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In December 2016, The California Endowment awarded $20,000 to Nile Sisters Development Initiative funding (NSDI) for its certified nursing assistant (CNA) vocational training program. NSDI began facilitating the program in 2012. To date, nearly 80 participants have completed the CNA program and entered the healthcare workforce.
Healthcare careers are the most promising and rapidly growing occupations nationally and statewide. Locally, professions such as certified nursing assistant constitute the largest employment in San Diego and Imperial counties. The NSDI CNA program enables refugees and other underserved populations to access skill-training for in-demand careers such as healthcare professions.
San Diego Refugee Forum (SDRF) has elected Rebecca Paida, Senior Program Manager of Nile Sisters Development Initiative, to be the 2017–2019 Chair. The SDRF is a professional consortium of more than 40 organizations, including refugee resettlement agencies, social services providers, healthcare providers, other entities, and individual partners. SDRF connects the refugee community with opportunities and tools needed to advocate for, educate, and empower persons fleeing from war and persecution.
Of her new role, Rebecca says, “I am humbled to work alongside amazing refugee champions, and I look forward to joining the collective voice uplifted on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in our region in the next two years and beyond.”
Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) is a recipient of City of San Diego Community Projects, Programs, and Services (CPPS) funding. The City of San Diego awards CPPS grants to public entities and not-for-profit organizations for “community, social, environmental, cultural or recreational needs.” Awarded by Councilmember Mark Kersey (District 5), the grant will fund the NSDI employment facilitation program named Back to Back Skill Development (B2B). This new investment will enable hard-to-reach populations to access certified nursing assistant (CNA) training so that they can enter the healthcare labor force.
San Diego CNA positions are in demand, and, through B2B, NSDI exposes refugees and immigrants to priority employment sectors to promote gainful and sustainable livelihoods. From 2012 program implementation to date, nearly 80 CNA participants have benefited from the asset-building program. Participants generally obtain employment in the healthcare industry within a few months after successful completion of the program.
Oral Health is an integral component of overall health and well-being, however, essential healthcare information and services can be difficult to access for San Diego’s most vulnerable communities. The largest resettlement site in the state of California, San Diego is home to more than 150,000 refugees. As part of its ongoing efforts to conduct preventative health outreach and education, Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) is committed to addressing chronic conditions that burden refugee and immigrant communities.
NSDI believes that access to holistic, culturally sensitive health and wellness programs are necessary for our primary populations to reach their full potential and to thrive. In 2016, NSDI launched the ROHI, Refugee Oral Health Initiative program, in partnership with the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). Through ROHI, NSDI aims to address oral health disparities that burden underrepresented and underserved populations.
On December 15, 2016, Nile Sisters Development Initiative hosted its annual Adopt-a-Basket drive. The initiative allows community members, faith-based entities, local school groups, businesses, and other stakeholders to help offset some of the financial difficulties that refugee and immigrant families encounter towards the end of the calendar year.
Adopt-a-Basket supporters donated new and gently used basic household consumables, school supplies, personal hygiene products, and children’s essentials totaling an estimated value of $8,105, or about $100 for each of 200 recipients. Depending upon individual needs, beneficiaries of the baskets received additional critically needed items, such as diapers, warm winter clothing, and kitchen utensils.
Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) presents Female Genital Cutting: A Conversation in San Diego, to take place at the University of San Diego, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice on January 25, 2017, from 6:00–8:00pm. The event will feature a short film screening and panel discussion among female genital cutting (FGC) survivors and activists, health care professionals, and other experts on the topic of FGC.
The end of the calendar year is a difficult time for refugee and immigrant families in San Diego County, so Nile Sisters strives to relieve some of the stress by building partnerships with local businesses, schools, and organizations to collect household items, personal care items, and children’s essentials to distribute directly to the refugee and immigrant communities via two charitable programs—Adopt-a-Basket and Adopt-a-Family.
In 2014, Pramoda S., her husband, and two sons moved to the US from Nepal in order to take advantage of better opportunities. In the beginning, Pramoda experienced difficulties in navigating new systems due to limited knowledge of American customs. In Nepal, Pramoda had been a banker, but in the US, she struggled to understand diverse spoken accents of people she encountered. She didn’t know where to begin to apply for a job or to seek education or skill-training.
Growing up, Jercol X. and her family were persecuted for their Rwandan roots. They sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo for twelve years before resettling as refugees in the United States. Although resettlement and adopting the American way of life were initially difficult, Jercol continued to persevere through school and build a new life for herself, mother, brother, and fourteen-year-old son.
Through the Community Enhancement Program, the County of San Diego has awarded a grant to Nile Sisters Development Initiative. The county apportions the funds for programs that promote the economy, create jobs, and improve quality of life. The new award will help the Nile Sisters Back-to-Back (B2B) skill development program to provide professional development and skill-building training to refugees and immigrants in San Diego County.