Here at WellShare, our Reproductive Health Program, SPEAK, includes both the Somali Child Spacing Program and the Karen Child Spacing Program. They mutually provide reproductive health resources and education to the Somali and Karen communities as well as to health care centers that provide direct service to members of these communities.
Our Somali community health workers (CHWs) provide resources on health benefits to both the men and women in the Somali community to promote understanding of the reproductive health options that are available. As religion and cultural beliefs play a major part in how people view “child spacing,” our CHWs often times come across individuals who are firm in their beliefs and do not want to hear otherwise. With sensitivity and awareness, our CHWs reassure our clients about research and engage in dialogue related to dispelling myths related to child spacing and discussing their personal religious and cultural beliefs. In a context where tradition is revered and upheld, it is inspiring to hear from our CHWs how they have opened numerous minds.
Primary activities include:
- Hosting community events and conducting home visits facilitated by our CHWs to increase knowledge on the importance and benefits of child spacing as well as referring and/or introducing participants to a variety of reproductive health services;
- Developing resources related to reproductive health education alongside implementation partners to then offer to both the community participants and providers alike;
- In-service coaching and seminars for educators, providers, and other social service specialists.
While our CHWs have a strong client-centered approach, they also collaborate with providers to educate them on the Somali community and increase their culture sensitivity. Providers ultimately end up developing better relationships with their Somali patients with the help of our CHWs.
The Karen Child Spacing Program similarly engages the Karen community and health care centers by administering culturally appropriate resources and education. Since 2013, our staff has worked with the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM) to establish and carry out an integrated reproductive health educational program in the Karen community.
Primary activities led by and for Karen families, include:
- Enhancing participants’ morale when it comes to approaching health care from learning what options of care are accessible to them to how to ask their providers to set up appointments,
- Boosting participants’ comfort in communicating about reproductive health and child spacing with their family and children
Our ultimate goal in offering a comprehensive family planning educational program is working with health care professionals that work primarily with these communities and community members to increase awareness of child spacing benefits and encourage access to culturally-informed reproductive care.