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Cultural Approaches to Pediatric Palliative Care in Central Massachusetts: Somalis

This subject guide is a collaborative project with the Children's Medical Center Pediatric Palliative Care Team, the Lamar Soutter Library, and Interpreter Services.

Somali

Somali

 

Religious Practices:  Almost all Somalis are Sunni Muslims

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural/health_workers/islamgde.pdf

http://www.cal.org/CO/bantu/sbrelig.html

Family Structure:

The IOM reports that the average Bantu family consists of between four and eight children, often with a number of very young children, and that a nuclear family typically includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives. Most Bantu adults also consider themselves members of more than one family. A married woman, for example, retains membership in her father's family.

Daily life may vary slightly from one Bantu family to another, but, generally Bantu society is a patriarchal one in which the father is the main provider and the mother is the general manager of the family's domestic affairs. However, for some lower Juba Bantu who have maintained their east African language and culture, traditional rituals are passed down through the mother. Increasingly, women are playing a role in helping provide for the family. Bantu children typically work alongside their parents on the family farm and participate with adults in some traditional ceremonies.

The Bantu maintain their traditional hospitality and support toward extended families in times of trouble. In fact, their hospitality extends to outsiders who are in need of help. For example, when neighboring pastoral communities lose their animals due to drought and disease, they are welcomed to settle with the Bantu communities. In these cases, a house is built and a piece of farm land assigned to the newcomer under a rental agreement known as doonfuul or berkaber, which means sharecropping.

http://www.cal.org/CO/bantu/sblife.html

Food:  http://ethnomed.org/clinical/nutrition/somali-diet-excerpts

http://ethnomed.org/clinical/nutrition/somali-diet-report

Alternative Medicine: http://ethnomed.org/clinical/oral-health/som-oral-health

Health Proxy/Advance Directives/End of Life/Death Rituals:

Somalis bury their dead the same day or within twenty-four hours. Autopsy is not acceptable, except for criminal investigation. Post-mortem organ donation is not generally known to the Somali community and hence not encouraged, but blood transfusion is not taboo in Somali culture.

Somalis tend to accept illness and death as coming from God. Their attitude is “For every disease sent by Allah (Arabic for “God”), he also sends a cure, except the one that kills you.” They vigorously try to find a cure for any illness that afflicts them. They will seek out a cure sent by Allah. They routinely try to find a second opinion and sometimes resort to alternative healers. If they are cured, they take it as God’s will. If not, that is also seen as part of God’s plan. Somalis are more accepting of death once it occurs. This may be interpreted as fatalism.

http://ethnomed.org/clinical/end-of-life/somali-funeral-traditions

For more information:  http://ethnomed.org/clinical/somali

Somali Bantu: http://ethnomed.org/culture/somali-bantu/somali-bantu-refugees

http://www.cal.org/CO/bantu/sbcult.html

Somalis

 

 SOMALIA

General Cultural Information: Somalia is on the outer edge of the Somali Peninsula, also called the Horn of Africa, on the East African coast. It is bordered on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the east by the Indian Ocean, on the southwest by Kenya, and on the west and northwest by Ethiopia and Djibouti. Somalia is composed mostly of farmers and herders. Nomads raise camels, cattle, and sheep. The community is based on clans, whose roots trace back to the 12th century. Art is highly appreciated in the form of poetry, music and dance. Culture is passed down generations through storytelling, and singing. In 1990, there was an outbreak of a civil war, resulting in anarchy. This is when refugees started to flee to the U.S. 

Family Structure: The average Bantu family consists of between four and eight children, often with a number of very young children, and a nuclear family typically includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives.  Most Bantu adults also consider themselves a member of more than one family.  A married woman, for example, retains membership in her father's family.

Daily life may vary slightly from one Bantu family to another, but generally Bantu society is a patriarchal one in which the father is the main provider and the mother is the general manager of the family's domestic affairs. For some lower Juba Bantu who have maintained their east African language and culture, traditional rituals are passed down through the mother.  Increasingly, women are playing a role in helping provide for the family. Bantu children typically work alongside their parents on the family farm and participate with adults in some traditional ceremonies.

The Bantu maintain their traditional hospitality and support toward extended families in times of trouble.  In fact, their hospitality extends to outsiders who are in need of help.  For example, when neighboring pastoral communities lose their animals due to drought and disease, they are welcomed to settle with the Bantu communities. In these cases, a house is built and a piece of farm land is assigned to the newcomer under a rental agreement known as doomful or berkaber, which means sharecropping.

Religious Practice: Almost all Somalis are Sunni Muslims, with interest in Sufi spiritualism.

Food in Daily Life: Camel, goat, and cow milk and meat are the major source of food. Sheep and goat liver are also consumed in special occasions. Grain, honey, dates, rice and tea are the staple goods. Farmers grow corn, beans, sorghum, millet, squash and other fruits and vegetables. Boiled millet and rice are staples, however rice must be imported. Flat bread made from ground corn flour is most popular. Butter and sugar, and honey are used as a means of flavoring. Pork and alcohol are forbidden from their diet.

Communication Style: Boasting is considered socially inappropriate. Talking in a loud tone is not considered rude, it is actually the normal style of communication among friends. Somalis are very expressive, however the communication is a little indirect. Family honor is very important, elders are highly respected, they are greeted first. Men are the head of the family. Men may shake hands with other men, however, a woman and a man are not to have physical nor eye contact.

Concepts of Health and Wellness: Health is seen in a religious perspective. People are to care for their health through proper diet. Illness may be linked to God's will, sometimes even punishment. Somalis have a strong believe in the jinn (mortal spirits). Some serious illnesses are believed to be caused by the jinn. To rid the body of the jinn, exorcism is sometimes practiced. Somali folk medicine is often practiced especially when there is no access to medical care. When medical care is available, they seek help.

Death and Afterlife: Death is viewed as a will of God. It is acceptable to express grief. After death, body, arms, legs are straightened, and eyes are closed. The toes are fastened together with bandage and body is covered with a sheet. Body is washed ritually by the same sex, and same religion. Embalming is not accepted, and body must be buried as soon as possible.  

Local Community Information:

The Somali Developmental Center

203-205 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

 617 522-7484 

Somali Bantu Community

203 Circuit Avenue

West Springfield, MA 01089-4030

413 209-9468 

Islamic Society of Greater Worcester

57 Laurel Street
Worcester, MA 01605-3069
508 752-4377

Worcester Islamic Center
248 East Mountain Street
Worcester MA, 01606

508 595-0298

http://www.wicmasjid.org/

 References:

Countries and their Culture:  Somalia.  Retrieved from  http://www.everyculture.com/Sa-Th/Somalia.html#ixzz1Q7TUyWe8

SOMALI BANTU - their history and culture.  Retrieved from http://www.cal.org/CO/bantu/sblife.html

Diversity Council:  Links Somali.  Retrieved from  http://www.diversitycouncil.org/links_somali.shtml