Sunday, August 04, 2013
Female students kept approaching Brianda Cediel with questions about women’s health.
is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Hands Across the
World. The organization teaches Central Minnesota immigrants language
and life skills. It celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Most of the more than 100 students in its programs come from Somalia, although it serves immigrants from around the world.
organization always has adapted its curriculum to the needs and wants
of its students. After pregnant students started asking about women’s
health and pregnancy, it partnered 18 months ago with St. Cloud
Hospital’s Women’s & Children’s Center to provide education.
Parents and children work together on an art project during a
parenting class for new mothers recently at Hands Across the World in
St. Cloud. The St. Cloud nonprofit is celebrating 10 years in operation
this year. / Times photo
Somali women are particularly interested in the pregnancy classes.
is a learning opportunity for them,” Cediel said. “The main reason why
is because the women coming to this country haven’t seen how the baby is
forming in the womb.”
Child birth in Somalia is dangerous.
has the third-worst infant morality rate in the world, according to the
Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book. About 102 infant deaths
result from 1,000 live births in 2013.
country has the second-worst maternal mortality rate. According to the
CIA, 1,000 female deaths resulted from 100,000 live births in 2010.
are a lot of myths and fears,” said Deb Hall, director of outpatient
and outreach services for the hospital’s Women’s & Children’s
Center. “Any time a mom understands what will happen and what to expect,
it’s a better experience.”
pregnancy class is offered as needed. But women’s health, parenting and
infant care topics also are covered in a general health care class,
which is held every other week during the school year at the Mary Center
in St. Cloud, where Hands Across the World is located.
St. Cloud Hospital has covered issues such as immunizations, infant choking and infant CPR. Registered nurses teach the classes.The
classes use plastic models, videos and pictures to explore everything
from labor to the delivery of the baby. They also discuss the importance
of child spacing and allowing the woman’s body to heal. Birth control
is not discussed because the hospital is a Catholic facility.
“We adapt the curriculum to what the students are interested in,”
Hall said. “They have never seen the inside of a body. What we take for
granted, they see as all new.”
have been tailored to the immigrants’ cultures. Somali elders and older
women attended the first pregnancy classes. The classes also were open
to midwives who practiced in Somalia.
The two cultures were able to learn about each other.
was a really good discussion,” said Sharon Dunham, Women’s &
Children’s Center education specialist. “It facilitated a learning
process for both parties.”
Word spread once the elders and older women gave their approval.
That approval is “enormous,” Hall said of the Somali population.
Instructors work with the students to pace the classes and provide education on topics for which they want information.
such as males respecting women, are also covered by an imam in
Minneapolis. An imam is a person who holds a leadership position in the
It helps show the students the importance of the education.
Mothers want the same thing around the world, Hall and Dunham said. The classes help immigrants achieve the common goals.“They want to be healthy,” Hall said. “They want their kids to be strong.”