It was on April 9, 2008, three members of the Bhutanese family arrived in Pittsburgh through Catholic Charities Diocese of Pittsburgh (Resettlement Agency) to start a new life. Following them, their family members joined after a couple of days. Then the chain of the resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees in Pittsburgh by the Catholic Charities and Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Pittsburgh took place. It could be because of the landscape, Job availability, friendly people in Pittsburgh, and the climatic condition; many refugees resettled in other cities and states migrated to Pittsburgh and presently the population has gone over 5000 for which one of the Americorp members is in the process to collect the data of population figure. Unfortunate to state but one of the refugees who was resettled here committed suicide after 29 days of arrival to the US. This is one of the incidents in the dawn of the new year, January of 2010, that brought all the Bhutanese together in the city and started to work together for several other community services and activities.
Since then dedicated volunteers from our community in Pittsburgh have collaboratively worked for the betterment of their community. Addressing needs of this ever-changing population, we have provided valuable services including English as a second language (ESL) classes by our bilingual volunteers in addition to the classes provided by the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council(GPLC), civic education assistance, driver’s education, family financial assistance, cultural programming, and community engagement opportunities. Determined to deliver better services to our community members, we began a strategic planning process in January of 2012. Since that time, community-elected representatives have successfully focused on the vision and mission of the organization and have been formally registered as a formal community organization in the state of Pennsylvania. We now named as the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP), has a strong ambition to see our Bhutanese brothers and sisters learn, grow, and successfully transition into the American mainstream.
Challenges are faced as we move forward. Our population is growing and taking on more vulnerable members (i.e. lower English proficiency, disabilities, etc.), we are spread out across fourteen different localities, and our access to financial and material resources are currently limited. However, our community members have a demonstrated commitment to the work of BCAP, which can be seen in the continual contributions of both money and time. Additionally, there is a great opportunity for BCAP and other local social services agencies to partner in our shared mission of serving refugees and develop symbiotic relationships between them that can thrive. BCAP brings acute cultural insight, knowledge of mixed Bhutanese and Nepali language, and ample motivation, while many of the nonprofit agencies can offer greater service delivery capacity and specialized knowledge of the services in demand.
BCAP’s strategic plan is attached here.