The Akron Hindu Sewa Samittee celebrated the festival of Rama Navami Mahotsav on March 28, 2015 at the home of a member in Akron. About 200 people of all ages were in attendance.
The Akron Hindu Sewa Samittee is organized as a sister organization/committee of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron. It organizes, and conducts programs and practices of Hindu customs and religion in order to promote and preserve the Bhutanese community's Hindu culture and traditions.
Mahananda Luitel talked about the intertwining nature of the Hindu religion with new findings in the frontiers of science.
Terry Kuhn expressed his admiration for the long journey Bhutanese refugees have traveled and noted that he was impressed with their industriousness in getting jobs and buying houses. He emphasized that it is important that the young people do well in school, that everyone needs to learn the cultural ways of the United States, as well as remember the community's language and culture so that the young people honor and respect the deprivation and hardships the elders have endured on their behalf.
Even though the air was cold for the out-of-doors activities, everyone's heart was warm and there were many discussions among friends and neighbors at this happy occasion.
Suicide is an issue of great concern to the Bhutanese community. In order to call attention to this issue, Bhutanese artists have collectively written a music video called "Stop Suicide." The Druk Fusion Band, Menuka Memorial Foundation, Rhythm Screen Creation, and the International Institute of Akron presented an event to release this video on February 28.
In addition to releasing the video, several professional speakers talked about their experience with mental health issues. There were also live performances by local and national Bhutanese and Nepalese artists who conveyed information through artistic entertainment in dance and music. The event was designed to open up dialogue among Bhutanese community members about mental health issues that will lead to treatment and prevention of suicide.
The event took place on Saturday, February 28, 2015 beginning at 2:00 P.M. in the North High School auditorium located at 985 Gorge Boulevard in Akron, Ohio 44310. There was no admission charge and everyone was invited.
Chhabilall Sharma, M. D., was born in Geylegphug, in southern Bhutan. After finishing high school, he studied medicine in Kanpur, India. Upon his graduation, he returned to Bhutan and served as a District Medical Officer for the Government of Bhutan. In 1992, he became a refugee along with his family. Once in the refugee camps in Nepal, Dr. Sharma worked for 8 years with Save the Children, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nepal. He moved to the United States in 2003. In 2011 he completed his psychiatry residency at Hennepin-Regions Psychiatry Training Program in Minnesota. Dr. Sharma is currently an American Board Certified psychiatrist working at HealthPartners, and spends part of his clinical time at HealthPartners Center for International Health. Dr. Sharma has recently been appointed by the University of Minnesota Global Health Program as the Nepal site coordinator for Global Health Faculty. In his leisure time he enjoys volunteering with the growing Bhutanese American Community in Minnesota.
Elina Shakya, M. D., received her medical training (M. B. B. S.) at the Nepal Medical College. She specializes in internal medicine and practices at Summa St. Thomas Primary Care. Dr. Shakya has hospital affiliations at Summa - Barberton Citizens Hospital, Summa - Wadsworth - Rittman Hospital, Summa - St. Thomas Hospital, Summa - Akron City Hospital, and the North Coast Crystal Clinic. Dr. Shakya speaks fluent Nepali and English.
Stephanie Goeden, BSW MSW, is a licensed social worker and has been in the social service field for more than 15 years. She was with the International Institute of Akron from 2008 through 2011 and has since been focused on mental health. She is currently with Coleman Behavioral Health as an outpatient therapist and refugee liaison, and is working towards certificates in trauma and grief counseling.
It is difficult to predict who will commit suicide. So if anyone you know talks about wanting to die, having no reason to live, or being a burden on others -- LISTEN TO THEM. Get them to talk. Tell them you care about them. Doing these simple things can help prevent any more suicides in the Bhutanese diaspora.