Archive | HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Isuroon: A portal to better health

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Executive Director Fartun Weli said, “There are things I’m not good at, but I am good at is busting down doors. There is power in keeping people dependent on the system. What I’m trying to do with Isuroon is make sure Somali women and girls are not becoming dependent.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Isuroon is a robust word in the Somali language.
According to Isuroon Executive Director Fartun Weli, it can be used as a verb, a noun, or an adjective. It is also the name of the organization she leads.
She said, “Somali words are conceptual. While the short translation of Isuroon is ‘a woman who cares for herself,’ the long translation is ‘a woman who has gotten everything she needs to be strong, healthy, independent, empowered, beautiful, vivacious, and confident.’ The mission of our organization is to be a space where every Somali woman can be all of those things.”
Isuroon was founded in 2010 to address the unmet health care needs of Somali women and girls in this community. Through group meetings, one-on-one counseling, and carefully designed teaching sessions, staff offer education on issues including self-care and social connectedness, healthy eating, pre-natal health, the impact of female genital cutting/mutilation, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, domestic and sexual violence, pregnancy prevention, child abuse, understanding HIV/AIDS, and navigating a complex health care system.
Weli and her 11 employees have a lot on their plates. Their resources are available to any Somali woman who wants to improve her health and wellness, and that of her family – to give her the tools so that she can thrive in Minnesota and beyond. Through education and coaching, women and girls learn to manage their health care preventatively, strengthen their economic self-sufficiency, and develop their innate leadership skills.
Isuroon serves a population that likely came to Minnesota from refugee camps. To be a stable presence rooted in the Somali community, they purchased a building at 1600 East Lake Street last year. Weli explained, “One of the ways we are different as an organization is that we don’t just operate within our 55407 zip code. Our women come from everywhere. Now we are easy to find.”
The barriers to health and wellness for immigrants and refugees are significant. Food insecurity can be a problem for Somali families, especially new arrivals. Weli explained why a disproportionate number of Somali families have female heads-of-household (54% nation-wide.) She said, “After 911, it got much harder for Muslim men to enter the US. While the typical Somali family consists of mom, dad, and children, it’s common for males 18+ to arrive 3-5 years after the rest of their family.”
These separations cause alot of stress. Weli believes the burden is made worse for Muslim women because of cultural stereotypes. She said, “Many Americans (especially white women) think that because we’re covered, we are insecure, oppressed, and in need of rescue. This is not true! We need to diffuse these stereotypes, which are also perpetuated by the media. Who are Muslim women in general, and Somali women in particular? We are intuitive, alert, and sociable; we didn’t grow up feeling inferior to anyone. We are unique.”
To address food insecurity, Isuroon opened a food shelf six years ago. Weli explained, “I didn’t think it was part of our mission, but our elders started asking for one. We went to Governor Dayton’s Office, and they tried to be helpful. They connected us with the big, established food distribution networks in the Twin Cities but, ultimately, it didn’t work. Understand that when you’ve lived in a refugee camp, you are given food handouts all the time. Then, when you finally come to this country and find out how hard it is to be self-sufficient, you are still given strange, unfamiliar food. It can be very demoralizing. We needed a new model for an ethnic food shelf, and we created one. ”
The Seward Co-op is an annual donor to the Isuroon Food Shelf through their SEED Project, where shoppers can round up to the nearest dollar in support of a different local non-profit organization each month. Isuroon typically receives $20,000 + from one month’s donations. Weli said, “The Seward Co-op is great. They don’t pressure us to buy foods that aren’t culturally appropriate. We were able to serve 1,100 families with their donations last year, and the size of an average Somali family is seven.”
Isuroon staff members are trained to interact with clients in a way that reflect the agency’s core values of trust, transparency, and empathy. Weli said, “We work relationally, which means that listening is at the heart of everything. What we are trying to do here is replicate what our moms did back home. In the Somali culture, we have our own definition of what makes someone strong. When I meet a Somali woman who can’t read or write, I worship her. Do you know how hard life is when you can’t read or write? We value women for the strengths that they have, rather than judge them for what they lack.”
As an organization, consider requesting an Isuroon speaker to help your group connect with the experiences of Somali women, or to obtain culturally competent consulting and training for health care providers, policymakers and other leaders. As an individual, consider attending a workshop to learn about the Somali community here in the Twin Cities. Weli said, “Our organization has so much to offer. What can we do for you? We’re here to engage communities. Connect with us!”
For more information, go to www.isuroon.org.

“We’re grateful and excited to announce that Isuroon has received a Community Innovation Grant of more than $200,000 from The Bush Foundation. The grant will empower our work to reduce disparities in reproductive health care for African immigrant women in Minnesota with female genital cutting. The voices and needs of women who have experienced female genital cutting will drive this grassroots effort,” said Fartun Weli, Executive Director. “We express gratitude on their behalf.”

Comments Off on Isuroon: A portal to better health

Use Enneagram as tool for self-discovery this year

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Workshop host Holly Johnson shares why she values it and how it is helpful

Holly Johnson teaches workshops locally on the Enneagram.

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Holly Johnson is committed to helping people better understand themselves and others through the Enneagram. She offers regular workshops on this tool. The next is slated for Feb. 11, 2020 from 6-9 p.m. at Squirrel Haus Arts. Go to spiritgarage.org to find out more info and register.
Johnson is also pastor at Spirit Garage, which meets at the Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge. She paused while writing two holiday sermons in December to share a bit more about the Enneagram with the Messenger.
Just what is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is a tool to help us understand how we live, move, see and respond in the world. It lays out nine basic styles of people, though there are an infinite number of expressions of each of the nine numbers.
What drew you to the Enneagram and how have you found it valuable in your own life?
When I was in seminary out in Berkeley, Calif., everyone was talking about it. I was drawn to it because I like tools for self discovery, and also tools for understanding other people.
Some people think its funny to have a pastor do this kind of work; certain kinds of Christianity think that anything that doesn’t come out of the Bible comes from the Devil. I’m not that kind of a pastor. I believe in studying all kinds of things, and self-awareness helps us understand our styles of spirituality better, as well.
What is your Enneagram number?
I understand myself to be a “social two with a three wing, and a super well-traveled 8 line.” And if that doesn’t make sense to you but you’re intrigued, come to a workshop!

Courtesy of the Enneagram Institute

How can people use the Enneagram as a tool for self-discovery?
The Enneagram helps us understand that we see and experience the world in a particular way, like a lens. Understanding that we have a lens, and that it is different from other people’s, helps us see what motivates us, and how that shapes our lives. Sometimes this lens sees things accurately, and sometimes it is distorting things. Bringing an awareness to this helps us see where our way of being is helpful, and where it might be hurting us or others. Once we have that awareness, maybe we can think about a different way to see things or respond.
In what ways can the Enneagram help people live in harmony with others?
Similarly, when we figure out that other people see the world in different ways, and have different motivations, hopefully we can bring some grace into our relationships and quit trying to make everyone believe, act, behave and respond the way we do. For example, one of the types (sixes) is going to plan for all possible problems that might arise before you go on vacation. That’s okay – just let them do that. They’ll be prepared for things you never thought of. Another type (eights) has a tendency to have a pretty large presence in a room, and can be quite intimidating to people. Another type (nines) doesn’t like making decisions, particularly if it means siding with one person and not another. So, if they never have an opinion about where you should go to dinner, that’s probably why.
How can the Enneagram help people achieve better health and wellness?
The Enneagram is a tool for emotional intelligence, so as a tool, it helps us bring awareness (and hopefully grace) to our own way of being, and also helps in relation to one another. Emotional intelligence is an important indicator in job success, and helpful in relationships of all kinds.
What resources do you recommend people use to learn more about the Enneagram?
I’m enjoying “The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. That’s a book and a podcast.

Comments Off on Use Enneagram as tool for self-discovery this year