To advocate on behalf of Somali Bantu and other similarly-disadvantaged refugees for access to professional and educational resources so that families can make a successful cultural, economic, and social transition to life in the United States, and, to provide services to assist families in becoming economically stable, civically engaged members of our new community of Tucson, Arizona.
Somali Bantu refugees began arriving in Tucson in May 2003 as part of a larger resettlement program sponsored by the US Department of State and administered through the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). A total of approximately 12,000 Somali Bantu were resettled across the United States, and according to community surveys, there are approximately 1,500 currently living in Tucson.
This refugee population fled their homeland in Somalia beginning in 1991, when warlords began to take over the country and the security of citizens could no longer be assured. The majority of Somali Bantu refugees fled on foot to Kenyan refugee camps where they resided until their resettlement to the US started in 2003.
Before the Somali state disintegrated, Somali Bantu were self-subsistence farmers in the most fertile part of Somalia, whereas the majority of Somali people were nomadic herders. Most Somali Bantu refugee adults have not received any formal education, and their two primary native languages--Maay Maay & Kizigua--are dialects & not written languages, therefore rendering the population 'pre-literate' (not literate in any language.) The majority of Somali Bantu adults arrived lacking any English language skills, literacy, urban wage-labor experience or transferable skills.
The Somali Bantu Association of Tucson, Arizona (SBATA) was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Arizona on December 23, 2004 following a series of community organizing meetings that fall. SBATA is an ethnic community-based refugee self-help organization, as defined by the US DHHS Office of Refugee Resettlement. Our Board of Directors was elected by Somali Bantu refugee community members in Tucson, thereby meeting the definitional requirement that 51% of board members must be refugees from the target ethnic community.
To advocate on behalf of Somali Bantu and other similarly-disadvantaged refugees for access to professional and educational…