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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UNC Student to Take Lead on Project to Improve Health of North Carolina’s Refugees

A master’s student, faculty member and alumnus of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health have been awarded a Kenan-Biddle Partnership grant to improve health and wellness among refugee communities in the Triangle (NC) area.

[Photo: Ms. Meagan Clawar works with the Refugee Community Partnership and its refugee women foodmakers group, Traditional Kitchens. Here, Ms. Clawar (in black jacket), works with a Karen woman to prepare a dish for shoppers at the Carrboro, NC, Farmers Market.]

Ms. Meagan Clawar, Master of Science in Public Health student in health policy and management, Dr. Dilshad Jaff, adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health and program coordinator for solutions to complex emergencies in the Gillings School’s research, innovation and global solutions office, and Mr. Michael Wilson, 2014 Gillings School alumnus in health behavior, will work on the project with Duke University partners Ms. Raha Khademi, Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) student at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and Mr. Tom Nicholson, executive director of the nonprofit Advance Access & Delivery (AA&D) and associate in research at Duke’s Center for International Development.

Alumnus Mr. Wilson is a member of the leadership team at AA&D. Students Ms. Clawar and Ms. Khademi will lead the grant opportunity, with Dr. Jaff and Mr. Nicholson serving in advisory roles.

Through close collaboration with Refugee Community Partnership, (RCP) in Carrboro, NC, and the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) in Greensboro, N.C., the team will use community-identified priorities to support existing programs for refugee families and individuals living in NC’s Orange and Durham counties.

While many valuable services are available upon a refugee’s arrival to the US, few are sustained beyond the first six months. Long-term, community-based support for refugee communities is often patchwork, at best, leading to significant gaps in access to critical health and social services.

The project’s goal is to raise standards for service delivery to refugees through an accompaniment model, aimed at empowering and mentoring the refugee community as they work to accomplish their own goals. The project team will develop an open-source training manual and an updatable, user-friendly service map that can be shared widely to promote high-quality services to communities in need.

The grant project, which links UNC, Duke, RCP, CNNC and AAD, marks the start of a plan to address the current state of refugee support and amplify the innovative and successful support models currently employed by RCP and CNNC.

“Rethinking the way we, as a community, address refugee support requires bringing a diverse group of experts together – a group that must include refugees, as they are the true experts about their own experiences,” Ms. Clawar said. “Our team has robust connections to the local refugee community, and we are excited to dedicate ourselves to improving the health and well-being of refugees as we continue listening to and learning from that community.”

The Kenan-Biddle Partnership is funded by the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation to promote collaboration between students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to solve social or environmental issues.

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