On this week’s show, I speak with Colby College anthropology professor Catherine Besteman. She has spent her career studying Somali society, both in Somalia and here in Maine, where many Somalian refugees have begun new lives after escaping civil war at home. Catherine explains the causes of that war and the violence it created, particularly for minority ethnic groups. Her explanation of why Somalis had to flee helps us appreciate that every refugee is dealing with trauma.
An interview with lawyer Phil Mantis of the Immigrant Legal Assistance Program, or ILAP. ILAP provides free legal help to people seeking asylum in the United States. He explains the difference between a refugee and an asylee, describes the most common reasons asylum cases are denied, and explains how ILAP helps asylees avoid those pitfalls.
This week I speak with Alice, an asylee from Burundi who now lives in Maine. She talks about her work in both countries to support and empower women who have faced cultural silencing and endured trauma. Together we explore ways that refugees might be connected with therapists who can help them tell the painful stories they need to document in order to apply for asylum.
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.)