News & Press: Updates

SSCA is now the Refugee Empowerment Center, and thanks for renewing!

Monday, September 28, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kelly Koepsell
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The SSCA is now the Refugee Empowerment Center!!

Mission & Vision

SSCA Omaha’s mission is to resettle refugees, provide programs to assist into their transition, and promote cultural, educational, social and economic development opportunities in their new communities.  SSCA program participants establish a new life in Omaha, founded on the dignity of economic self-support and inclusion in opportunities which Americans enjoy.

SSCA Omaha envisions a world where communities welcome all refugees and immigrants. We see ourselves as catalysts in the work of building welcoming communities.  In addition, we aim to build relationships within, and a cross-cultural understanding between the Omaha and refugee communities

SSCA assists refugees while making the transition from their own culture to American life, helping them become able to live and work productively, support their families, get an education and a better life for themselves and their children. Our goal is to support newcomers as they integrate into their new community and obtain the skills that are essential for economic self-sufficiency.

SSCA is an affiliate organization of the Ethiopian Community Development Council located in Arlington, Virginia. ECDC receives its cases from the U.S. State Department and assigns them to an affiliate organization. The U.S. State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees & Migration works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to determine which refugees from which refugee camps are able to resettle to the United States. Southern Sudan Community Association (SSCA) is a community-based , Nebraska 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation.

Purpose

The purpose of the organization is to assist refugees to learn to work and live in their new culture in order to provide better lives for them and their families. SSCA thoroughly understands that newly arriving refugees require a great deal of assistance to adjust from primitive lives in refugee camps to fast-paced America society. Thus, SSCA relies heavily on support from the Omaha community to successfully equip refugees with the necessary skills to be effective and successful members of the community.

History

Omaha has long been an immigrant community. Omaha provides Midwestern values, civic-minded people, low cost of living, and relatively easily accessible entry level employment opportunities as in the meat packing industry. Migrant farmers moved from rural Nebraska to Omaha and formed Polish, German, Italian, Bohemian, and various other ethnic communities. Korean and Hispanic communities began to grow. The Hmong population and then Sudanese refugees began entering the Omaha community.

In 1997 founder and former Executive Director, Tor Kuet migrated to Omaha with a friend and began the Southern Sudan Community Association. Tor realized that the transition of a refugee from a refugee camp to the fast-paced American culture is very difficult. When issues such as language barriers, illiteracy, and transportation are added, there are even more obstacles to overcome. The organization began with one English language class and a handful of volunteers. SSCA received its first federal grant from Office of Refugee Resettlement in 1998.

Beginning in 2001 federal fiscal year, SSCA became a refugee resettlement agency serving as an affiliate of Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) and the Department of State through the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. In fiscal year 2004, SSCA began to resettle refugees beyond its traditional Sudanese caseload. SSCA has resettled refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, and Sudan.

In 2001, Tor Kuet initiated a conversation with the Nebraska State Refugee Coordinator in an effort to bring community service providers together to help solve issues facing refugees. The first meetings were in collaboration with the American Red Cross. This Omaha Refugee Task Force has grown since then and now includes many agencies including health, education, housing, and employment. This task force meets and works together to solve issues and enhance programs for refugees. SSCA’s Executive Director, Ann Marie Kudlacz is the current co-chair of the Omaha Refugee Task Force.  SSCA Omaha provides cultural and diversity training opportunities to organizations and corporations.

SSCA was established by refugees for the express purpose of assisting those refugees who came after them to learn to work and live within their new culture, and to provide better lives for themselves and their families. SSCA currently employs refugees as well as former refugees, who thoroughly understand the assistance required, barriers to overcome, and problems to solve before a refugee can orientate and operate successfully within their new society.

Since established SSCA has resettled 1,665 refugees through September 30, 2012. The majority of the refugees resettled by SSCA in last two fiscal years are from Bhutan and Burma (Bhutanese, Burmese, Chin, Karen), with smaller numbers of refugees resettled from Africa, Iraq and Somalia. These are the predominant ethnic groups in the Omaha area and have established leadership and support organizations.

Our Programs

The goals of SSCA programs are to educate refugees and support them as they obtain the skills that are essential for integration and stability. SSCA programs assist refugees in making the transition from their own culture to American life, helping them become able to live and work productively, support their families, get an education and a better life for themselves and their children. SSCA programs are designed to reduce the barriers refugees face, assisting them refugees to integrate into their new country, improving their overall standard of living and quality of life, and ultimately achieving economic self-sufficiency.

Through direct Case Management, English Language Training, Financial Literacy, Household Management, Cultural Orientation, Employment Skills Training, Job Class, Transportation Training, and Driver Education Training, SSCA has been successful at assisting refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency within their first 90 days after arrival. The success of SSCA in assisting refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency has decreased their dependency on public assistance funds.

Of the 76 refugee families resettled during the past fiscal year, 82% achieved economic self-sufficiency within the first four months of arrival.

Over the years SSCA’s programs and services have changed as the challenges and barriers, as well as faces of the refugee communities have changed. SSCA has been assisting refugees in Omaha for fifteen years. SSCA continues to remain committed to the serving the refugees, as well as educating and engaging the community.