The sixth Convention of Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) hosted by Bhutanese Community of Syracuse (BCS) Inc., concluded on Friday following different sessions of useful workshops and presentations.
The convention formally began on July 4th at local Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) building with the workshop titled “Organizational Management: Nonprofits Systems and Structures” facilitated by the executive director of ABA, Aaron Acharya. Mr. Acharya addressed a mass of around hundred people that included participants from neighboring cities like Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Erie, Scranton, Pittsburgh and also from Virginia and Philadelphia. On the second day, Mr Acharya also facilitated “Organizational Management-Grant Proposals”, the workshop that was highly applauded by the participants. Majority of participants in both workshops were community leaders and people interested in leadership; they commended the workshops to be very useful.
Narayan Sharma made a presentation on “Responsible Citizenship” in which he talked about day to day issues faced by the resettled Bhutanese. Different issues like driving while intoxicated, over speeding and its consequences, domestic violence, legal issues related to minors, among many were discussed during the presentation.
Meanwhile, Parankush Subedi (PK), refugee health coordinator with City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health educated the audiences with a powerpoint presentation on “Mental Health and Suicide” related to resettled Bhutanese. Mr. Subedi’s presentation was based on three case studies of different aged refugees that committed suicides highlighted on causes of depression and suicides, domestic violence and the like.
Although no concrete solution to the mental health issues of Bhutanese was provided, Mr. Subedi suggested forming a team of Bhutanese doctors and other health care professionals resettled in the United States with the Indian doctors to seek the ways to address the issue on hand. Also, he further suggested to create a mental health detective group among the resettled Bhutanese to investigate and identify people as having suicidal thoughts, and thus stop them from actually taking their life.
At the reception dinner, BCS also held informal discussion with the leaders of neighboring cities on possibility of helping each other in getting organized as non-profits.
During the convention, ABA executive director also presented the annual report of the organization. He further stated that currently ABA has been providing the technical assistance program for local organizations; and one of the potential future programs of the organization will be a comprehensive online portal with resources useful for the Bhutanese communities in the US. However, unification between ABA and OBCA was not discussed at the meet.
On Saturday, BCS organized an outing for elderly members of the community. A group of around fifty people over the age of sixty were given a ride to Niagra Falls, NY, around 170 miles from Syracuse.
“We have been planning this event for the elderly people for around five years, and eventually, we have made this happen”, said Hari Bangaley, ex-president of BCS adding this is possibly the first of its kind among the resettled folks.
Jai Subedi, the president of BCS informed BNS that BCS will try to give continuity to the programs for elderly people in future as well.