Omar Bah

Omar Bah
Location: Providence , Rhode Island Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Addiction and Substance Abuse, Arts in Health and Healing, Behavioral and Mental Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Health Care Access, Health Care Quality, Immigrants and Refugees, Leadership Development, Public Policy, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice, Social Sector/Non-Profit, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children and Families, Drug/Alcohol/Tobacco Users, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Migrant Workers, People with Addictions, Victims of Crime
Refugee Dream Center; Global Survivor Leadership Institute; Attuned & Inclined LLC

Omar Bah’s focus area is refugees and their support needs in integrating into American society—for self-sufficiency, for preservation of their life and cultural identities, and for addressing cultural barriers to accessing and seeking health and mental services.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Building a Collaborative to Support BIPOC Refugees & Immigrants
My strategic initiative centers on communities of color adversely affected by inequitable health, education, and law enforcement systems. It prioritizes refugees and immigrants but is inclusive of all BIPOC. Currently, poor and low-income communities of color bear the brunt of the burden for neglect through lack of knowledge, access, and distrust of service providers, due to language and cultural barriers. Refugee communities must navigate this while also coping with widespread poverty, inadequate housing, limited transportation access, and food insecurity. This initiative approaches these issues by targeting and training healthcare professionals, social workers, law enforcement officials, and educators on topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, culturally attuned care, trauma-informed teaching, resiliency, wellbeing, issues of access and stigma in healthcare, and methods of building community trust in law enforcement. There will be two main branches of collaborators: one consisting of national/local community coalitions, who will participate in outreach and event organizing, and the other of the previously described stakeholders, who represent a wraparound of all the social determinants of health. The initiative intends to create long-lasting, systemic change on a national scale.

Omar is an ardent advocate of refugee rights. He derives his motivation from his experience as a journalist who was exiled from his home country, the Republic of The Gambia, forcing him to relocate to Ghana. When the U.S. government resettled him in Rhode Island as a refugee in May 2007, he began to realize that there was more work that needed to be done beyond his initial work in journalism. He was experiencing trauma and loneliness as he was the only refugee from his native country residing in Rhode Island at that time. He had no connection to the wider Gambian immigrant community. This, and his lack of preparation to live in a completely new place, together created a sense of urgency to find solutions and catapulted him into refugee community leadership. He became a recognizable voice in refugee advocacy both in Rhode Island and across the country. This culminated in his founding of the Refugee Dream Center, which combines advocacy with direct services for refugees to meet their English language, health promotion, youth mentoring, and case management needs.


Click here to watch Omar’s Legacy Project video.