Somali refugees have been in Arizona for more than 5 years, but their English language skills are lacking it seems according to data collected on the distribution of Coronavirus informational videos.
Videos in Somali are the most watched of ten videos produced by refugee advocates to teach them how to avoid spreading the virus.
Produced In 10 Languages For Arizona Refugees, COVID-19 Safety Videos Reach 70,000
The official language of the African nation Burundi is named Kirundi. Julie Ngiriye speaks it and other languages, which is why the social worker and care coordinator helped make an informational video about the coronavirus for Burundian refugees living in Arizona and beyond.
“I know the struggles they go through for having going through the same struggles myself,” she said.
In the video, Ngiriye explained how to wash your hands. She also talked about social distancing, not sharing plates or food utensils, and sneezing into your elbow. The goal, she said, is to inform.
“How it is really pandemic, not a simple disease,” she said.
The video is one of 10 produced in different languages. They feature Ngiriye, staff called cultural health navigators, and a doctor at Valleywise Health’s Pediatric Refugee Clinic.
“It is actually the best medium to be able to reach the majority of them in the community,” Ngiriye said, and noted that many refugees don’t read or write.
The doctor said shared apartments, jobs with no sick leave, and limited child care options make refugees especially vulnerable to COVID-19. As the coronavirus started to sweep through Arizona, state officials and Valleywise Health joined forces to make safety videos in languages like Swahili, Karen and Arabic.
In less than a month, the 10 videos have been watched on YouTube about 70,000 times. The video done in Somali has the most views. A local leader said it’s because most of the Somali community has been here for years. Making sure newer arrivals also get the message is the hard part.
If you are wondering, Maay Maay is another language spoken by some Somali people—the Bantu.
See my post a few days ago about how language barriers helped spread the Chinese virus at Smithfield Foods in South Dakota.