Bhutanese Community Program
Maryland & Virginia
The Bhutanese Community Program (BCP) was launched in Maryland in January 2010. The BCP is a collaboration between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) , the Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) and the Bhutanese refugee communities resettled in Baltimore, Silver Spring, Riverdale and Hyattsville in Maryland.
The BCP is funded by the Ethnic Community Strengthening grant of the Office of Refugee Resettlement(ORR) .It is a three year grant designed to help ABA to improve its capacity to establish sustainable, effective local programming that supports the self-sufficiency of Bhutanese refugees, particularly vulnerable women. The BCP would additionally ensure the delivery of critical services and support to recently -arrived Bhutanese refugee women, including immediate and ongoing mentoring, acculturation and education through ABA and volunteers.
The BCP is staffed by two full time program coordinators working in the IRC (Baltimore and Silver Spring respectively). On ABA’s side, the BCP is staffed by two project specialists (Baltimore and Silver Spring) and a part-time program assistant under the supervision of ABA’s Executive Director.
The first few months have been dedicated to training staff and setting up organizational systems. Direct services to community members will be launched in all locations in later part of 2010. Monthly reports are available at Project Report - May 2010.
MONTHLY PERFORMANCE PROGRESS REPORT
Project: Ethnic Community Self-Help
Organization: Association of Bhutanese in America, Inc.
Person Completing Report: Aaron Acharya
Period of Report: May 2011
Major activities and accomplishments
• Conducted ESL Survey in the community for 18 years and got 95% result, of which 55% are beginner, 35% are intermediate and10% are higher intermediate to advance level of English, 90% expressed their enthusiasm and interest to take ESL and other advanced studies if their work time suits them.
• Coordinated with Indian Community to assist Bhutanese community members who ran out of their medical insurance to get them examined and treated by doctors for free, 30 people attended the health fair.
• Received two families of four at Airport and liaison case manager and clientele relationship introducing them each other.
• Provided some orientation to them and assisted them with ride to visit office and to see their relatives.
• Helped newly arrived family to look for jobs online, apply and process their online application.
• Assisted a family through interpretation at SWRC to talk to their case manager regarding employment and to make appointments with doctors.
• ABA staff attended training classes on Basic grant and proposal writings at Foundation Center, Washington DC.
• Provided assistance to four newly arrived families providing them orientation on daily basis on culture and work ethics.
• Facilitated medical examination of 30 people in the community in a health fair organized by the Indian community where people were provided general medical examination for free by doctors in the American Indian community.
• Discussed logistics of ESL classes with the staff of the Baltimore City Community College and confirmed to begin two classes of low intermediate and low beginning on 16th of June 2010.
• Provided public bus use orientation to 7 women and 9 men, including how to get on and off the bus, locate their stops, using bus pass and what rules to observe while on the bus.
• ABA participated in two meetings between Gaucher college students, IRC and ABA to explore ways to enable skilled tailors in the Bhutanese community to make use of their skills through a tailoring project. There is a possibility that Gaucher College will invest on sewing machines and other necessary infrastructure while ABA will help in interpretation and coordination in the community.
• Provided health Orientation to 19 women and two men to orient them about US health care systems. The orientation included information on 1) setting up an appointment with a doctor, 2) specialists, 3) basic things to know about health insurance, 4) information on basic health terms like primary care provider (PCP), emergency health problems, 5) and the need for interpretation.
• Provided interpretation services to eight women and three men from the Bhutanese community – in resettlement-related meetings and in hospital.
• Attended a workshop on technical assistance organized by IRC’s SOAR project.
• Provided a list of about 60 disabled members of the Bhutanese community to IRC to enable them to apply for disability benefits.
• Organized a meeting of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC)
• Continued providing assistance to disabled people to apply for benefits.
• Published and disseminated a newsletter in Nepali to the Bhutanese community and partners sharing information about the Bhutanese Community Program.
• Procured laptop computers for staff in all locations. Procured a printer to be housed at the Program assistant’s home in Baltimore.
• Not enough volunteers to meet needs of the families
• Lack of easy accessibility to public transportation
• Inability to get driving license due to lack of interpretation, familiarity with the system and understanding of the road tests
• Lack of employment has been a serious issue among families and one of the families from Silver Spring moved to New Hampshire.
• Lack of regular office space for staff continues to be an issue. Space at IRC in both locations is a welcome relief; however, it does not always serve the purpose a regular office would.
• Getting people to attend meetings or meeting people in the community in general continues to be a challenge - job schedule, appointments at various offices affect people’s availability. This affects ABA’s ability to disseminate information in the community.
• Pro bono spaces for ESL classes are difficult to come by.
Significant findings and events
• In Silver Spring area, about 17% women in the Bhutanese community are homebound due to newly born babies, disabilities, age and inability to get out of the house on their own. About ten percent of men are confined to their house due to fragile health and age.
• 15 members of the community are attending ESL classes at this time, 53% at BCCC and 47% at Montgomery Refugee Training center.
• Of 104 individuals of age 18 and above surveyed for their English language skills, 55% are beginner, 35% are intermediate and10% have advance level of English. 85.9% said that pronunciation is the most difficult part of English while 83% said understanding the language of native speakers is difficult, 71% said Grammar is difficult, 52% said they have problem with vocabulary and 40% said they have difficulty in reading and writing.
• More women than before are involved in the project and are also benefitted from the project.
• Published and disseminated the first community newsletter in Baltimore while continuing to work on the first issue of the same in Silver Spring.
• Prepared program flyers/translations.
Activities Planned for Next Reporting Period
• Training of trainers on Financial Literacy by FDIC in Silver Spring
• Community Interpreter trainings in Silver Spring
• Financial literacy training by BPSOS to the community in Silver Spring
• Explore ways to train volunteers for ESL teaching in both locations
• Continue with the process of initiating recruiting volunteers for other components of the program in both locations
• Start ESL classes in both locations
• Explore strategies to get more women involved in the program
• Start a tailoring project in Baltimore
• Organize a meeting with IRC program manager, housing coordinator and IRC BCP coordinator to discuss the housing issues in Baltimore
• Give more public transportation orientations to more newly arriving families in both locations