Asylee Women Enterprise, Interview #1



Asylee Women Enterprise, Interview #1


A conversation providing insight as to how female asylum seekers to the US are coping through COVID-19, with an emphasis on relief work. Also provides excellent insight as to support organizations, and different types of support they can provide beyond community during the pandemic through community building and guidence through trauma.
Asylee Women Enterprise, also known as "AWE," journeys with asylum seekers and other forced migrants as they navigate the immigration legal process, begin to heal from past trauma and rebuild their lives in Baltimore. While each asylum seeker has a unique personal situation, the general profile includes having fled their country of origin, often on very short notice including overnight, due to their lives being at risk. This is usually because of persecution for political, religious or ethnic reasons. Many have been the victims of torture, rape or other forms of extreme violence. Most arrive alone, without family, friends or local community ties; many have been lost or separated from a spouse or child. They arrive in need of safe housing, language skills, counseling for PTSD and depression, support navigating other resources (medical, legal, mental health) and material needs (food, shelter). Individuals served range in age from 0 - 75 and are primarily from Africa, the Middle East and Central America. Since asylum seekers are not eligible to work in the initial stages of their legal process and are ineligible for means tested benefits, nearly 100% of our clients are living below the federal poverty line with no access to traditional safety nets, unemployment insurance or the federal stimulus that others impacted by COVID-19 have been able to access.

The CSRC grant will be used to scale pantry operations, client advocacy and other supports to community members (primarily asylum seekers and immigrants with uncertain legal status) that are largely neglected in broader initiatives due to their language, immigration status, lack of familiarity with resources and limited transportation.

Table Of Contents

00:03:00 Organizational mission; assessment of relief work before coronavirus; community building
00:06:50 Assessment of relief work before coronavirus; community building
00:11:45: Assessment of relief work during coronavirus; Understanding the pandemic and government responses to it
00:15:00 Assessment of relief work during coronavirus; New rituals/practices to accommodate social distancing requirements
00:21:30 New rituals/practices to accommodate social distancing requirements; community building; survival and previous experiences with trauma
00:23:33 Assessment of relief work; community building; celebrating and finding joy
00:25:14 Community building; survival and previous experiences with trauma


Date Created

August 7, 2020


Iman AbdoulKarim
Fatima Bamba
Kayla Wheeler (advisor)


Tiffany Nelms


Asylee Women Enterprise






oral history


Relief Work
Community Building
Mental Health
Asylum Seekers
Well Being
Religious Freedom
Virtual Learning