Philadelphia’s Caribbean community may seem small and reclusive, but in the past year, the pandemic and racial tensions have uniquely impacted the city’s Caribbean residents. Lamya Broussard is the director and a resident therapist in partnership with Caribbean Community in Philadelphia and shared about the social services needs of the community for which she works.
What called you to this type of work?
I’ve always had a trauma informed lens on life. Different struggles that people have in life. I feel it’s a purpose of mine in life. I have the training in it. I’ve always been connected to the Caribbean Community in Philadelphia [organization].
Generally speaking, what kind of traumas do you have to work through when it comes to the Caribbean community you work with?
At this time, pretty much the main thing to share here is immigrant laws. Just the insecurity, physical insecurity. I’ve been able to help out our Caribbean American community.
How have physical insecurities changed, or how does that look specifically since 2020?
Just making sure to approach it from a very intentional and humanistic approach, and very normalized trauma informed approach. Really understanding the context related to the Caribbean American immigrant. To understand the traumatic effects that the insecurity can have on that community.
What type of problems do you think Caribbean Americans uniquely have to address moving through this new era?
I think, as I had mentioned, just the whole loss of physical security. Navigating that whole process. And navigating it with very trustworthy, very sincere and genuine support. Making sure it’s not being exploited in any way.
When you refer to immigration laws and physical security do you mean risk of deportation? Or what do these losses look like?
No, not just that. When I saw immigrant loss of physical security, that may be just not being able to have the finances that others who are American or who have been naturalized have been able to have that access to naturally. Access to the stimulus package or even just physical security. Whether it’s housing situations that have had to change, whatever your status is. When COVID-19 hit, it caused many people to fall out of status. Even international students.
What sort of organizations or resources can people reach out to for aid?
There are, as I had mentioned earlier, support we have done through Caribbean Community or other organizations partnered with. In order to help persons navigate through that.
How does social services intervene?
Helping and supporting the emotional regulation of that [loss of physical security]. That can be very traumatizing as an immigrant community. Not being understood. Not being treated in a humanistic way. Could be very traumatizing while just trying to navigate just all the COVID-19 changes that are upon our community.
What do you suggest is the first step in working on these laws and bringing more physical security to the community?
For us, just continue to be available. Just continue to provide and offer individualized therapeutic support to those who may be trying to just regulate their emotions and mental wellness at this time. That they’re in the middle of a lot of transition processes from COVID-19. That’s the first step. Continue to be there. Be a support that’s genuinely there.
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