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Tuesday
Sep022008

African Diaspora Research

My research with the African Diaspora in Argentina has allowed me to get to know the groups of the African Diaspora in that country. In the country, the African Diaspora can be divided into three major groups. The first, which I am primarily focusing my research on, is the group of African descendents from slaves from the colonial period. The second is the group of immigrants and descendents from Cape Verde, a nation of a group of islands off the coast of West Africa. The third group and most recently visible population in the country are recent immigrants from West Africa. In this journal entry, I would like to talk a little bit about this third group.

Through a community cultural event, I had the opportunity to meet a representative of Tutor de Refugiados, an organization that is sponsored through the Public Defender’s office of the Argentine government. The organization offers legal, psychological and emotional support to African refugees under the age of 21. A visit to their organization gave me insight into African immigrants to the country. I learned that because of the political and economic situations in their home countries, people from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, and numerous other West African countries jump on whatever boat they can find and hope that it will bring them to a land of greater promise. This is how a number of African refugees arrive to Argentina. They do not know where they are headed; they are simply looking for a better life. They are given very little food or water on the journey across the Atlantic and once they are a short distance from the ports of Argentina, the ship captains tell the survivors of the trek that they must jump and swim to shore because the captains can’t bring in people to the country. Afterwards, the survivors of the entire ordeal scratch out a living by selling jewelry or trinkets on the street. 

The organization attempts to help out and give them any help they need. Mainly of the people who come to the organization were former children soldiers or have experienced horrific events. Thus, the organization provides psychological services and counseling to help on the mental side. They also push to gain citizenship for the newcomers as with citizenship, they can enroll in school and legally have a job. Spending time with the newly arrived immigrants was great. Their stories are tragic, but their will to survive and succeed in life is incredible. Many lost their parents when they were very young, many saw their parents get slaughtered, many have seen such horrible things at such a young age that most will never see in a lifetime. But they always keep going on. Their motivation to work, learn the language and support themselves was amazing and inspiring. I feel very grateful to have met these immigrants and I hope I can help out a bit by spreading their story to the world. 

 

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