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Making a Living

For Somali Bantus in Somalia, work primarily consisted of farming. The whole family participated, even children who often had the job of scaring away monkeys and birds in order to protect the crops. The most common crops grown included maize, beans, and sesame. These crops were harvested mostly to feed the family, although some were sold as cash crops and some were exchanged with Somali pastoralist families for milk and meat. Women spent much of their time in food preparation, men built most of the family furniture, and community work groups helped with hut construction. In Lewiston, Maine, resettled Somali Bantu refugees work in jobs that are very different from the farming work that they did in Somalia.  Somali Bantus in Lewiston work in a wide range of jobs, usually dependent on English fluency skills, including stocking shelves at Walmart, mental health outreach, and dish washing in hotels and hospitals. Some are small business owners and some grow vegetables to sell to local restaurants and Bates College.                  


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