IPL organizes Refugee Women Leadership Academy

IPL held our first session of the Refugee Women Leadership Academy with 22 refugee women and their allies on Thursday, April 25th at Augustana Lutheran. Tanya Good, Nurse and Care Coordinator at Florence Clinic, discussed women’s health issues and accessing care when you lack insurance.

Group picture
Refugee Women and allies talk to Tanya Good

This session and each of the upcoming sessions will begin with time for making new friends over a dinner from one of the refugee cultures. This will be followed by a presentation and discussion led by an Omaha woman who is an expert in the topic and interested in helping refugees succeed. Each session will end with discussion about how the women can take this information back to their communities and work together to make changes in policies and laws that would benefit women and their families.

Three Karenni Women
Kareni Women enjoy new friends & dinner

Child care and interpretation will be provided for those who register by calling 402-344-4401 or by email at iplomaha@gmail.com.

The next three sessions will all be at Augustana Lutheran (3647 Lafayette Ave) from 6:00 to 7:45 pm :

Thursday May 7 –How to resolve conflicts in the best way
Thursday May 21—Housing and how to deal with landlords
Thursday, June 4 –How to use Consumer Credit, Credit Cards and buying a car

Food for the night
Great Nepali food from Druk LLC Restaurant

300 people attend lively Refugee Culture Night

Despite heavy snow fall, over 100 young adults from ten refugee communities shared their dance, song and music with a lively and diverse audience of over 300  people on Saturday, November 15 at the 3rd Refugee Cultural Night.

Burundian  community Chiors
Burundian Choir sang and danced

The dance performances ranged from highly stately traditional dances by the ethnic groups from Myanmar to a very upbeat traditional dance number by young women from the Acholi community of South Sudan.  Performance included the traditional leaping dance of the Darufuri men as well as sizzling contemporary dance numbers by Bhutanese youth who were dancing to Nepali tunes.

Darfur Men
Darfuri leaping dance
Rhakang community
Rhakang perform stately dance
Acholi Community
Acholi youth in fun dance
Kachin community
Kachin youth enjoy traditional dance


There was great ethnic food before including Noodles from Mynamar, Mandazi from Burundi, Namkin from Bhutan and tapioca from Burma. Generous sponsors and those who donated at the door helped raise $3000 which was distributed to the groups to help them continue their cultural education and performances.

Mungyit and Suzanne Doupnik
Time for making new friends
Mixed group of kids dancing a final dance
And time to “bust a move” at the end


Refugee Women participate in Civic Academy in January and February

Ten refugee women from Africa and Asia attended the four sessions of the Women Refugee Civic Academy in January and February.  Women from South Sudan, Burundi, Congo and Burma attended the four sessions where they learned how to solve problems for their families and how to understand the role of school, city, state and federal governments.

In the first session, the women learned about how public education is organized in the United States and Omaha and how they can help their children be successful in school. After looking over a map of the 11 different school districts in the Omaha area, the women learned about how children can enroll in their local school or seek to transfer to a school which might suit their interests better. The women learned about the importance of early childhood education and it was a topic of great interest as over half  had a child that was would soon be eligible for those programs.

Session 1 Saturday 2
Saturday morning session discussing school districts and how to help children succeed
Session 1 Tuesday 2
Tuesday evening group discussing the role of City of Omaha in creating a decent place to live

The refugee women were also most interested in the discussion about how you form a good working relationship with their child’s teacher, especially when there was a language barrier. The women enjoyed sharing their positive and not so positive experiences talking to teachers and relating to US schools and agreed that the relationship with teachers was very important to develop.

Subsequent sessions focused on the role of the City, State and federal governments in the United States and the role of the citizen in educating  our elected officials about community issues.

Over 160 people attended January “Issue Cafés” at Urban Abbey in January

IPL helps leaders of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) organize educational and training events around issues that have surfaced out of hundreds of individual and small group meetings in OTOC member congregations and community organizations.

OTOC  was selected as Urban Abbey’s non-profit partner during January, 2015. IPL worked with OTOC leaders  to organize three “Issue Cafés” to discuss important issues facing Omaha and Nebraska and a fun event celebrating the diversity of our city. Over 160 people attended the issue discussions and the evening of Mexican Bingo (Lotería).

Mexican Bingo Night 2015
Mexican Bingo is a fun evening with good food, friends and a chance to practice your Spanish

Forty five people started the month off with a fun and enjoyable evening playing Mexican Bingo, eating Mexican food  and trying out their knowledge of Spanish language and culture.

Appleseed Lawyer
OTOC leaders worked with Nebraska Appleseed staff to learn why Nebraska needs Medicaid Reform

OTOC leaders put aside and focused on the challenging issue of Medicaid Reform on Thursday, January 15. Thirty two OTOC leaders met with Nebraska Appleseed Attorney Molly McCleery to better understand LB 472 which was filed to reform the current Medicaid program to make it more efficient and to cover more working families who need access to affordable health insurance.

The following week, 42 OTOC leaders from the OTOC Immigration Reform Action Team met with Justice For Our Neighbors Attorney Shane Ellison and College of St. Mary Senior Daniela Rojas to learn more about the legal basis for Obama Administration changes to federal policy regarding deportation of persons coming to the US as children and the parents of US citizen children.  Daniela, an accomplished young woman who would benefit from the newest changes to federal policy, described how challenging it was to pursue higher education when so many careers were closed off to her because of her immigration status.

Shane Ellison
JFON Lawyer Shane Ellison gave a terrific overview of federal immigration law and Deferred Action

Finally, Ken Winston of the Mary Ruth Hegemon of the OTOC Sustainability Action Team taught over 40 people about findings of the Nebraska Climate study conducted by top UNL Scientists and Sierra Club lobbyist Ken Winston discussed 7 bills pending in the Nebraska Unicameral that could impact the sustainability of the environment.

Ken Winston
Ken Winston of Sierra Club gave a careful overview of bills affecting the environment that are pending in the Unicameral