Ellen Abbott

A new program starts in Syracuse this weekend that’s meant to help people overcome one of the biggest impediments to finding work in central New York: transportation. 

It often isn’t so easy getting a job in central New York if you don’t have a car or access to public transportation. Providence Services of Syracuse President Deborah Hundley says the problems come at workplaces that are beyond the bus line, or shifts that begin or end when buses aren’t running.

(photo provided)

On one of the year’s first perfect spring days, Aziz trolls the Wegmans supermarket parking lot for stray shopping carts. Despite sometimes erratic weather, he doesn’t mind logging long hours walking the asphalt. It’s nothing compared to the hiking he used to do in his native Afghanistan. Compared to the mountainous terrain, Aziz calls being on his feet all day in the flat parking lot, “a picnic.” 

Daryl Thaler

As pop music spills from a speaker, a group of women from the Rochester Refugee Women’s Network (RRWN) put the final touches on this get-together. The event, co-sponsored by Refugees Helping Refugees, officially started an hour earlier, but is running on what the women affectionately call “refugee time.”

Before the trays of Somali food are passed out and the traditional dances performed,13-year-old Rochester-born Asli Yusuf recalls hearing her mother Sahra Ibrahim’s stories of celebrating International Women’s Day in a refugee camp in Mogadishu.

Supplied Photo

Health care providers from across the United States and Canada and overseas came together in western New York to discuss the most effective approaches to treating refugee populations, many of whom have experienced significant trauma fleeing from conflict zones.

There are between four and five million refugees in the U.S. and their experiences often result in unique health needs.

Somali Community in Western New York

The desire for familiar food, clothing, and other products from home is spurring refugee communities in upstate New York to start their own businesses. In response, a group in Rochester has organized a six week startup business training course to help the Somali refugee community navigate the process.

“They can actually create their own little local economy where they can exchange, similar to what they had in Somalia,” says David Dey, president and CEO of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship.