A Longtime volunteer and BNS Editor awarded


Rup Pokharel, one of the longtime community volunteers in Pittsburgh and managing editor of Bhutan News Service (BNS) is awarded ‘Community Health Partnership Champion Award-2015’ by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Center for Engagement and Inclusion amidst an appreciation event, August 26, 2015, in Pittsburgh.

Rup Pokharel receiving award from Alieu Nyassi and Sandra Wells from UPMC, Center for Engagement and Inclusion
Rup Pokharel receiving award from Alieu Nyassi and Sandra Wells from UPMC, Center for Engagement and Inclusion

In the recognition note, UPMC, Center for Engagement and Inclusion noted:

“As a leader and President of the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP), Rup has dedicated his time empowering the community newcomers as well as the community members that have been in the country for a while to grow personally and collectively, appreciating the cross cultural elements their new life has to offer. He has engaged UPMC by bringing our attention to challenges faced by his community in accessing quality healthcare services. He has participated in numerous lunch and learn events to educate UPMC employees on immigrant and refugee health.”

Pokharel works as a service coordinator in Jewish Family and Children Services (JF&CS) in Pittsburgh for a program-‘Immigrants Services and Connections’ (ISAC). Besides this, he also runs a popular program Refugee Support Group in the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh engaging seniors and persons with disabilities since November 2013, working with other community volunteers. This program has helped identifying problems of the community members and referrals are made to the related resources.

Pokharel with co-workers and friends from JF&CS during the event.  Photo: Harka Rai
Pokharel with co-workers and friends from JF&CS during the event.
Photo: Harka Rai

“This recognition is not just a recognition to an individual. This is the recognition given to a newest community by an esteemed institution like UPMC and is the outcome of the selfless services rendered by the community volunteers. I heartily appreciate the role played by the volunteers to ease the lives of the vulnerable families and individuals differently”, said Pokharel.

The note of recognition from UPMC further reads, “Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP) is solely dedicated to empowering their community not only to navigate this city but also to help them live in safe neighborhoods and grow with the beauties of the cross-cultural elements. Rup has helped the Bhutanese Community in need access different services and awareness programs. Some members of the community are UPMC employees, many of them began their careers as EVS and gradually advanced in their careers. Today, three new RNs from the Bhutanese Community have accepted employment at Magee Women’s Hospital. We are proud to have Rup and BCAP as a partner to Advance care for the undeserved.”

Pokharel being honored. Photo: Harka Rai
Pokharel being honored.
Photo: Harka Rai

BCAP is one in the list of successfully managed Bhutanese Communities in the US that has achieved ‘not-for-profit’ status in October 2014. BCAP is also the recipient of Ethnic Community Self-help Federal grant funded through the Office of the Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and Jefferson Regional Foundation a local grant. With those funds at hand, BCAP runs more than a dozen programs benefiting community in the areas of English Language and Civic Education, Women Empowerment, Parent-Child Club, Senior Engagement, Yoga for Healthy Mind, Community Gardening to name some.

Speaking to BNS, Kishor Pradhan, former president of the Bhutanese community in Pittsburgh said, “Rup has served the backbone of our community. I feel very confident that community projects will reach to higher limits under his leadership and this recognition to him is well deserved. I feel proud to have him as our community leader”.

Another Board of Director, Ashok Gurung shared a story: “Before I met Rup in 2012, we were known to each other by email and phone only. It was in early 2011 when I was working over the phone as an interpreter serving a client in California, I had to seek  Rup’s help as he was first resettled there.  As an interpreter, I could not disclose any information of the client to Rup, but I needed his help.  Without asking for any detail, Rup expressed his availability to help. It was so amazing to know later that the client got help and his prompt willingness brought differences. This describes how Rup is.

Looking at his dedication and passion to serve, the community has taken right decision by unanimously electing him as the president. We are just strong with him being in our team. So he deserves this award in the best interest of Bhutanese community in Pittsburgh”, Gurung further adds.