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Home » Child/Adolescent Mental Health » Who’s At Risk? » Refugees » Sudan » Sudanese Refugee Cultural Considerations

Sudanese Refugee Cultural Considerations

  • The Sudanese believe in accepting the challenges of everyday life because they view whatever happens as the will of God.
  • Sudanese society is stratified; there is an underprivileged class, a middle class and a small upper class.
  • Wealth and power are highly valued, rural wealth is measured by the size of one’s herd and urban wealth is measured by property and material possessions.
  • Strong families are valued.  The Sudanese family is male oriented; three generations of males and their spouses commonly live in the same household.
  • Men are responsible for earning an income, herding livestock and leading the family.  Men consider it their duty to raise many children, discipline them, find them good spouses, and keep their family free from scandal.
  • Woman cook, clean, care for the children and help men with farming and collecting firewood.
  • The north is more conservative than the south regarding beliefs, customs, attitudes, clothing, and dating.
  • Women in the south generally have more rights than women in the north.
  • In the north, marriages are arranged while in the south, dating is allowed and common.
  • When Sudanese (from the north) visit, men and women socialize separately.  Children are expected to play away from the adults.
  • Pointing with one’s finger is as is remaining seated when greeting someone.
  • Sudanese consider it an improper gesture to eat with the left hand.  One passes or accepts items only with the right hand or both hands, never with the left alone.
  • A Sudanese  man will generally not touch a woman in public.
  • Women wear traditional head coverings and are required to be covered from head to ankle when in public.  The covering is called a hijab.
  • Sudan’s economy is based on agriculture and nearly all rural people live in poverty as subsistence farmers.
  • Nine years of education is required but not enforced.  School facilities are inadequate, especially in rural areas.
  • Sudan’s healthcare system lacks facilities, medicine, and supples.  There are only a few rural hospitals.
  • Due to limited opportunities to rebuild and start over, many people from southern Sudan, are accustomed to, and sometime sexpect free support in the form of money, food and resources.