays and court visits. She died of a heart attack in 2012.
Credit Courtesy photo

On a Sunday morning last December, nearly a hundred people gathered in a West End church to dedicate their prayers to Claudine Mukankindi, a young woman who came to the United States as a Congolese refugee.

In December 2012, a year earlier, she died of a heart attack at age 36.

In a pew near the front was Adeline Kihonia. Dancing and chanting in worship, she had tears in her eyes.

"She was like a part of my family," Kihonia said. "When she passed away, it was like I lost a sister, a good sister."

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Health
3:00 am
Mon January 6, 2014

New Arrivals in the US Face Vast Health Challenges

Immigrants come to the United States fleeing war and genocide. Others arrive seeking better opportunities for their families. But whether they are refugees from Nepal seeking asylum or undocumented Mexican families in Los Angeles, immigrants share common circumstances. Many arrive healthy but develop chronic illnesses as they adopt American habits. Many feel isolated and alone – suffering that can turn toxic over time.

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