Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center
Refugee Community Gardens 
A refugee from Bhutan harvests greens in the Tukwila Community Garden in Seattle, Washington.
A refugee from Bhutan harvests greens
in the Tukwila Community Garden in
Seattle, Washington.

 When a group of Somali Bantu refugees approached staff at the International Rescue Committee's (IRC) office in San Diego in 2006 and said that they wanted to find a way to farm again, the IRC recognized that addressing this need by teaching refugees to farm could have a broad and lasting impact. Farming is an important tradition for many refugees who come to the U.S., and being able to reconnect with the land would have a positive impact on their wellbeing.  The IRC saw farming as an effective way to help refugees integrate into their local communities, grow their own fresh produce, and in some cases, supplement their incomes through sales at farmers' markets and to local restaurants.


And so the IRC's New Roots program began.  Since sowing the first seeds at their New Roots Community Farm in San Diego in 2009, the IRC, working with community partners, has re-connected more than 400 families with gardens and farms in 12 U.S cities.  Refugees are growing crops from home -- ong choy, kabocha vines, African eggplant and hibiscus.  They are getting out of their apartments and meeting their neighbors, exchanging tips about farming and the various ways to cook one vegetable. In some cities, refugees are selling at local farmers' markets, making locally grown produce available and affordable to their entire community.


Community gardening has a positive impact on physical and mental health of refugees.  Aside from eating fresh produce, refugees establish social relationships and a sense of belonging to their community, which promotes psychological wellbeing during resettlement.  Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) helped support the launch of the New Roots program in San Diego, Phoenix and Salt Lake City and supports dozens of refugee community gardens and agriculture projects through the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program

This article was contributed by New Roots Program, a project of International Rescue Committee San Diego. Learn more about the IRC's New Roots Program > 



New RHTAC Website Resources
New In The Literature
Follow 2012 ORR National Consultation on Twitter!

On September 19th and 20th, ORR, RHTAC, and other refugee organizations will be live tweeting from the ORR Consultation using the hashtag #ORR2012. RHTAC will begin tweeting at the Opening Plenary session that will feature guest speaker Guor Marial, South Sudanese Olympian!  In addition, RHTAC is presenting a workshop titled Affordable Care Act:  Tools and Information for Implementation in Refugee Communities.  Stay updated by following ORR @USRefugee and RHTAC @RefugeeHealthTA

Call for Abstracts

2013 North American Refugee Health Conference in Toronto

The North American Refugee Health Conference will be held on June 6-8, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. Join health professionals from U.S. and Canada to discuss evidence-based strategies, research, advocacy, and mobilization for refugee health and mental health. Submit a poster or oral abstract by December 3, 2012. 
Learn more > 
Affordable Care Act & Refugee Health

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), refugees and their families may be eligible for important preventive services, which can help avoid illness and improve health, at no additional costs.  If a health plan is subject to these new requirements of the ACA, refugees may not have to pay a copayment, co-insurance, or deductible to receive recommended screenings, vaccinations, and counseling such as:

  • Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests
  • Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies
  • Counseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression, and reducing alcohol use
  • Regular well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21
  • Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio, or meningitis
  • Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies
  • Flu and pneumonia shots
Adapted from


ACA Resources 

  • Prevention and WellnessList of covered preventive services for families, women, and seniors.
  • Health FinderFind out more information about preventive health topics and services in your area. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Affordable Care Act in Your State: Detailed information on implementation of the ACA searchable by each specific state.
Upcoming Events & Trainings 


National Welcoming Week

September 15-22, 2012, Nationwide

Presented by: Welcoming America


National Immigrant Integration Conference

September 22-25, 2012, Baltimore, MD

Presented by: The National Partnership for New Americans


6th International Conference on Health Issues in Arab Communities

October 16-17, 2012, Dearborn, MI
Presented by: ACCESS Community Health & Research Center


UNSPOKEN Conference: Create Space for Gender-Peace

October 17-18, 2012, Utica, NY

Presented by: Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees


2012 National Refugee and Immigrant Conference: Issues and Innovations

October 18-19, 2012, Chicago, IL

Presented by: Adult Learning Resource Center


The Eighth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations

March 11-14, 2013, Oakland, CA  

Presented by: DiversityRx  


View more events and trainings > 

Funding Opportunities 

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Brief proposals due Oct 10, 2012.  Invited full proposals due Dec 17, 2012.

The foundation will award funding to projects that aim to improve the health of middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color, as well as their opportunities for success in school, work, and life.  
U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Due Jan 7, 2014. Suggested research areas include: biobehavioral studies of multiple factors that influence child health disparities, studies that target specific health promotion needs of children with known illness and/or disability, and/or studies that test and evaluate comparative effectiveness of health promotion interventions.

RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience at Children's Hospital Boston, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Cultural Orientation Resource Center at Center for Applied Linguistics, and JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. RHTAC is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB0042.    


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Stories for Somali Health Video
New Routes to Community Health
This one-hour video, hosted on YouTube, uses a traditional Somali folklore character to illustrate how a modern-day family can confront mental illness.  


U.S. Office of Minority Health and Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
Provides recommendations to integrate culturally competent care and provide behavioral health care in locations that minority populations currently visit.

Nepali Health Fact Sheets

Gyan Jyoti Kendra, Global Institute for Nepali-Speaking Diaspora
Fact sheets on women's health, health assessments, child nutrition, and more. All translated into Nepali. 


NHeLP Medicaid Expansion Toolbox

National Health Law Program (NHeLP)

Resource center for health advocates and states on interpreting the Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act ruling, its implications for Medicaid, and other policy considerations.


Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma 
For providers working in refugee camps and other resource poor areas to help people recovering from trauma and violence.


View more resources > 


Webinar Archive   

Promising Practices in Domestic Health Orientation 

July 11, 2012


Making CLAS Happen

June 20, 2012 


Refugee Mental Health Screening: Operationalizing the RHS-15

May 23, 2012 



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