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About African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation

African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation, AIRF African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation Our Mission The mission of the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF) is to facilitate the effective transition of African Immigrant to American society and to support their productive, sustainable integration into their new homeland. The History of The African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF) The African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF) was founded in 2000 to facilitate the effective transition of African Immigrant to American society and to support their productive, sustainable integration into their new homeland. The AIRF was born out of the influx of African refugees who may not have lived in urban Africa, let alone urban America. This influx is accelerated by economic and political wars which have produced unprecedented numbers of political and economic refugees. Being physically uprooted is traumatic and results in multiple suffering, isolation, loss, shock and a sense of hopelessness -often suffered over an extended period of time. As a mental Health professional, and an immigrant herself, Dr. Kamau founded the AIRF to become an oasis and a resource for the Africans who until today remain an enigma in the Western world. The AIRF in conjunction with its volunteers and funding partners empowers new arrivals with survival skills, mental health services, ESOL classes, job evaluation, preparation and placement. We also provide African Cultural Competency training to caregivers in order to enhance intercultural communication and effective interventions. African Immigrant are the fastest growing immigrant population in America. There are over 1 million African foreign born in the United States according to 2000 US Census Bureau. According to the 2000 Census, the African-born population in the D.C. Metropolitan area saw a 150% increase in the past decade. Yet, local social service agencies lack the cultural knowledge and skills required to effectively address the immediate needs of this community. Whether they arrive on immigrant visas or as refugees, newly arrived Africans face several challenges. Many are in dire need of adaptation and adjustment services with particular emphasis on coping and accessing available resources. For example, the family from Mali that tragically died in the Bronx on March 11, 2007 was unaware of the dangers of space heaters. On arrival to the US, acute needs include mental health and trauma counseling due to loss and family separation, new language and cultural skills, support with school and provision of culturally competent social service care, family reunification and immigration status adjustments assistance. For refugees, the process is often difficult, extending far beyond the first 90 days of government support, and often continuing for years after entry into the United States. The African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF) was founded to address these critical issues of mental, identity, socio-cultural, and linguistic challenges. Based on our experiences we also find adolescent refugees and older youths are particularly affected by the process and this impacts negatively on the intergenerational communication. Consequently, young people require guidance and support to overcome obstacles to mediation within the family, school system, and adjustment to American culture. For many children, formal education was interrupted during flight and resettlement and many lack language and academic skills. They are inappropriately assigned within the school setting by age. Frustrations with teachers and with schoolmates are often reported especially with African Americans with whom they are “categorized” but with whom they share little common culture. Our target population includes populations from 45 African countries. Specifically, the AIRF targets the African youth as a gateway towards reaching the parents or guardians and in turn the larger immigrant community. Vision The African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF) provides leadership to the social welfare community and relevant civic and government agencies in the Washington metropolitan area and culturally and linguistically appropriate services to African Immigrant and refugees. Core Values The mission of AIRF is founded on and implemented with the following core values: Multicultural education, adjustment, and empowerment of African Immigrant and refugees, with special emphasis on those in the national capitol region; Inclusiveness, diversity, multicultural competence, and human dignity; Exchange of ideas and strategies in mutually respectful and multidisciplinary contexts; Continuous personal, social, and cultural growth of Immigrant and refugees; Development, advancement, and distribution of knowledge relevant to the target population to those who serve this population; Outreach and advocacy on issues of concern to the target population.
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