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Cultural Diversity and Non-formal Health Education in Dzaleka Refugee Camp

Malawi is one of the African countries that hosts thousands of refugees mostly from Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and other African countries. These refugees come from various cultural backgrounds. Their cultural diversity is visible in languages, tribes, spiritual beliefs, food, dances and etiquette. Even though these refugees are all around the country, their concentration at Dzaleka Refugee Camp is usually over 10,000 at any given period of the year. Amidst the refugees finding a relatively safe place in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, they however face community health challenges as any other reasonably stable community. In worst cases, health challenges in the camp are worse than the surrounding communities. In response to these health challenges, the need for a hygienic environment and health community members, various organizations provide non-formal health education in the camp. These organizations come from within and outside the camp. Non-formal health education in the camp strives to help the community use the information for sanitary living as a preventative measure to illness. However, non-formal health education finds itself taking place in this culturally diverse community. This project interviewed 40 non-formal health education participants in the community to inquire about their views on cultural diversity's interaction with non-formal health education. This project finds that communication, personal value judgement and lack of non-formal health education resources are the main perceived challenges that cultural diversity poses in non-formal health education in the camp. Finally, the project finds that creating a support system through recruiting local staff and making use of community relationships are key strategies in adapting non-formal health education in such a culturally diverse community.
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