Advertisement

Through their Eyes: A Photovoice and Interview Exploration of Integration Experiences of Congolese Refugee Women in Indianapolis

  • Jyotika SaksenaEmail author
  • Shannon L. McMorrow
Article
  • 28 Downloads

Abstract

The goal of this study was to engage with adult women refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to understand their perceptions and experiences with integration, resettlement, and health in Indianapolis. The focus of this paper is the findings related to integration. The study was conducted in partnership with a refugee resettlement agency who identified women from DRC as a population of interest since they are a relatively new refugee group to both the USA and Indiana. A community engaged approach was used to conduct a qualitative study utilizing both the Photovoice method and semi-structured interviews with 16 women. Triangulated analysis of interview transcripts, photos, and captions created from the Photovoice discussions revealed five major themes of language acquisition, lack of stable jobs, transportation, affordable housing, and social support. Our study concludes that emphasis on early self-sufficiency negatively affected this group of refugees’ language acquisition, which in turn adversely affected multiple other aspects of the integration process including access to well-paid jobs, affordable housing, and transportation. The authors argue that emphasis on social support, both within the Congolese refugee community and the local population, along with group learning can play a critical role in improving the integration experience of women refugees.

Keywords

Women Refugees Democratic Republic of Congo Photovoice Integration 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the University of Indianapolis Interdisciplinary Programs for providing the seed money for the project and Exodus Refugee Inc., our community research partner, for their support throughout the project.

Funding

This study was funded by the Indiana Minority Health Coalition.

References

  1. Ager, A., & Strang, A. (2008). Understanding integration: a conceptual framework. Journal of Refugee Studies, 21(2), 166–191.  https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fen016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballard, M. J. (2017). Refugees, rights, and responsibilities: bridging the integration gap. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, 39(1), 185.Google Scholar
  3. Bloch, A. (2008). Refugees in the UK labour market: the conflict between economic integration and policy-led labour market restriction. Journal of Social Policy, 37(1), 21–36.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S004727940700147X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bohon, S. A. (2005). Occupational attainment of Latino immigrants in the United States. Geographical Review, 95(2), 249–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, C., Schale, C. L., & Nilsson, J. E. (2010). Vietnamese immigrant and refugee women’s mental health: an examination of age of arrival, length of stay, income, and English language proficiency. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 38(2), 66–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Capps, R., Newland, K., Fratzke, S., Groves, S., Auclair, G., Fix, M., & McHugh, M. (2015). Integrating refugees in the United States: the successes and challenges of resettlement in a global context. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 31(3), 341–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Castleden, H., Garvin, T., & First Nation, H. (2008). Modifying photovoice for community- based participatory indigenous research. Social Science & Medicine, 66(6), 1393–1405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chaumba, J., & Nackerud, L. (2013). Social capital and the integration of Zimbabwean immigrants in the United States. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 11(2), 217–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chung, R. C., Bemak, F., & Wong, S. (2000). Vietnamese refugees’ levels of distress, social support, and acculturation: implications for mental health counseling. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 22(2), 150–161.Google Scholar
  10. Corvo, K., & Peterson, J. (2016). Post-traumatic stress symptoms: language acquisition, and self-sufficiency. Journal of Social Work, 5(2), 205–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deacon, Z., & Sullivan, C. (2009). Responding to the complex and gendered needs of refugee women. Affilia, 24(3), 272–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dharod, J. M., Xin, H., Morrison, S. D., Young, A., & Nsonwu, M. (2013). Lifestyle and food-related challenges refugee groups face upon resettlement: do we have to move beyond job and language training programs? Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 8(2), 187–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DiCicco-Bloom, B., & Crabtree, B. F. (2006). The qualitative research interview. Medical Education, 40, 314–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ellis, B., Murray, K., & Barrett, C. (2014). Understanding the mental health of refugees: Trauma, stress, and the cultural context. In P. Ranna (Ed.), The Massachusetts General Hospital text-book on diversity and cultural sensitivity in mental health (pp. 165–187). New York: Humana Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Erlingsson, C., & Brysiewicz, P. (2017). A hands-on guide to doing content analysis. African Journal of Emergency Medicine, 7(3), 93–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Felsman, I. C. (2016). Supporting health and well-being for resettled refugee women: the Global Women’s Group. Creative Nursing, 22(4), 226–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Findholt, N. E., Michael, Y. L., & Davis, M. M. (2010). Photovoice engages rural youth in childhood obesity prevention. Public Health Nursing, 28(2), 186–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Flahaux, M. & Schoumaker, B. (2016). Democratic Republic of the Congo: a migration history marked by crises and restrictions. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/democratic-republic-congo-migration-history-marked-crises-and-restrictions. Accessed 21 April 2018.
  19. Garcia, C. M., Aguilera-Guzman, R. M., Lindgren, S., Gutierrez, R., Raniolo, B., Genis, T., Vazquez-Benitez, G., & Clausen, L. (2012). Intergenerational Photovoice projects. Health Promotion Practice, 14(5), 695–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Graneheim, U. H., & Lundman, B. (2004). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24, 105–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haffejee, B., & East, J. F. (2016). African women refugee resettlement: a womanist analysis. Journal of Women and Social Work, 31(2), 232–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hauck, F. R., Lo, E., Maxwell, A., & Reynolds, P. P. (2014). Factors influencing the acculturation of Burmese, Bhutanese, and Iraqi refugees into American society: cross-cultural comparisons. Journal of Immigration & Refugee Studies, 12(3), 331–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hello Neighbor. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.helloneighbor.io/. Accessed on 25 July 2018.
  24. Holloway, I. (1997). Basic concepts for qualitative research. London: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  25. Indiana’s Refugee Order: Exodus, Continued. (2016). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/united-states/2016/03/19/exodus-continued. Accessed on 4 February 2019.
  26. Ives, N. (2007). More than a “Good Back”: looking for integration in refugee resettlement. Refuge, 24(2), 54–63.Google Scholar
  27. Keller, C., Fleury, J., Perez, A., Ainsworth, B., & Vaughan, L. (2008). Using visual methods to uncover context. Qualitative Health Research, 18(3), 428–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kirchhof, A. (2018). Thousands flee violence in south-eastern DR Congo. United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) News. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2018/2/5a8c18004/thousands-flee-violence-south-eastern-dr- Congo.Html. Accessed on 30 July 2018.
  29. Koyama, J. (2015). Constructing gender: refugee women working in the United States. Journal of Refugee Studies, 28(2), 258–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Livingood, W. C., Monticalvo, D., Bernhardt, J. M., Wells, K. T., Harris, T., Kee, K., Hayes, J., George, D., & Woodhouse, L. D. (2016). Engaging adolescents through participatory and qualitative research methods to develop a digital communication intervention to reduce adolescent obesity. Health Education & Behavior, 44, 570–580.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198116677216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mamgain, V., & Collins, K. (2003). Off the boat, now off to work: refugees in the labour market in Portland, Maine. Journal of Refugee Studies, 16(2), 113–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McHenry, M. S., Umoren, R., Dixit, A., Holliday, R., & Litzelman, D. (2016). Exploring healthcare perspectives of Burmese Chin refugees. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 23(4), 151–157.Google Scholar
  34. McMorrow, S., & Saksena, J. (2017). Voices and views of Congolese refugee women: a qualitative exploration to inform health promotion and reduce inequities. Health Education & Behavior https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1090198117726572.
  35. McMorrow, S., & Smith, S. (2016). Photovoice as a participatory assessment approach for examining disparities in obesity for African American teen girls. The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society, 6(3), 77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mirza, M., Luna, R., Mathews, B., Hasnain, R., Hebert, E., Niebauer, A., & Mishra, U. D. (2014). Barriers to healthcare access among refugees with disabilities and chronic health conditions resettled in the US Midwest. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 16(4), 733–742.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-013-9906-535T.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Modood, T. (2005). A defense of multiculturalism. Soundings, 29, 62–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nadler, A. L. (2017). The effect of working ban periods for asylum seekers on refugees' employment rates in Europe (Order No. 10270195). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & These Global. (1896102297). Retrieved from https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/1043986/Nadler_georgetown_0076M_13641.pdf?sequence=1.
  39. Nawyn, S. J., Gjokaj, L., Agbenyiga, D. L., & Grace, B. (2012). Linguistic isolation, social capital, and immigrant belonging. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 41(3), 255–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Office of Refugee Resettlement. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/office-of-refugee-resettlement. Accessed on 22 July 2018.
  41. One for the kitty [Blog post]. (2012). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/11/chit-funds-india. Accessed on 13 May 2018.
  42. Pearce, E., McMurray, K., Walsh, C., & Malek, L. (2017). Searching for tomorrow—South Sudanese women reconstructing resilience through Photovoice. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 18(2), 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Praetorius, R. T., Mitschke, D. B., Avila, C. D., Kelly, D. R., & Henderson, J. (2016). Cultural integration through shared learning among resettled Bhutanese women. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 26(6), 549–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Refugee Processing Center. (2019). Admissions and arrival interactive data. Retrieved from http://ireports.wrapsnet.org/Interactive-Reporting/EnumType/Report?ItemPath=/rpt_WebArrivalsReports/MX - Arrivals by Destination and Nationality. Accessed on 28 January 2019.
  45. Roessler, P. G. & Verhoeven, H. (2016). Why comrades go to war: liberation politics and the outbreak of Africa's deadliest conflict. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Shishehgar, S., Gholizadeh, L., DiGiacomo, M., Green, A., & Davidson, P. M. (2016). Health and socio-cultural experiences of refugee women: an integrative review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 19(4), 959–973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Spencer, S. and Cooper, B. (2006). Social integration of migrants in Europe: a review of the European Literature 2000–2006. Retrieved from https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/2006/er-2006-integration_europe_literature_review_oecd/. Accessed on 1 September 2018.
  48. Squires, A. (2009). Methodological challenges in cross-language qualitative research: a research review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46(2), 277–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). (2018). [Graph illustration]. Figures at a glance. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html. Accessed on 31 July 2018.
  50. US accepts more refugees from DRC than Syria amid warnings over militants. (2016). The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/03/refugees-drc-congo-us-syria. Accessed on 4 February 2019.
  51. U.S. Department of State. (2018) The reception and placement program. Retrieved from https://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/receptionplacement/index.htm. Accessed on 23 July 2018.
  52. U.S. Department of State Refugee Admissions Program. (2018). Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Retrieved from https://www.state.gov/j/prm/releases/factsheets/2018/277838.htm. Accessed on 23 April 2018.
  53. Wachter, K., Heffron, L. C., Snyder, S., Nsonwu, M. B., & Busch-Armendariz, N. B. (2015). Unsettled integration: pre- and post-migration factors in Congolese refugee women’s resettlement experiences in the United States. International Social Work, 59(6), 875–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wai, H. C., Karamehic-Muratovic, A., Matsuo, H., & Poljarevic, A. (2010). The influence of personal predispositions on Bosnian refugees’ resettlement process. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Science, 5(7), 37–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wallerstein, N., & Duran, B. (2010). Community-based participatory research contributions to intervention research: The intersection of science and practice to improve health equity. American Journal of Public Health, 100(S1), S40–S46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Warriner, D. S. (2004). Multiple literacies and identities: the experiences of two women refugees. Women's Studies Quarterly, 32(1/2), 179–195.Google Scholar
  57. Warriner, D. S. (2007). Language learning and the politics of belonging: Sudanese women refugees becoming and being “American”. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 38(4), 343–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wang, C., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wang, C., Burris, M. A., & Ping, X. Y. (1996). Chinese village women as visual anthropologists: a participatory approach to reaching policymakers. Social Science & Medicine, 42(10), 1391–1400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Weine, S. M., Hoffman, Y., Ware, N., Tugenberg, T., Hakizimana, L., Dahnweigh, G., et al. (2011). Secondary migration and relocation among African refugee families in the United States. Family Process, 50(1), 27–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zetter, R., Griffiths, A., Sigona, N., Flynn, D., Pasha T. and Beynon, R. (2006). Immigration, social cohesion and social capital: what are the links? (Report to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation). Retrieved from https://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/default/files/jrf/migrated/files/9781899354440.pdf. Accessed 2 September 2018.
  62. Zong, J. & Batalova, J. (2017). Refugees and asylees in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/refugees-and-asylees-united-states. Accessed 31 July 2017.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Western Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

Personalised recommendations