As someone who works in the field of healthcare, there are 3 things I know to be facts: First, is that California is currently facing significant healthcare worker shortages, and it is projected to become even worse over the next 10 years. Second, the World Health Organization has noted considerable disparities in health outcomes for refugees. And third, a formidable solution to reducing health disparities in communities of color is having more healthcare workers who reflect the diversity of the patients they serve, like those from immigrant and refugee communities.
Last year, Moms Against Poverty (MAP) launched the Danesh, a STEM education program for Afghan refugee girls in California. In planning our curriculum for 2023, we set out to host a workshop to teach the girls about healthcare careers and healthy living.
In February 2023, we hosted Afghan refugee girls from all over the Sacramento area to participate in hands-on activities about nutrition and healthy eating, the anatomy of the heart and how to use a stethoscope, and how to suture wounds. The girls also got to hear from Afghan healthcare workers and medical students about their own personal journeys in pursuing healthcare careers.
The positive responses we received from the event were overwhelming; “it was so cool to hear from someone who also came here from Afghanistan when they were a young girl like me and is now going to be a doctor. Maybe in 10 years, I will be in medical school too just like her”, explained one of the high school participants.
Another young girl, in 5th grade, exclaimed, “I can’t wait to take my stethoscope home and check the heart rates of my brothers and sister to make sure their hearts are healthy”.
In addition, as part of Moms Against Poverty’s Nutrition Outreach Program, we were able to let the girls take home all the healthy groceries they picked out during the mock farmer’s market activity, and they also received $50 grocery gift cards to take home to their families as the increase in food prices has hit our newcomer families particularly hard.
Moms Against Poverty will be leading many more Danesh events over the year, including a robotics-themed workshop later in February and a mother-daughter arts and technology workshop in March. To learn more about Danesh and to support this program, see here.