Shanbaro Community Association

The Shanbaro Community Association was created by and supports the 400+ Somali Bantu refugees living in Chelsea and surrounding cities to build a strong community and to resolve significant quality of life issues

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SCA began when Collaborative organizers were conducting interviews with Chelsea residents through a social capital initiative. The organizers came across members of the Somali Bantu community who said they did not have access to resources and yet their community was in need of many services. The Collaborative opened its doors to the Somali Bantu community and helped them fundraise to hire part-time staff to further their efforts. Soon thereafter SCA formalized. Now, SCA members are getting the services they need, are participating in Leadership Institutes, becoming citizens and partnering with Harvard School of Public Health on a research study. Much work remains to be done, but SCA has accomplished much in a few short years.

SCA has accomplished the following:

  • Assisted over 65% of Somali Bantu refugee families in the Greater Boston area to navigate school, government, health care systems and more
  • Held weekly citizenship classes and prepared more than 20 community members to pass the citizenship test.
  • Held trainings in Maay Maay on Safety with the Chelsea Police Dept., Fire Safety, and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Launched a community garden with Green Space in Temple Emmanuel’s side yard.
  • Worked with Harvard University School of Public Health’s Research Program on Children and Global Adversity (RPCGA) to conduct a community based Somali Bantu research project.
  • Held workshops and trainings with the Boston Interpreters Collective to develop a pool of Somali Bantu volunteer community interpreters.

In The News

  • Addressing Health Disparities in the Mental Health of Refugee Children and Adolescents Through Community-Based Participatory Research: A Study in 2 Communities

    There are disparities in the mental health of refugee children and adolescents resettled in the United States compared with youths in the general US population. For instance, the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder and depression among resettled refugee children is estimated to be as high as 54% and 30%, respectively, compared with an estimated 5% (post traumatic stress disorder) and 11% (depression) of youths with these disorders in the general population. In addition to specific psychiatric disorders, refugee youths experience overall greater psychological distress than those in the general population. Youths in the general US population are exposed to adverse events that elevate risk of mental disorders; however, the refugee experience, including flight from country of origin, displacement in a refugee camp, and third country resettlement, increases risk of being exposed to multiple acute and chronic stressors that accumulate and lead to differential mental health outcomes.

  • Davio's in Chestnut Hill hosts cooking class with Bantu Girls

    On Saturday, Feb. 28, Davio’s in Chestnut Hill held a morning cooking class which consisted of pizza, pasta and pastry stations with the Boston Bantu Girls, which is part of the Chelsea Collaborative, a nonprofit organization in Chelsea. The group is composed of Somali Bantu refugees who live in Chelsea and Boston and are 14 to 19 years old. The Boston Bantu girls then taught traditional Somalian dishes to the chefs. This group is designed to provide opportunities to young Bantu women with an emphasis on higher education and future goal setting. In researching careers, many of the young ladies indicated “chef” as a top choice. The girls have many responsibilities in the home, and preparing food for their large families is one of the top priorities. The hope is to inspire the young women to think about potential careers and to expose the young ladies to career options and higher education.

  • Cooking secrets shared at Davio’s

    The Boston Bantu Girls Group, run by the nonprofit Chelsea Collaborative, visited Davio’s in Boston Saturday for a cooking class. Members of the group, who are teen Somali Bantu refugees living around Chelsea and Boston, made pasta and pizza with Davio’s executive chef Steve Lazdowsky and pastry chef Michelle Boland. They also taught the chefs to make traditional Somali dishes.

  • A Living Chain of Tikkun Olam in Chelsea

    Aweis Hussein tends his family’s vegetables in a community garden located at Chelsea’s Temple Emmanuel. He grows okra, tomatoes and corn, staples in his native Somalia. Eleven years ago, Hussein and many from his current Chelsea Somali Bantu community lived in a Kenyan refugee camp. He arrived at the camp in 1991 at the age of 14, in need of protection and sanctuary from the relentless persecution and discrimination the minority Bantus suffered in their homeland. Today, ten years after arriving in Chelsea, he is the community organizer and leader of the SCA (Shanbaro Community Association). The SCA operates under the umbrella of the Chelsea Collaborative, an organization founded in 1988 to enhance the social, economic and environmental health of the Chelsea community and its people. The SCA’s mission is to support the 400+ Somali Bantu refugees living in the greater Boston area as they forge community relationships and adjust to their new surroundings.

  • Reclaiming Childhood

    Theresa Betancourt studies the world's most neglected and traumatized youths. To see full article please follow link below.


  • Chelsea successfully defeats anti-immigrant legislation

    Chelsea organizes two buses full of residents and activists to fight against legislation that would negatively impact immigrant communities like Chelsea. The legislation was successfully defeated!

  • Dozens Gather for Eid Celebration Marking End of Ramadan

    The Shanbaro Community Association celebrated the end of Ramadan with a huge Eid celebration. More than 125 community members packed the Polish Political Club for great food, dancing and fun. City Manager Jay Ash and community members Catherine Maas, Marianne Winship and Lisa Santagate were just a few of many who joined the celebration in support of Shanbaro's community and their efforts in Chelsea.

  • Boston Bantu Girls and Collaborative Staff Climb Fenway Park

    The Boston Bantu Girls and Collaborative staff, led by Cate Maas, climbed Fenway Park, with Brigham and Women's Hospital as part of their "Climb America" campaign to build awareness for cardiovascular disease and heart heath. The girls all raised at least $200 each towards Brigham's campaign and successfully completed the physical challenge.

  • Shanbaro Community Association celebrates World Refugee Day

    The Shanbaro Community Association and the Harvard Research Team collaborated in presenting a wonderful culmination of food, music and dance to celebrate World Refugee Day. This year the Bhutanese community, relatively new to Chelsea, was featured.

  • Chelsea Collaborative Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report Available!

    The Chelsea Collaborative's Annual Report highlighting accomplishments from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 is available now.

  • Chelsea Collaborative's Strategic Plan is Underway

    The Chelsea Collaborative board, staff and members participated in Strategic Planning sessions from January to April. The Popular Education Consultants, Isabel Vinent, Ph.D, Reca Fernandez, Ph.D, and Dawn Adolfson, BA lead the Collaborative through an in depth review of strengths, assets and areas for improvements. More than 125 people participated in the strategic planning sessions and conversations from January to April 2014. The 5 Year Strategic Plan outlines ways for the Collaborative to have an even stronger presence in the community of Chelsea and beyond. The plan itself will be completed in the coming weeks and an executive summary will be available for the public by July 1st. The 5 Year Strategic Plan outlines ways for the Collaborative to have an even stronger presence in the community of Chelsea and beyond. The plan itself will be completed in the coming weeks and an executive summary will be available for the public by July 1st.