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Assessing the Needs of Refugee Communities from Bhutan and Burma
Jun 21 Assessing the Needs of Refugee Communities from Bhutan and Burma
In honor of World Refugee Day, we are publishing a series of blog posts about issues facing the Southeast Asian American community this week. This is post 2 of 5.
This past Monday, June 20th, marked World Refugee Day. The day honored the resilience and agency of millions of people who have been uprooted from their homes by war and persecution. This day is especially salient for SEARAC because our work aims to help Southeast Asian American refugees reintegrate into American society and foster community leadership. Even after 50 years since the start of the Vietnam War, the effects of the war and its aftermath can still be seen in our communities today, as we struggle to access mainstream services such as education and healthcare.
In recent years, the United States has received an influx of refugees from Bhutan and Burma. Between 2007 and 2009, 18,772 refugees from Bhutan and 50,237 from Burma were resettled in 40 different states.1 The refugees from Bhutan are the Lhotshampa, ethnic Nepali peoples, who migrated to Bhutan to create an agricultural settlement. In the 1980s, however, the Bhutanese government persecuted the Lhotshampa for their practice of Hinduism. Similarly, the Karen and Chin peoples from Burma have faced persecution from their government for their demonstrations for independence.
The refugees from Bhutan and Burma face similar challenges as the refugees that came before them such as language and cultural barriers, access to education and healthcare, and economic security. SEARAC understands the commonalities between the Southeast Asian American communities that they serve and the newly-arrived communities from Bhutan and Burma.
SEARAC, in partnership with Intergenerational Center (IGC)at Temple University, MOSAICA: The Center for Nonprofit Development and Pluralism, and the Karen American Communities Foundation (KACF), is currently working with the refugee communities from Bhutan and Burma to help foster community leadership and build capacity so that they can communicate their needs of resettlement and long-term integration to policy makers and advocate for themselves. SEARAC partnered with the IGC at Temple University to conduct a needs assessment of these communities to better understand the challenges that these refugees face.
(Participants of SEARAC’s Capacity Building Project of Refugee Groups from Bhutan and Burma at the 2011 Annual Workshop for Ethnic Community Self-Help and Supplemental Services in San Diego.)
SEARAC hopes to use the needs assessment to frame and inform their training and technical assistance with community based organizations that work with the refugee communities from Bhutan and Burma. The Needs Assessment also provides community leaders with information about their communities and what work needs to be done. For more information about the Training and Technical Assistance to the refugee communities from Bhutan and Burma, click here.
1Intergenerational Center at Temple University, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Needs Assessment of Refugee Communities from Bhutan and Burma