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Needs Assessment of Refugees from Burma
San Francisco State University (SFSU) Asian American Studies faculty and undergraduate students collaborated with the Burmese Refugee Family Network (BRFN), a community-based nonprofit organization, for a needs assessment of new refugees from Burma to the San Francisco Bay Area. The students assisted in survey administration and analysis, while BRFN coordinated the project, facilitated planning sessions for two health fairs, suggested survey questions, and recruited translators. For example, BRFN perceived that many refugees planned to move out of the SF Bay Area because of the high cost of living, and a question about relocation confirmed that a large percentage of respondents had thought of moving but did not know where to go. To obtain 77 completed surveys, 50 SFSU students and 20 Burmese volunteers worked together.
The results indicated that along with English acquisition and job training, the top need of this emerging community was health, with nearly half of respondents reporting serious mental health issues. After the results were shared with other Bay Area community organizations, BRFN, Asian Health Services, Lao Family Community Development, and Asian Community Mental Health Services each used the survey data to develop funding proposals to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
One concrete outcome of this study is that Asian Health Services, a local non-profit organization, plans to staff a new clinic to address the health needs identified by the research project.
Russell Jeung, Asian American Studies
San Francisco State University
Key words: San Francisco, Northern California, Asian/Asian American/Asian Pacific Islander, refugees, health/health education/health disparities, housing/homelessness, employment/job training, mental health, public policy