It was a day of celebration of religious, family, friends, and a chance to do something different. What was that? The BCAA Bhutanese Festival of 2012, held on November 4 at the Italian Center on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron, Ohio. Between 500 and 600 people attended the event and enjoyed entertainment, speeches, and food. There were so many people that meals had to be taken to people as they sat at their chairs. It was a wonderful, festive event that showed off the many talents of Bhutanese refugees, from very young to those who were less young.
This was an auspicious occasion for the Bhutanese-Nepali community of greater Akron, and traditional dances and songs were punctuated with original compositions and performances by local artists.
A highlight of the day was the welcome from Daphne Kwok, Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders. It was impressive to be noticed by a member of President Obama's White House. In her welcome she thanked everyone and pointed out how they were sharing and celebrating their traditional culture as well as assimilating the culture of the United States. Bhim Dhungana is telling her that it was an honor to have her attend our festival.
Goran Debelnogich, Senior Analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Refugee Resettlement, was a former employee of the International Institute of Akron, and has been a personal friend of many Bhutanese refugees. Mr. Debelnogich spoke about several current issues and initiatives happening at the federal level. He ended with comments about the home-based childcare program that will help support and train women who stay at home to care for children. He also said that in 2014 the Affordable Care Act will cover all refugees' medical care. His office is also working for easier recetification for refugees with professional skills. He told those in attendance that the BCAA is a true bridge to life in the United States. Bhim Dhungana served as interpreter for all the English speakers.
Pictures on this page were taken by Natalya (Natasha) Mytareva, Terry Kuhn, and Nirmala (Nilam) Ghimirey.
With 65 people in attendance in the Parish Hall of Blessed Trinity Church at 300 East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron, Ohio, the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA) was called to order for a General Meeting. President Bishnu Subba, Secretary Prakash Misra, and Treasurer Tuk Rai conducted the meeting. Several trustees and advisors were in attendance and special guests included Dil Rimal, Bhakta Ghimire, and Terry Kuhn. The main topics discussed included a proposed cultural program, Nepali language classes, citizenship classes, and an office for BCAA.
Bishnu Subba said that the Bhutanese community in Akron is doing fine, but sometimes we go forward while other times we go backward. We all need to go together in order to save our culture, our tradition and our community. He said that:
(1) We have representatives from your area to collect money.
(2) The website has been changed, and we need your comments and suggestions about that.
(3) We are planning to start an online radio program, and we need your comments about whether or not we should start one.
(4) We have been missing some of the houses in our collections, so if you move be sure to give us your new address.
(5) (4) We are preparing for a cultural program in November. The cultural program is intended to save our culture and traditions for our future generations, and also we work all year to present this program. It will entertain our for one day, like a holiday or a day off.
Bishnu Subba said that people are looking forward to the Bhutanese Cultural Program in November, and "we want our people's support to make it successful." “It is important have cultural program like this once a year because at other times people are busy with their own work so on that day people will gather and spend some time with friends and family.” Another reason for the cultural program is that it sets a good example for upcoming years.
President Subba said that "...Nepal was not our motherland but also we had lived there in a society surrounded by the same culture, customs, and traditions, and we celebrated our festival with honor -- even though we were refugees. Now we're in AMERICA! and it's way different than where we used to be. But being in a different society doesn't mean we can't celebrate our festival and wear our traditional dress. This year, as always, we are going to celebrate our festival with our dances, musics, and food. This will only be possible if we work together as one. We're celebrating this festival to remember our culture and traditions, as well as to communicate with people in our community so we can stay in touch with each other. This festival will also entertain us , especially our elders, and also so our young brothers and sisters will know who we are and what we have."
A hand vote was taken asking if those present favored having a cultural program. A large majority of people raised their hands in support of the idea.
Citizenship class which is held by International Institute and BCAA used to be two classes per month, but from next month or so there will be four classes per month. And to make the class successful there is going to be money collection for needs like notebooks and other items. Citizenship classes are important because they will help us to become citizens and give us the right to vote. The classes are also a chance to reunite families, they are a way to protect your children's right to remain in the U. S., they are a protection in cases involving illegal activity. Citizenship also makes international travel easier. The instructors are Bhim Dhungana and Krishna Subba. Comments and suggestions are highly welcome.
Sponsoring an Office for BCAA
Taking the podium, President Subba said "We are planning on renting a home because in order to get our community financial help from the government, we will need our own office to show that we are not wasting money. So we would like all of you to donate $1 to $2 from one house per month for a year. We think after that we will have some money from government for rent and other stuff." He said "We need to collect $2-3 from each family once a month. Why? Because we're going to rent an office to run BCAA. An office will be helpful because when we have some problems we can go there and discuss about it." When asked why can't we get help from the government instead of collecting money from our people, he said "because no one will help us if we don't have an office to show them where we work." Another person said that it may be easier for some but it may also be hard for some to pay $2, so don't we have anyone who can pay $2 for us till one year? President Subba responded "Till now we haven't found anyone who can help, but perhaps if we find someone, they will address our need. The problem is that we don't have our own address.
Tuk Rai reviewed the financial transactions of BCAA. He said that BCAA spent $1,206.37 in support of soccer players. In the past, when money was donated and collected, the cash was given to the organizers of the games. Now the money collected is deposited in the BCAA FirstMerit bank account and a check is written to the person in charge of the team. This accounting method provides the record that the association is required to keep.
Report about International Institute Procedures
Amber Subba made several observations about how to get the most out of the assistance provided by the International Institute of Akron. He said that when you go to hospital with an interpreter, listen to what the doctors and nurses explain to you about your health. Remember what they tell you. If you have any doubt or questions, then ask them inside the room; because interpreters have the right to not explain things to you once you are outside the room.
Amber said that when you have an interview at Job and Family Services, you should not miss it, otherwise your
benefits can be cut off. You should inform your ELS teacher if you are unable to attend your class. And let them know the reasons and circumstances that prevent you from attending.
Bhim Dhungana said that your doctor always expects you to know your name, your address, and your phone number. Also the doctor is the one who determines whether you should get an interpreter or not; it does not depend on any other reason. It is also good to know your family doctor's name and phone number so if you are in a different state and you need to go to a hospital, you can start from where you left off. If you don';t know your doctor name and phone number you might need to start from the beginning.
Both Amber and Bhim said that if you get a call from a business or any company, do not say YES! or NO! without understanding what they are telling you. Never give your bank account numbers and any personal information like your birth date to someone who calls you. Anyone from a bank or credit company already knows that information. If you think it is important, say that "I need a Nepali Interpreter" otherwise just say "NO ENGLISH" then hang up.
This article was prepared by Dukula Katel, Champha Subba, Sajan Osti, and Terry Kuhn.
A large version of this picture appeared on the front page of the September 20, 2012 Akron Beacon Journal. The soccer players from many Bhutanese Community Association of Akron families are having a very positive impact on the North High School varsity soccer team. They got a lot of experience playing soccer when they were confined to refugee camps in Nepal after the monarchy forced their families out of Bhutan.
. L to R: Kailash Ghimirey (midfielder), Michael Kane (coach), Mani Tamang (Defender), Baw Nyaw Lay (Forward).
These students are living the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, although in very bad economic times. They appreciate their teachers and the education they are getting at North High School and they are quickly learning English in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program -- to the point where many of them serve as interpreters for their parents and grandparents.
All of these students are in this country legally and they look forward to attaining citizenship when they become eligible after living in the U. S. for five years.
The following pictures were taken on September 16, 2012 at the Shiva Vishnu Temple health fair in Parma Ohio. This event was organized by the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio (AIPNO).
Twenty-six people from the Akron community took part and received the benefits of free medical consultation and testing for cholesterol, blood sugar, vision, bone density, and Pap. Such health fairs in the past have helped hundreds of people take charge of their health and to make informed decisions about their habits and care.
BCAA helped arrange for a bus to transport people from the International Institute of Akron to the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Parma.
The participants were thankful to the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio and the Shiva Vishnu Temple making this health fair possible.
Through the collaborative efforts of The City of Akron, United Way of Summit County, ASIA, Inc, Akron International Friendship, and the International Institute of Akron, the first Global Village Festival was held at Lock 3 in downtown Akron, Ohio on Saturday, September 8, 2012. The wet sidewalks in the picture above show that it was rainy and cold before the festival got started. But then people started showing up, the sun came out and warmed the air.
A color guard made up of Garfield High School Junior Navy ROTC students presented the flag and stood at attention as the Star Spangled Banner was performed. In the photo above the color guard was practicing before the opening of the festival.
There were about two dozen booths at the Global Village Festival selling and representing artisan and cultural merchandise, ethnic foods, and cultural arts demonstrations.
Following the shootings of Karma Tamang on July 21, 2012 and Mon Bahadur Bhujel on August 26, 2012 in Akron, Ohio, members of the refugee community have been very concerned for their safety. The International Institute of Akron (IIA) arranged meetings on July 25, 2012 and August 29, 2012 with several representatives of the Akron Police Department to discuss the situation with local refugee communities. Bhim Dhungana and Kukupaw Lynn served as interpreters for Nepali and Burmese, respectively.
Late on the night of July 21, 2012, Karma Tamang, dressed in a green shirt and dark jeans, was returning home in his car when he was shot in the face by an unknown gunman. To his family, friends, and neighbors, Karma was known as a kind man whose loss will be felt deeply by everyone, and particularly by his wife and three children. After living for 20 years in the Beldangi-2 refugee camp with over 20,000 other exiles from Bhutan, Karma survived in a bamboo hut without running water, electricity, or sanitary facilities. He finally achieved the dream of living in the land of freedom and hope, only to be murdered as he was sitting in his car.
Captain Simcos said that the police were striving to protect all the people of North Hill, and they need help from all citizens. He acknowledged that this is the second major crime against the refugee community this summer, and that identifying the attackers is the police's top priority.
Policeman Dan Postor asked citizens to call 911 if they see any suspicious activity. When you call, the police will have your phone number and address if you call from a land line; however, if you call from a cell phone, you will need to tell them the number and street where you observed the suspicious activity.
The police said that these crimes were gang related and had to do with the gangs establishing their territory. In the past year, 168 gang members have been arrested. The police are serious about getting rid of the gangs.
Bhakta Ghimire said that "When we were in Nepal we never had this criminal problem. We didn't have any protection but also we never got any harm. When we moved to America we expected American government to protect us from everything, but this is the second crime this summer in our community. "
Ms. Rebecca Jenkins from the International Institute of Akron talked about whether or not it was a good idea to have a gun for self-protection. She said there were many laws about owning and using guns and while you have a right to buy a gun, if you are found in violation of any gun laws, you could be deported. She said "Everybody wants you to be safe and able to stay legally in the United States."
Gang members target immigrants and refugees because they know that they are often afraid to call the police, and because many of them do not speak fluent English. In the United States the police really want to help people and protect them. Officer Jerry Hughes said to be very careful about putting any personal information on Facebook because gang members look at Facebook.
Captain Sylvia Trundle said that almost all of the murders in Akron have been related to drugs or domestic violence. She said that crimes like these are sometimes a "rite of passage" for new gang members who have to prove themselves by committing an egregious, serious crime.
Following the general election on July 28, 2012, the format transfer of responsibility from the outgoing to the incoming officers of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron took place on August 11, 2012 in the conference room of the International Institute of Akron. There were approximately 100 members and supporters in attendance. The program was organized by the General Election Committee of 2012 under the chairmanship of Dhurva Rai and Mr. Purosotam Dhungana served as master of ceremonies for this program.
There were 890 eligible voters for this election. Of those 711 were primary resettlement individuals and 179 were secondary migration people.
The members of the 2012 General Election Committee were Dhruva Rai-Chair, Hari Adhikari, Laxmi Dhungana, Prosutom Dhungana, Durga Ghimirey, Harka Gurung, Sunar Mani Kumar, Bhim Subba, N. B. Subba, Sancha Raj Subba, and Naresh Subba.
General Election Committee volunteers included Purosotam Neopaney, Khadendra Subedi, Kabita Subba, Janga Thapa, Tara Dhungana, Champha Subba, Lachhi Subba, Mangali Subba, Som Subba, Ramesh Adhikari, Paras Bhattari, Dipa Mishra, Sarita Basnet, and Dukula Katel.
There were two outside observers, Mingmar T. Lama and Terry L. Kuhn, who watched the counting and signed the final tally papers.
The picture of the front page of the June 13, 2012 issue of the Akron Beacon Journal (ABJ) shows Nirmala (Nilam) Ghimirey, as photographed by ABJ photographer Ed Suba, as she stood in the entrance to Akron North High School. This picture illustrated the article about Nilam written by Jewell Cardwell, a popular reporter for the paper.
The article was prompted by the standing ovation Nilam's valedictorian speech received at the Greek Community Temple in Akron, Ohio, on June 6, 2012.
Reporter Cardwell helped to arrange Nirmala's cap, gown, and honors cords (see below left). Ed Suba, ABJ photographer, laid on the ground to get the right angle for the picture that appeared on page one of the June 13, 2012 Akron Beacon Journal while Jewell Cardwell supervised the shoot (see below right).
Jewell's article talked about Nirmala's refugee camp experience, the refugee resettlement program, her valedictorian speech, her plans for the future, and how important her volunteer activities were in her success.
Valedictorian Speech, North High School, Nirmala Ghimirey, June 6, 2012
Good evening classmates, parents, teachers, principals, counselors, family and friends…. I speak to you on behalf of the North High School graduating class of 2012. It is good to be here tonight. It has been good to be at North High School for the last four years.
Our class is ready for the future. Our achievements will be a reflection of North High School for the next 50 years. We are the class of 2012, and we are the future!!!
I want to thank all those who have helped us get to this point in life. Graduates, we must remember the help and support we have received from our parents, teachers, counselors, families, friends, and mentors. And we are very grateful to them. We would not be where we are today without them.
Some of us have lived in Akron all of our lives, and others have come from many different countries. Some came from very difficult situations. But tonight, we are one group and we are all happy to be in this room. We have gotten a good education and have ideas about our futures.
This year our class had a senior fun day and picnic, prom, senior breakfast, and senior auction. Every day we went to classes, studied, and looked forward to graduation. I want to praise you, my classmates for your achievements, for working hard, and for working well together.
As I reflect on what my future may hold, I recall that my journey began when I was born and raised in a refugee camp in Nepal after my family was forced out of Bhutan. We lived in a bamboo hut with no running water or electricity. We got rice rations once a month and had to make them last or go hungry. My parents made a great sacrifice to bring me from the refugee camp in Nepal to the United States.
In the refugee camp there was only today. I had no dreams for the future. What I have learned is that there can be a tomorrow. There can be a dream for the future.
Coming here with no knowledge about the culture of the United States was a real challenge. I had to work hard to learn the language and customs of this country. I am fortunate to make it to this point. I believe that everything comes from within us. You have to believe in yourself. Everyone is smart in one way or another and you have to keep on learning through every experience. No matter what your situation is, you have to believe in yourself. And you need a positive outlook to make your life better.
The economy is bad and jobs are hard to get. So it is important for all of us to get more education and training to succeed in the future. Some of us may go on to college, some may get jobs, and some may go into the armed services. Whatever each of you chooses to do, I wish you the best.
As life goes on, we will make our own futures. In conclusion, we each have a future and we are the future!
Click on the following link to read the full article in the Akron Beacon Journal.
Terry and Liz Kuhn presented $1,000 scholarships to three students at the BCAA meeting on June 3, 2012 in the International Institute of Akron. The scholarships are awarded to students who are
* refugees of Lhotshampa origin from Nepal/Bhutan,
* who have been admitted to Kent State University and have a Banner ID number,
* who have an inner desire to learn,
* who demonstrated financial need on their FAFSA report,
* and who complete the application procedure by the deadline.
This year scholarships were awarded to Nar B. Subba, Damber Subba, and Nirmala Ghimirey.
Sandra Montgomery, who is the assistant director of Student Financial Aid at Kent State University described the scholarship criteria to those in attendance and she told the students how they can use the money for their fees and college expenses.
Dr. Kuhn concluded the program by congratulating the students for the good choices they have made to get this far in life. He and Mrs. Kuhn hope this scholarship will help the recipients acquire the knowledge and skills to be productive and happy in the future.
Alicia Rauckhort, a realtor with Twin Oaks Realty in Akron, presented a workshop on Buying a House for over 20 interested people at the International Institute of Akron. She talked about what people need to know (1) before they buy a house, (2) as they purchase a house, and (3) after they own a house.
Before you buy a house.
Alicia described the advantages of buying and renting, whether to buy directly from an owner or to go through a realtor, how to assess your house needs in terms of size and location, how to figure out how much you can afford to borrow (your income times 3), and how much your monthly payment will be (approximately 1% of the loan amount).
As you buy a house.
She said it takes 15 to 30 years to pay off a loan, and that you need to decide whether you want to live close to your work, close to schools, close to public transportation, or close to family. You should look at a potential house carefully and hire your own inspector to look it over for you. You should also compare loan costs from several different banks.
After you own a house.
Things like property taxes, utilities (water, electricity, gas, sewer, and garbage), maintenance (plumbing, wiring, insulation, roofs), yard upkeep, and homeowner's insurance are NOT part of your monthly loan payment. You must be prepared to pay those additional expenses in addition to your loan payment.
In an effort to preserve and promote the Bhutanese community's culture and tradition, the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA) sponsored a cultural program on October 30, 2011 at the VFW Firestone Post 3383 near Nesmith Lake in Akron.
The event featured breakfast and lunch, an honors ceremony, as well as singing and dancing provided by our youth for the entertainment of approximately 500 BCAA members and 30 other guests.
The Bhutanese community was happy to showcase its rich and varied culture for the enjoyment of all. Participant ages ranged from 6 weeks to over 90 years of age.
This progream was an opportunity for the Bhutanese community to formally thank all of the institutions, employers, and individuals who have assisted refugees in the Akron area.
Institutional Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Akron City Family Medicine, Akron Public Schools, Cuyahoga Falls Public Schools, English Cafe at the Stow-Alliance Fellowship Church, FirstMerit Bank, International Institute of Akron, Locust Pediatric, Akron Children's Hospital, and the Summit County Health Department.
Business and Industries Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Accurate Plastics, Alside Windows, Case Farms, Clarion Inn, Five Guys Burger & Fries, Foundation Industries, Hattie Larlham, Hygenic Corporation, Intigral, Main Street Gourmet, Maval Manufacturing, Rubber Associates, Spunfab Adhesive Fabrics, Steere Enterprises, and the Village Discount Outlet.
Individual Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Madhav Bhatta, Donna Early, Becky Evans, Migmar Lama, Govinda Poudel, Manju Rastogi, Naresh Shakya, Doug Schmidt, Francis Weng, and Doug & Cindy Wurtz.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement held its 2011 National Consultation at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C. on August 1 and 2, 2011. The consultation is designed to share ideas to help refugees from different countries achieve self-sufficiency as they resettle in the United States.
Discussion topics included employment services, English language instruction, vocational training, case management, and short-term cash and medical assistance.
There was particular interest in hearing directly from refugees, their experiences with the new culture, the challenges they are facing, and the solutions they are finding.
Amber Subba, President of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, attended the Consultation and represented Woven In Exile weavers among the Global Market Vendors.
He took a box of bags from our local weavers to sell at the conference, as well as information cards and the "Woven In Exile" sign, pictured in the window below. He sold several bags that helped our local Akron, Ohio, weavers.
Many people at this consultation learned about our Woven in Exile weavers and the beautiful bags they make.
On a sunny festive day in June of 2011 at the Portage Lakes State Park over 60 Bhutanese elders gathered to share stories, food, and a good time. They talked, recited poems, told stories, sang, danced, ate, and just had fun.
Madu Phuyel told an interviewer that “our king threw us out of the country, and then the government of Nepal didn’t care for us. We didn’t have freedom. The best part of living in the United States is freedom. When I was in my home I thought I was alone, but by seeing all these people I feel like I am still with my family and friends, who I can speak with.”
One lady said "We were from different places before we came to Akron. We can’t drive to meet, but due to this picnic we meet with people who we didn’t know before and get to know them."
Everyone was glad and thankful to the BCAA for sponsoring the picnic where they could see each other, meet new people, and express their feelings.
A soccer team from the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron participated in the First Interstate Bhutanese Soccer Tournament at Granite Fields Tucker in Atlanta Georgia on June 17-18, 2011. The Akron team was coached by Mon Bahadur Rana.
This historic event included twenty teams from Bhutanese communities in 14 states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The first game played by BCA was with Shoot Death from Virginia. Our team won with a score 6-0. BCA's second game was with Green Georgia and our team unfortunately lost with a score of 1-3. Our players played a good technical and fair game, which was interesting for both the players and spectators.
The Bhutanese Community of Akron participated with the following objectives:
1 To develop talents and potentialities of our players in the field of games and sports
2 To build friendly relationships with Bhutanese communities residing in different states and cities in the U. S. A.
3 To represent the Bhutanese Community of Akron in the First Interstate Bhutanese Soccer Tournament
4 To show cooperation and unity among the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron
Coach Mon Bahadur Rana with the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron team. The names of the players (in alphabetical order): Milan Bhandari, Bharat Bista, Hem Bista, Druba Chhetri, Krishna Chuwan, Dil Bahadur Laoti, Kamal Moger, Direndra Neopane, Dilliram Nepal, Dhan Singh Rai, Raju Rana, Suk Rai, Sancha Subba, Bikun Swong, Dawa Tamang, Phurba Tamang, Saroj Tumbapho, and Ram Yongyang.
In order to enable our players to participate and to help them with their expenses, 113 BCAA members contributed a total of $1279. The average contribution was about $11 and the contributions ranged from a low of $3 to a high of $200! Many thanks to all those who helped support this effort.
During the Winter and Spring of 2011, the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA) has been offering a biweekly citizenship preparation class for adults. The program started in January of 2011 and was specifically targeted at 2008-2009 arrivals. Approximately 50 to 60 people are currently attending. The aim of these classes is to increase the number of people achieving United States citizenship within 7 to 9 years of their arrival.
Instruction is provided by adult and high school volunteers from the community. The International Institute of Akron provided classroom space and educational materials. The instructor pictured to the upper right is Madhu Lai Nepal and he is being assisted by Khem Niroula and Purshottam Dhungana. The BCAA will expand the program if there is sufficient interest and if volunteer teachers are available.
The "Growing Hope Food Summit" was held on April 1 & 2 at a church on W Exchange Street in Akron. There were 18 people from the BCAA community in attendance. The first day a film called "Fresh" talked about growing food at home. The second day was a conference intended to define the goals of the movement. A community group sponsored the event which is working to increase food availability and nutrition, particularly for minorities. One of the priorities which was popularly shared by all the stakeholders was the desire to have more community gardens. Also, there was talk about bringing farmer's markets with fresh produce to minority neighborhoods. They also want to encourage small stores to carry vegetables. Amber Subba, Tuk Rai, and Jas Maya Subba were there to interpret.
Amber Subba, Tuk Rai, and Jas Maya Subba served as interpreters.
Chandra Subba (left) and Pabitra Osti (middle) from the greater Akron Bhutanese Community demonstrated backstrap weaving in the warm, bright sun in front of The Market Path. Amber Subba, (right with Nilam Ghimmirey and Liz Kuhn) President of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, Inc., provided personal transportation for the weavers and assisted in setting up the demonstration. President Subba came to the Market Path to learn about the challenges the weavers face in creating and selling their work, and how to interact with customers. Most of all, he came to encourage the weavers.
Store manager, Dae Evans, invited Woven In Exile weavers because they make beautiful bags, and she wanted to share their story with other people, to connect people, and to raise awareness! She commented that she is aware that the standard of living is more expensive in the United States and that the prices on these bags may be higher than prices on bags made in other third-world countries, but that they are more than worth the asking price.
Francis Weng, a local landscape architect, conducted a workshop on how to insulate windows for winter weather. He donated his time and his Sunday Afternoon Garden Club contributed $100 towards the materials used for the demonstration. Francis explained how cold air comes in around windows in old houses, and he showed how cold air can be kept out using 3 ml. thick plastic sheeting and double-sided tape. He began by measuring the window.
Several people gathered at the home of Laxmi Kanta Nepal for the demonstration. Laxmi hoped to lower his heating bills by using the ideas Francis taught. Francis explained that infiltration of cold air from air leaks around doors and windows raises heating bills. So does poor insulation in the walls and ceiling. Simple weatherstripping like Francis taught can help reduce cold air drafts. He started by cleaning all the dust and debris from the window sills, then he attached double-strip tape all the way around the window. After that he the plastic to fit the window. Then the plastic sheet was attached to the double-stock tape. Bhim Dhungana and others watched as Francis demonstrated. Everyone was thankful for Francis' instruction.
After Deb Solan described how she got to know Nilam during her volunteer experience at Robinson Memorial Hospital, Dr. Terry Kuhn described a girl named "Nandi" and the political situation she lived through until she got to the United States as a refugee. In this photo, Liz Kuhn is at the podium describing her activities with the Bhutanese weavers. In the foreground Bishnu and Kumari demonstrate traditional weaving on backstrap looms.
Answering questions about life in the refugee camp, Nilam described the rice rations, lack of electricity, and a bamboo hut for a home. She said it was good to be in America where she is getting a good education, the food is better, and the roof doesn't leak when it rains. She gave a human face to the refugee situation and said that the elders -- after 18 years in exile -- still identify as citizens of Bhutan and think of it as their home.
A general election was conducted on July 25, 2010, to elect officers for the newly formed Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, Inc. This page shows some photographs of that event in which voting took place at three polling locations, each near a population center of our members.
Three high school students reporting for the Bhutanese Times Newsletter interviewed voters, candidates, election committee members, and observers. While there were lines, the efficient election committee kept the voters moving through the process. Three poling places were established at 740 Carnegie Avenue, 330 Broad Boulevard, and 336 Oxford Avenue in Akron, Ohio.
The Ballot Box was sealed and carefully carried from one polling place to the next. Election observers were ever present, and interviews with elders were conducted. The Election Committee counted and tabulated the votes and certified the results, first with one person adding and being watched and second by another person adding and being watched. Results were written on the blackboard and winners were announced: Amber Subba (President), Bhim Dhungana (Secretary), and Tuk Rai (Treasurer).
In the United States the most effective way to get around is by car. It is necessary to move around in cities and to go to suburbs for shopping, medical attention, and even visiting with friends. Therefore, it is critical that members learn to drive and get driver's licenses. Public transportation by train or bus is not practical for most people because those systems have not been developed, in contracts to highways and roads in which the US government has invested heavily. In the picture is Tika Dimal in May of 2010 practicing to take the maneuverability test.
Because transportation is a critical necessity in the United State and because many Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees have had difficulty in passing the written and maneuverability tests to obtain a driver's license, BCAA volunteers are assisting members to pass these tests.
A smiling Tika is showing us his new driver's license after passing the driving test.
Selected activities of BCAA members are chronicled in this blog by Terry Kuhn.