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Mid-City CAN Blog

Resident leaders discuss Building Healthy Communities


Nutritious food, access to health care, and being able to safely get an education are some of the foundations of a healthier community.

On March 22, about 75 grantees of The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities Initiative came together at the City Heights Family Health Center to network and get updates about the $1 billion state-wide effort.

One highlight of the event was the resident leaders who spoke about the work that different Mid-City CAN momentum teams – focused on those foundation issues – are doing to update the Building Healthy Communities plan. These are edited transcripts of their comments:

Bilal Muya, who came to the U.S. from East Africa, is a City Heights resident and member of the Mid-City CAN Food Justice Momentum Team. The team is working on getting halal foods in schools. Halal is an Islamic term that designates food – most often meat – and its preparation as permissible to eat:

I just arrived in the U.S. in 2004 with my wife. Now I am a parent of two children, and that's really tough.

The problem is children that have skipped the lunch at school because they don't know if it is halal. According to halal, an animal needs to be slaughtered in a certain way. Children are missing going to school and missing lunch – that's what I see.

It should be easier for them. Children are not being fed properly, because the nutrition of the food is not OK. It's not good.

Angeli Hernandez is a City College student and graduate of Hoover high school, who was born in City Heights. She is a member of the Mid-City CAN School Attendance Momentum Team.

The goal of this whole momentum team is to increase school attendance in school, and it doesn't just stop there. It's also to change the environment of the schools and change the expulsion and suspension policy. It is also to improve after-school activities, so school attendance can increase.

My personal reason why I wanted to join this momentum team is because I have a younger brother and sister. One that currently goes to Hoover, and the other goes to Central Elementary. What I've noticed around our community, is there are a lot of students who don't go that much to school. I really want the youth to stay in school because that's where true leadership comes in, and so many of our students aren't graduating high school and going to college.

I did see that there were a lot of students [at Hoover] that were coming in late. It came to the point where they had to suspend them -- from three days to a week -- all that time being at home, they could have used it to learn.

Khadija Mussa spoke through an interpreter about her work in the Mid-City CAN  Access to Health Care Momentum Team.

We have a problem with the language when we go to the hospital or clinic. When we go to the clinics or hospitals there is an access telephone or video translation, but we couldn't find it easily. We need a person to translate face-to face with the doctor for us.

There is one story I have. There was a person who was sick and he took his son to translate. The doctor doesn't know that it was his son, so he told him what the father has. He doesn't have a long life left to live. The son started to cry instead of interpreting. He couldn't control himself.

Khafissa Mohamed spoke in a Somali language through an interpreter about her work in the Mid-City CAN  Access to Health Care Momentum Team. She has a son with diabetes.

I hear and see the problems and issues the community members face regarding language interpretation. For example, nine years ago, I had a 4-year-old and I went to a doctor's appointment with him.

She said, 'Bring an interpreter next time.' So I wanted to tell her, 'You're the doctor, you find me an interpreter,' but I didn't have the language to tell her. I did say it in my language, but she didn't understand. My son has diabetes, and I couldn't take him to see a doctor.

Before coming to San Diego, I was in Ohio where I first found out he had diabetes, and they gave me a three-day training with a qualified interpreter. So I used my own knowledge from that training to support my son.

I switched doctors and went to a different doctor, and this time they still didn't have interpreters.

 I used my own knowledge. I gave him medication as I understood it, and I had no help. So now my son is older. He understands the doctor. He can take care of himself; however, his Somali is very limited now. So for example, recently, there's a pump that he needed. So I asked the nurse for a pump, and she thought I said bomb, so she was terrified. Issues like that are why I wanted to get involved.

At the momentum team we surveyed 206 people to understand what they're needs are before we chose this language goal. This is why the team as chosen this campaign, and it's this campaign that draws people to the team and makes them want to get more involved.

We had an event at Colina Park, and at that time we were collecting petitions – we have 600 now. In March, we had about 53 people come to the momentum team of various cultures and languages including Eritrean, Somali, and Spanish. We see that this issue affects all of us. God willing, we're going to continue this campaign and not stop until we succeed.


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The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive,Quotation (Right)
and healthy community through collaboration, advocacy, and organizing.

Fiscal sponsor Mission Edge San Diego.