Student to take lead on project to improve health of area refugees

December 1, 2017

A master’s student, faculty member and alumnus of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health have been awarded a Kenan-Biddle Partnership grant to improve health and wellness among refugee communities in the Triangle (N.C.) area.

Meagan Clawar

Meagan Clawar

Dr. Dilshad Jaff

Dr. Dilshad Jaff

Meagan Clawar, Master of Science in Public Health student in health policy and management, Dilshad Jaff, MD, MPH, adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health and program coordinator for solutions to complex emergencies in the Gillings School’s Research, Innovation and Global Solutions office, and Michael Wilson, MPH, 2014 Gillings School alumnus in health behavior, will work on the project with Duke University partners Raha Khademi, Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) student at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and Tom Nicholson, MIDP, executive director of the nonprofit Advance Access & Delivery (AA&D) and associate in research at Duke’s Center for International Development.

Alumnus Wilson is a member of the leadership team at AA&D. Students Clawar and Khademi will lead the grant opportunity, with Jaff and Nicholson serving in advisory roles.

Through close collaboration with Refugee Community Partnership, (RCP) in Carrboro, N.C., and the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) in Greensboro, N.C., the team will use community-identified priorities to support existing programs for refugee families and individuals living in N.C.’s Orange and Durham counties.

While many valuable services are available upon a refugee’s arrival to the U.S., few are sustained beyond the first six months. Long-term, community-based support for refugee communities is often patchwork, at best, leading to significant gaps in access to critical health and social services.

The project’s goal is to raise standards for service delivery to refugees through an accompaniment model, aimed at empowering and mentoring the refugee community as they work to accomplish their own goals. The project team will develop an open-source training manual and an updatable, user-friendly service map that can be shared widely to promote high-quality services to communities in need.

The grant project, which links UNC, Duke, RCP, CNNC and AAD, marks the start of a plan to address the current state of refugee support and amplify the innovative and successful support models currently employed by RCP and CNNC.

“Rethinking the way we, as a community, address refugee support requires bringing a diverse group of experts together – a group that must include refugees, as they are the true experts about their own experiences,” Clawar said. “Our team has robust connections to the local refugee community, and we are excited to dedicate ourselves to improving the health and well-being of refugees as we continue listening to and learning from that community.”

The Kenan-Biddle Partnership is funded by the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation to promote collaboration between students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to solve social or environmental issues.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu