ABA-OBCA unification is a must: Kharel


The Organization of Bhutanese Communities in America (OBCA), announced as a national level not-for-profit organization of Bhutanese in the USA, declared its existence on May 7, 2010 and held its first national convention on June 18-19 in Georgia. In a press statement sent to Bhutan News Service during the time of its formal launch, OBCA stated that the existence of the organization was largely felt to assist resettled folks who have been facing various hardships and trauma in their initial struggle.

“The efforts of resettlement agencies in many states have not been adequate in helping our people as much as they should and as effectively while we are in a completely strange environment in terms of culture, language, food habits, education, skill development and employment. Our people are going through some sort of crisis (identity, spiritual, cultural shock) either consciously or unconsciously,” read the statement.

The existence of OBCA was announced at a time when there already existed another national level organization of Bhutanese i.e. the Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA). At a time when the former announced its existence, an overwhelming public pressure was exerted on both the organizations to show up for unification and declare a single common platform of Bhutanese residing in the USA. Until the filing of this piece, there are no any formal reports of possible unification. Responding to our query, Yam Kharel, Chairman of the OBCA talked to RN Pokhrel of BNS on his organization’s recent activities and developments on forming a single level national organization. Excerpts:

BNS:  What exactly is OBCA doing these days?
Honestly, we have not been able to do as much as it was expected. The reason is that all the team members are working voluntarily, sparing their extra time despite of their own struggle against adjustment, family, jobs and so on. Having identified the needs of different people in different situation, we are working to address them in the best possible ways. We have conducted few recreational and interactive programs. We are also working to help structurally organize the community in some states. We recently launched a new calendar for 2011. They will soon be delivered to as many households as possible.

BNS: At a time of formation of the organization, promises were made that the OBCA would help community folks find job, launch interaction programs, and extend other sorts of help to needy people, among others. Are these promises brought into practical perspective?

Yam Kharel. Photo/TP Mishra

In the past years we have witnessed some leaders of political parties to merit the vote figures and then forget their commitments once they stick on chair. This impression has tended us to give a wrong connotation of the word “promise”. Ours were not the promises to seek votes, nor were they for fake influences. They were more “the list of the needs of struggling Bhutanese in Diaspora which could be smoothened by collective efforts”. Identifying the needs and advocating them in one or the other way in itself is an important step towards solution. For instance, if I complain you of my health problems and if you take me to a doctor and communicate my problem to him and if I am healed, shouldn’t I accredit you for what you did?

As far as the question of seeking jobs is and interaction programs is concerned- it is not possible all the time for a member of one State to help find a job for a member of another State. But a member of OBCA, ABA or any other organization, in my opinion, has always helped in the possible ways to address the needs, which is not something to publish as news. Recently, I, along with some of other active members of the community helped a family pay their rent through our volunteer contribution while they were unable to do it. And then we helped this family find a full time job, and now their situation is straightened. It is true that problems increase with the increase in population. The situation like I mentioned above can keep going for at least next five years or more. We also recently organized a recreational/interaction program in Nebraska. We want to create an organized platform where one immediate Bhutanese can help the other. It’s more a mutual help than the campaigning promises.

BNS: Tell us clearly how efficiently the task to help the community is being accomplished?
I am glad that so far we have been able to render at least minimum help to our people without any fund generation and mobilization at all. Hopefully, we will be able to station an office at some point but I can’t exactly tell you when it might be stationed. We have not been able to set up a physical office yet. However, we have been working as a forum through phones and e-communications. We have been able to accomplish at least the fundamental tasks from our priority lists.

BNS:  How far have you reached in regard to forming a single national level Bhutanese Community Organization?
Several members from both the organization [OBCA and ABA] including myself are of the opinion that unification is a must. OBCA-ABA had a couple of rounds of dialogue. There has been a noticeable gap since the last dialogue for some reason. I can’t say what exactly is in the way of unification, but I guess it is the name. I know it might be less likely for one organization (any) to merge into the other but we really need to work to an avenue where we still can preserve the history and identity of our organization even after the unification. We have been hearing the echoes of people for unification, and if we don’t unify, we are ignoring the public voices. ABA-OBCA unification definitely leads the Bhutanese in America to a world of advantages. Here, I opine that under such a circumstance where everybody wants us to unify for all’s good, and if we don’t unify, we don’t deserve to claim ourselves as “national level organization working for entire Bhutanese across America”.  In short, let me repeat, ABA-OBCA unification is a must and demand of the time.

Hence, via this forum, I urge all OBCA and ABA members to come up with honest interest, wise ideas and possible solutions for earliest unification. I also urge our media, public and other concerned to help us accomplish this mission to one national organization of Bhutanese in America. Personally I am ready to compromise to any extent if that can pave a way out for unification of OBCA and ABA therein creating a sphere for a single national level organization for Bhutanese in the USA.

BNS: OBCA’s presence within the Bhutanese community, particularly in the USA, is not felt at all, in one way. How do you comment on this?
The presence might not have been felt, but for sure its impact has been felt at least by some, at least to some extent. For instance, the case of a family I talked about earlier and other similar situation proves that the impact has been felt directly or indirectly.

BNS:  Do you have any other significant progress you have accomplished since the formation of OBCA?
We have been able to help folks in some cities with models of structurally organized community where they can work creating a platform to share mutual help. We have also helped address some needs such as finding jobs, taking people to appointments when they don’t have anybody to help, helping them access to some beneficial resources, circulating the resource list, organizing cultural, recreational, interaction and awareness programs. Our new calendar is also one of our progresses.

Editor’s note: BNS encourages you to shoot constructive and positive comments in civilized manner.


  1. NO one felt the presence of OBCA after its formation. This interview is the one which again brings the name to public. They made a noise during the time of formation. They call the organisation for all the Bhutanese but they just formed for the name sake. Now Bhutanese hardly hear the name of National level organisation formed in US.Some of the so call leader made Yam and other members just poppet. Mere form of the organisation will not fulfill the any need the people. OBCA is just name to increase the number Bhutanese org in diaspora.

  2. Puspa,
    Make sure you go throug the content before you shoot a comment. I reccomend you learn to respect the culture of apprectation for what one Bhutanese do to the other. Its time for everyone of us to appreciate the efforts that people like Yam have shown their strong interest in unifying the organizations. If people like you could be quite rational, it would help the Bhutanese in Diaspora go ahead with unity. Its people like you who brings fragmantations in the community. Stop that and learn to be dynamic.

  3. I am neither speaking against OBCA nor supporting ABA..It is fact that some people have misguided the entire bhutanese because of their small personnel problems.The main problem and confusion came after the formation of OBCA and believe me not before the declaration of obca. OBCA and ABA are nothing but a tool through which they (founders)can operate the bhutanese community. What they havent understood is the the bhutanese community are not the same living machine as they were in refugee camps…they have modified and are have learned to live in the computer world..where remote operates and not the the old fashioned tools. Yam if you are serious about unity then dissolve OBCA and join ABA..since aba’exists before OBCA…can you do that for the sake of unity…

  4. I think there are few people in OBCA and ABA that has been problem to unification. If all the members could have the attitudes like those of Yam, Jiwan, Rajen and some others, the unification would go a succes and we all Bhutanese would give them our hats off. Those other people like H.A. in ABA and B.S. in OBCA should give a way to young leaders to do goood.
    Idiots like Puspa in the above comments should take off the germs of disappreciation from their brain. Puspa dear, you still have time to refresh yourself. Do it before it is late! You should speak of something that would help bring our society into the track that the Bhutanese desire.
    Good Luck Guys!

  5. Mr.Kharel Vai,
    I am glad that you are concious enough to say, “if we do not unify, we will be ignoring public voices”. I am more concerned of what will happen if public ignores both ABA and OBCA. Members on both sides has to stop thinking about “you” and “me” (aba or Obca). Time is here to think of all Bhutanese in America looking for a kind of representation at a national level under one organization, with due respect to all other divisions and difference of ideas and opinions or organizations at state/regional/local levels. But there is simply No good enough reason why ABA and OBCA cannot commit to the best interest and determination of significance for all bhutanese in America under the given circumstances!

    For example Bank of the West and Bank of the East have merged to become a more stronger “Central Bank”. I hope you got the hint.

  6. yes unification is needed
    though we live at different places we are one and we do have feeling of oneness
    whatever organisation we represent we are of same background.I personally think it is time we discuss further try to form a democratic consensus to be one .Unification in america is needed (may be a joint working framework) irrespective of size of the organisations .At the same time we should be thinking about a international forum where everyone is included -from bhutan to camps and different countries where we are resettled .
    I know our generation has been involved in controversies and multi organisational culture it is time we all rethink and be one .

  7. People always considered themselves as superior among others and whatever s/he does is all in all. The slogan of ‘little knowledge is dangerous’ is what is meant for our crew. Some came little early and considered that they are the king of the jungle and other who followed later considered as the agglomeration of all and believed that they have the mass. People always make simple things into a complex one and once it is too hard to restore the original shape they quit everything damaging the beauty and charm of such beautiful procession that we feel proud of it. Very sorrowful practice and pathetic trend.
    I understand both of the institutions have their own strength as well as weakness. I’ve not seen their plans and programs either in person or black and white. But there is no substitute for partnership if they don’t want to unify also. It is not easy to implement the words into action without good resource, most specific the human one. Some of us think like throwing of pebbles and claiming some shares like that in refugee camp with louder voice. Is it applicable in the new soil? One group may have more knowledge and other may have more energy. Take the advantage and give the leverage. You can turn things well with less effort. It is a simple machine trick.
    Understand that hungry men are angry men. Till now most are hungry and once they turn angry, things will be hard to keep in your side. Either never get involved which is wise or once you involve do the job well which is wiser. Do not play and make fun.

  8. One of the amazing thing about us Bhutanese is our capacity to be abundantly generous with our advice – Be united. Work together. What is wrong with you? So on and so forth.

    The other amazing thing about us is our lack of capacity and willingness to do anything to make what we think is so important happen. There is a saying in our society – one can see a louse crawling in someone else’s hair but one can not see an elephant stempeding in one’s own moustache.

    Many say ABA and OBCA need to be united, but there is an underlying implication in these pronouncements that OBCA and ABA are actively fighting against each other and trying to bring each other down. That is not true. As far as I understand, each one of these groups are doing what little they can to help people in their own ways. None of them are asking you to provide anything to them – if they are, deal with them. Neither of them have taken away your wealth or benefits – if they do, challenge them. As long as they continue working (or not working for that matter) without bothering you, let them be. If this “disunity” concerns you so much, get out there and do something, rather than just imparting advice. Lots of things are easier said than done. Two organizations, or one organization in every hub of resettlement (which is actually the case now), is not the end of the world. Unity, the way it seems to be perceived by many here, serves no purpose other than make people feel good. Collaboration, at times appropriate and expedient, serves every one well. Both these organization’s mission statements do not mention being united with every organization that crops up. Their mission statements have been well formulated. When working together serves the mission well, they should. When it does not, they shouldn’t.

    ABA and OBCA – Do what you were set up to do – provide services. Unity happens organically. Forced unity never went anywhere. We saw it all in the last 20 years.

  9. I support both ABA and OBCA. I learned this from some commenter in other discussion. I believe both are doing noble work and now busy paving the road ways for smooth function of their future projects. We all should keep in mind that both organisations are not strong enough dealing with each problem of Bhutanese in America. We do not wait for unification because our seniors in the past have never gone through any unification in Nepal. Same engines are in operation here in America though their real faces are consiled behind.

    I support both because there is nothing I loose, I don’t need to renew the support, I don’t have to feed the support i provide them, I do not have to worry about organizations and its functions,structures,projects and what they do. This is a way we can easily deal with those who are so motivated to have national organization and their names.
    But be united in local area and keep concerns in local chapter.

    Thank you

    Editor’s note: Some sentences were removed as they were very sensitive.

  10. hi Rup ji

    I think rup sir you are still playing games like in Nepal.Now do you think you are in America so plz laeve this all,better to do other than this job which would be good for your future career.who heils give you permission to ask such a stupit questions to anybody else.Do you know that every body has their own will and intrest to do.so plz rup ji there most be two organition so it would be competition and check and balance.

  11. Editor,
    The sentences you have removed seems sensitive, but it is the reality and we all have to face it one day or other.
    The message is urgently needed to be transmitted to the folks who arrived in America earlier than resettlement.
    Their intention may not be wrong, but in general, the way they act and their works towards the community should be acceptable and make sense so definitely we follow their path.
    My concerns is, what is the best way we can pass this message to the Bhutanese who all arrived America earlier than resettlement.


  12. OBCA has come up with some serious differences with ABA. The unity that folks above are talking about is neither necessary, nor sensible at this point. Voice for unity is a prayer the folks that are putting up have the fun of doing it. They actually do not mean anything.
    OBCA port folios, if you see ABA at the middle space you can go there too and sign a deal with it. Otherwise do not mess up with them. ABA and OBCA are at two ends long after the call for the unity was first made. This is the impediment to take ahead. Both are descent, and both have great calibers. Please do not worry that above posters are telling “unity” is our people’s demand of the hour. It is not true. Our people have not been caring how many organizations are in the making; they are counting on the amount of the help and support that they are getting.
    One of organizations may disappear in the glaze of the other, but it is not appropriate to worry about that now.

  13. Dear BNS team,

    My intention was neither to vilify nor to libel anyone of good standing posture. I had a very simple intention and it was to discourage those community trouble shooters from repeating the past. I believe BNS is a media center of all and all deserve to have a space in it. Therefore, earnestly and honestly, I suggest BNS team to apply ointment to your cloudy eyes on time, so that you need not have to go for replacing the cloudy eye lens with intraocularlens(IOL)later on. That would involve more cost.

    Appreciated for providing space.


  14. I believe we should not give any baseless alligation to any one unleess proved.I strongly believe BNS team believes in their hard work rather than selling their great property which they have won it at difficult time in the history.

  15. “In the Middle” is where majority people remain, no matter how much ABA nd OBCA shout on either side. If this is good enough for the people like Bhutangey, there is no need to talk about Unity, just ignore it, deny it and complain. I want to be able to spend my money to buy a plane ticket for me and my family and come to the national convention of all Bhutanese in America for a well deserved and meaningful occassion. But if you (ABA and OBCA) are happy to leave majority of the people in the middle,I’d rather spend that money and time to rejuvinate elsewhere. I don’t think both of you can see the significance of one org at the National level! It is either acting stupid or simply ignoring the reality. The general public is not in either category, therefore remain “in the middle”.
    Thank you
    Dick Chhetri

  16. Dick ji, the reality is that the majority of the people do not know who you are. So the people do not have any enticement toward your hard earned personal dollars. YOU ARE THE KING OF YOUR MONEY!!!



  17. Thank you, Mr. Chhetri, for opening my eyes – I see the light now. Both ABA and OBCA are in deep trouble if people of your stature do not attend their conventions. Something has to be done really quickly to avert this crisis. How is the Bhutanese community going to fare if your everyday contributions, which have been extremely critical for our daily survival, are taken away? I am really worried about the calamities that will strike the Bhutanese community when such noble leaders like you decline to attend the conventions. I would be happy to chip in any way I can to make sure that we the Bhutanese are in your good will, and that you will guide us along the very creative and constructive path you have outlined for us.

    I agree with Damber that many people may not know about you, but I would humbly suggest (hoping for your kind approval) that ABA and OBCA should immediately start some kind of a campaign so that your eminence, your leadership capability, and your indispensable presence is felt by the Bhutanese community, not only in the United States but all around the world. It is a defect in us that we constantly fail to notice the amazing qualities of people like you who do not talk often, do not blow your trumpet often but are constantly worried about how the community is faring and are wiling to give whatever it takes, including advice and guidance, to steer the community towards a greater good – like a united national organization, that will satisfy all the needs of the Bhutanese community.

    It would be good if ABA and OBCA give up what they have done so far, which is definitely negligible compared to what untiring leaders like Mr. Chhetri have given the Bhutanese community, and dissolve both their organizations and come to California to meet with Mr. Chhetri so he can guide them towards the ultimate goal of the Bhutanese community. The little expense ABA and OBCA may incur in flying to meet Mr Chhetri is nothing compared to what knowledge, what leadership and what wisdom the ABA and OBCA folks can receive from Mr. Chhetri. I would be happy to contribute what little I can to make this most important thing come true. Of course, provided Mr. Chhetri approves of this idea.

    However, the fundamental issue here is to make sure wise leaders like Mr. Chhetri attend the conventions. If they don’t, we are doomed.

  18. It must be painful for that guy in the mask of “Bhutangey” to write so passionately against a person than about the good of the community. My advice to him, from his extreme, keep on looking “in the middle”, one day you will see what is in the middlle!

    Dick Chhetri

  19. Open, Honest and Straightforwdness

    BNS may like to think twice about those people in disguise who are writing personal and damaging things. This will simply divert the people from the real issue. Such people who cannot even come forward with their real names for e. g “Bhutangey” is disgrace to all Bhutanese. He is like a Virus of strain 911 that affects all. Hope you have ways to expose such elements before they infect larger section of our innocent people.
    I have used myself AS AN EXAMPLE “In the middle”, but you can how much he came back swinging at me. Expose him so that he can Keep on looking in the “middle” untill he sees something!And general public can gauge the Truth.
    Dick Chhetri

  20. Bhutanese may achieve more, if reality is left as it is. Everyone should not shoulder the responsibilities of different Bhutanese organizations formed elsewhere regardless of local,national and international.

    Middle is not a solution. And it is not right for someone to consider himself in the middle with innocent folks if you haven’t seen the past in the refugee camp. We have spend enough time in the refugee camp. One in the middle may need long time lessons of refugee plights and suffering.

    Jit Bdr.

  21. Truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. A little anger is fine.

    Calling someone a disgrace to the community, accusing him/her of diverting people from the real issue, calling him/her a ‘virus’ that is infectious, and THEN accusing him/her of getting personal – well, what can one say to that! Let us leave it there.

    Let me summarize what I have been saying all along:

    1. TALKING about unity/unification is not enough. Those who keep on and on about how absolutely important it is to unify should actually get on the ground from their high horse, be willing to get their hands dirty and work to make it happen.
    2. Forced unity DOES NOT work. We have seen forced coalitions, councils etc for the last two decades, only to see them crumble even before they became operational. Allow for organic unity through programs. We have seen programs work even when those who started the programs were disliked in the beginning.
    3. Organizations should stick to their mission. When you don’t have a penny in the bank, not a single functioning project, not even a viable governance structure, refrain from trying to create a more unmanageable structure of people who don’t really get along. Collaborate on programs, get to know each other, learn why the other exists – really honestly learn, rather than making assumptions- and then unification can organically happen.
    4. And to reiterate, people who don’t do anything about what they preach should leave the pulpit.

    Now, going back to the ‘real issue’ – it would be nice if Mr Kharel could elaborate a little more on the various advantages of the “world of advantages” that ABA-OBCA unification is definitely supposed to lead the Bhutanese in America to. Supporting each claim with some facts, or at least arguments, may help bring the other side (ABA here) to the negotiating table again.

  22. Both claimed national organization ABA and OBCA function in their own way. what counts is which organization covers the larger area and has designed the best comprehensive activities for the greater good of the communities. People are involved particularly with maximum commitment and resources are used strictly for better outcome. Both organizations looks non flexible in its behavior.

    As it is shared by few, Dick Chhetri, from CA, was actively involved in ABA formation and he has contributed drafting the by laws and convened the first meeting of Bhutanese people in 2009 in California in his initiative. Question is who dropped him and fell on the middle now?
    Middle is not his place and he can not walk people of middle.

    Jit Bdr.

  23. The expectation of the people is NOT to gather the crowded field of people who don’t get along. But to set on to a course towards One Organization at the National level to represent all Bhutanese in America both for symbolism and significance. It is also for psychological satisfaction, enthusiasm and optimism of common people for a new beginning in contrast to the past experiences. A number of orgs deem necessary at the local/regional levels is understandable. But to claim as “Association of Bhutanese in America” as a national org. OR “Organization of Bhutanese in America” as equally omnipotent, and then involve in a tug of war, leaving majority of people “in the middle” as if saying “who cares” is irresponsible and a bad example for our junior fellows and common people.
    No programs, No money, complains will continue because the division is closing the window of opportunity as the sponsors hesitate to give grants to any org in confusion but also may doubt the very motive of such people like Bhutangey. In the middle,you are doing disservice to the people you claim to be serving because you are spoiling the opportunities of the people, for the people because of: “by the people” like Bhutangey in disguise. Therefore, if you believe, “honesty is the best policy”, follow it. Come out of the cocoon, reveal your identity. I will be ready to shake hands and do honest discussion for the greater good of our people in the spirit of Unity, Hope and Optimism.
    For Jit’s clarification, I had little to do with contribution to ABA, but really tried to eradicate petty politics inside it at an early stage, and support it as a National Unity Organization. I remain in the middle with equal eyes on both sides raising critical voice on behalf of the people in the middle.
    We should be discussing Projects, Programs, Resources and the future of our people in the next meeting of our minds, hopefully.
    Dick Chhetri

  24. Yes, I agree with Chhetrijee.
    Human tendency resembles more to natural phenomena. The bulk is always with the neutral particles, rather on the side of +ve or –ve charge one. Take the example of atomic configuration, the nucleus is where the neutron lies and its significance is due to weight. May be Chhetri’s middle is the neutral mass.
    But one shouldn’t overlook the human wisdom to capitalize the usable strength in this materialized universe and only the part of whole has the utility value. In the above synergy, only –ve particle is the source of energy in this world of crisis. Which matters more, bulk or its use? Reasoning is yours.
    Time and again, our emotional judgment lacks real strata – the representation ratio, one in all and all in one. Graphical projection while imaging may attimes complicates the whole figure and if distortion appears cannot be corrected. So let’s stick to one fundamental principle – simple is beautiful.
    If we can keep things simple, we can achieve our goal, goal of happiness through trust and mutual understanding.

  25. Mr Tortola,
    Thank you for your Scientific Reasoning. May be you and the rest of us can see Mr. Kharels’ Olive Branch at least in his words. Whether or not he can persuade his team towards the critical mass remains to be seen. Good things should happen to all Bhutanese in America, if people start realizing the importance of neutral majority in the middle.

    Best greetings of the Season
    Dick Chhetri

  26. Unite at the earliest, before all the people of our community know that you are nothing but the chips of the old block. In my personal opinion the process of forming national level associations first and then trying to spread your roots to state and city level was a flop idea, it should have been otherwise. Remember, a tree starts growing from roots. Go to fourth grader’s Science lesson “Plant Life”.