The refugee population in Grand Forks is particularly struggling with adjustment and acculturation, including the English language acquisition. Some elderly experienced difficulties in building relationships with their children and grandchildren in a new cultural environment coupling with the language barrier issue. It is indeed a real challenge for the elderly refugees whose authority and status are questioned in the family and community by younger family/community members who can simply communicate in English and do most of the translations for the elderly. Moreover, the trauma often induces self-doubt, changes in self-image, and they have problem accessing medical care and translation services, and facing hardships in navigating American life in general while coping with feelings of nostalgia, isolation, depression, and the loss of social status in general. Minority elderly especially the refugee population has been facing tremendous hardship throughout centuries in our history. They immigrated to this country through family reunification, refugee resettlement program or other reasons. Very likely, they are not receiving Social Security and are totally dependent on family members and the government for support. Elderly who are 65 and up are qualified to receive SSI, and the amount varies depending on individual cases (from $400 to $675). Some elderly especially those from Bhutan have stayed in Refugee camps for as long as sixteen years before they arrived the US. Most of them have a lot of physical and emotional health issues. Adjustment to a new life can be slow and painful even for those who maintain close ties with family. Refugees suffer more problems than do other immigrants: hardship and torture in their own countries; lack of choice or planning in leaving; racism, and poverty (Kelley P, 1994).
Social workers should recognize the problems and obstacles in serving the minority, who have real and urgent unmet needs and respond with appropriate interventions after assessing their needs. Group work could assist refugees to improve their level of social functioning and overall quality of life. Creative use of group treatment modality can no doubt provide psychosocial support to refugees who are struggling to make some sense out of all the pain and hardship in lives. It provides healing to group members as documented in many existing literatures. (For example, a small grassroots community-based organization in New York City has created an African Women’s Wellness Group for African female refugees with a history of refugee trauma, war, and human rights abuses. The facilitators have successfully enhance a traditionally Western psychotherapeutic intervention and provide meaningful treatment to a displaced and traumatized