The small storefront on South 7th street in South Philly doesn’t look like much on the outside, but inside it’s a different story. The walls are covered in photos, paintings and drawings. The colors are bold and bright. The main room is filled with people socializing, enjoying a mild spring afternoon together. Children are laughing and playing. This is the home of the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative (PRMHC) – ground zero for a group of resettlement agencies, mental health providers, physicians and arts organizations that are working to link refugees to culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health care. The PRMHC is led by Liberty’s Lutheran Children and Family Service and uses therapy, support groups and arts projects to help families process past exposure to violence and current resettlement stresses. It is a lifeline for refugees who are starting over, after surviving unimaginable trauma in their home countries.
On Friday, May 3rd, dozens of families of Burmese and Bhutanese decent packed the small storefront for a modest but lively celebration. It featured many delicious dishes that are popular in the Burmese and Bhutanese cultures, as well as some classic American foods. Continue reading