Honoring and Supporting Refugee Women

Written by: Marsha Akoto, RISE | JFS Group Programming

Over the past several months, I have had the great opportunity to facilitate HIAS Women’s Empowerment Groups within the RISE department. These groups consist of Afghan Evacuees and a Cameroonian refugee. I have really witnessed the growth, resilience, and eagerness to learn in a group of young women.

When I first started working with these young women, I noticed there was a lot of conflict with adjustment to life in America – culture adjustment issues, career concerns, language anxiety, and essentially a lack of feeling empowered. Yet through all these challenging times, they have all persisted with the help of these groups and have accomplished many of their personal goals. So far, we have covered topics such as financial literacy, professional development, nutritional education, and we are currently focusing on women’s health.

One woman said, “I am very thankful for this group because in Afghanistan, we do not really talk about these things.” Another said, “This information is important to learn about because when I was younger, they split up girls and boys and said it was not necessary to learn about women’s health.”

I had several women state they had no prior knowledge about vaccinations against cervical cancer, diversity in contraception, or the several resources available in the U.S.

Furthermore, we were able to celebrate and honor Women’s Month, as we invited an OBGYN from Christiana Hospital to educate these young ladies on women’s health, reproductive rights, healthy sexual practices, and consenting in America. The young ladies asked many questions, gained a lot of health literacy, and felt empowered to make decisions for themselves. It has been rewarding to see the tenacity, resilience, and hard work of these strong women!


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Jewish Family Services of Delaware is a place where all members of our community can receive help and support to overcome life’s challenges and cope with difficult situations. JFS is committed to providing the highest quality services available in our area, with compassion and respect for everyone. Our mission is to strengthen individuals, families, and the community by providing counseling and support services, based on Jewish values. To stay up-to-date on the latest news from JFS, sign up for our newsletter by submitting your e-mail at the bottom of the page.