This week I speak with Anna, who escaped Syria while 8 months pregnant in 2013 and now lives in Maine. She talks about trading the daily threat of bombings and kidnappings for a life of uncertainty as she and her husband applied and waited for asylum. She offers insight about what it means to really feel safe, and helps us better understand the plight of millions of Syrian refugees who are desperate for a chance to live in peace.
This is a particularly intense interview about one woman’s narrow escape from Burundi, after she and her mother gave medical aid to an injured protester. She describes their arrest and interrogation prior to coming to the United States, and what it is like to be here, having never planned to leave her life and dreams behind.
(Please note that there are explicit references to sexual violence in this episode.)
We begin a new series on refugee women in Maine with a conversation with Fatuma Hussein of United Somali Women of Maine. She describes the challenges of resettlement for refugees fleeing war in their native countries, which she experienced herself as a teenager. We talk about what kinds of help these new Mainers need to rebuild their lives, and how her organization collaborates with social service agencies to ease this overwhelming transition. She also addresses the presumption that refugees have a negative impact on the state’s economy and culture, and explains her vision for making Maine a more welcoming place of refuge.
This week we conclude our series on the Maine-Wabanaki TRC by visiting a group of non-native allies who are working on how to best respond to the needs that the TRC brought to light. We learn from them why these issues matter to them personally, and the self-reflection and actions they take to make a difference for native people’s rights in Maine.
A conversation with Penthea Burns, co-director of Maine-Wabanaki REACH. She talks about her background in child welfare and the difficulty of deciding whether the benefits of removing a child from abuse outweigh the additional trauma of severing family and community ties. She talks about how her work on these issues in Wabanaki communities has led her to a deeper understanding of her privilege as a non-native person, and how this privilege can undermine the efforts of non-native allies.