Navigating the health care system can be frustrating for anyone. Often immigrants struggle even more than others due to issues with lack of insurance, documentation status, or language barriers. This event, focusing on the experiences of immigrants and their access to healthcare in Philadelphia, explores immigration from a public health perspective through the stories of three local panelists.
This program is presented in partnership with Global Philadelphia.
About the Panel:
Sarun Chan is the Executive Director at the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia. Sarun was born in a refugee camp in Thailand during the aftermath of the Cambodian genocide led by the Khmer Rouge regime. Raised in low-income neighborhoods throughout South Philadelphia, Sarun has an innate reflective nature on the american, immigrant, and refugee experience. He has worked in various community based organizations where he coordinated direct social services, program development, and advocacy on various social issues and disparities including education, health, and community development. From witnessing, experiencing, and living his life in poverty stricken neighborhoods, it has inspired him to further his life’s work to help bring visibility to the under-represented and bridge resource gaps to improve the quality of life for the underserved. Serving diverse communities have enriched Sarun's spirit as an individual and he continues to grow and translate these experiences to better make an impact in our homes, community, and environment.
Zemoria Brandon is the Board Chair of AFRICOM- Philly ( Coalition of African and Caribbean Communities). along with serving as Co-Chair of the Legal and Immigration Committee. She is also the Administrator/ Social Worker for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/ Delaware Valley Chapter, a community -based organization providing supportive services across the lifespan to those living with sickle cell disease. In addition, Zemoria is an ordained interfaith minister.
Paula Umaña has devoted her career to empowering organizations and individuals to reach their highest potential. She has implemented initiatives to promote educational, antipoverty, capacity building, and leadership development enterprises including the launch of the first Hispanic Capacity Building Institute conference in Philadelphia, the programming for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Center for Progressive Leadership, and the establishment of Single Stop at the Community College of Philadelphia. In her current role as Single Stop’s project director, she advances efforts and collaborations to address students’ basic needs connecting them with fundamental resources to ensure their wellbeing and ability to pursue their personal and educational goals. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.
About Becoming U.S.
Becoming U.S. is a series of programs launched by HSP in fall 2016 to encourage sharing across ethnicity, race, and citizenship status. We want to hear and learn from each other about the human endeavor of transition and settlement. Through civic dialogue, we wish to personalize stories often presented in the media in only the broadest of strokes, to foster a mutual respect and renewed appreciation for the histories of all Philadelphians.
Starting with Dutch, Swedish, and English settlers in the 1600s, the Greater Philadelphia Area has been inhabited by wave after wave of immigrants. Many are drawn to the area for personal or familial reasons, while others are fleeing their homes out of political or economic necessity. They arrive documented, under-documented, or undocumented. Regardless of classification, immigrants' contributions are integral to Philadelphia's culture and history.
Philadelphia has always boasted a diverse population, and continues to do so. According to the Brookings Institution, “Among its peer regions, metropolitan Philadelphia has the largest and fastest growing immigrant population, which now stands at over 500,000, comprising 9 percent of the total population.”
Behind these sterile statistics lay vivid, individual experiences detailing the human endeavor of transition and settlement: struggles with assimilation, trials in maintaining cultural identity, and perhaps – finally – success in calling Philadelphia “home.”