The Somali Women's Information Line at Carlington Community and Health Services is designed to help Somali women settle and integrate into Canadian life. The Line offers support, crisis intervention, outreach, counselling, referrals, advocacy, and other services Somali women might need.
“We try to make life in Canada easier for these women and their families. In Somalia, the ‘social safety net' does not exist. Our job is to tell women about the services that exist in Canada, ” says Marian Abdirahman, co-ordinator for the Line.
The service begins with the first phone call received. Women call with many different kinds of problems, and Marian and the Information Line volunteers respond with a variety of solutions. Problems can range from disputes with neighbours to consultation about a social worker's actions. Or the problems might be might a question about arranging medical care or dealing with government agencies.
Every woman's concerns are different. Some can be solved in one phone call, and others can take several months to resolve. “We know that ‘one size fits all' does not apply to the problems people face, and we try to respond individually to the needs of each caller,” says Phil Moorman, Manager of Primary Care and Intervention.
Marian and the volunteers are also able to provide translation and cultural interpretation, accompanying clients to medical appointments, meetings with schools, and any other situations where assistance is needed.
This service is available to any Somali woman in the Ottawa-Carleton region free of charge. This project is made possible through funding from the Community Foundation, the Regional Government, and the Charles Johnson Foundation.
The phone line is available 24 hours a day to take messages. An encouraging voice speaking Somali, English, and French asks callers to leave a message. Marian or one of two Somali volunteers return the calls as soon as possible during business hours Monday through Friday.
To contact the Information Line, call 722-7033 and leave a detailed message. The workers will be happy to assist in any way they can.