Boston Center for Refugee Health
&  Human Rights Newsletter


Thank you!
 To all who contributed to our online fundraiser at 
We raised over $2,000 and were able to purchase more than 100 Charlie Cards to help our clients!   



Don't forget to enroll in  

It's easy and they will donate up to 6% of every dollar you spend when you eat at one of 10,000 participating restaurants.




Save the Date!


Join us

Thursday, May 24th

 for a concert supporting BCRHHR.


Federator No. 1,

an 11-piece band playing up-tempo afro-beat 

& afro-dance music with a message, will be performing live. 


They promise to make you dance!


Doors open at 7 PM.


For more information, contact Courtney White at

[email protected]


Generously sponsored by

Ryle's Jazz Club 

Inman Square


Volunteer Opportunity
The Career Development Program is recruiting potential volunteer interviewers for its Mock Interview Nights.  This could be a one time commitment or potentially on-going for quarterly interview nights.
Desired skills include: previous experience interviewing, knowledge of a variety of professional fields, and ability to improvise.  
For more information contact Joanna Packer at [email protected] 
Our Mission

We provide holistic health care coordinated with social services and legal aid for asylum seekers, refugees, torture survivors and their families.


We also train professionals to serve this population, conduct research to understand and implement best-practices, and promote health and human rights, locally and globally, to improve the quality of life for torture survivors and their communities.


Stay involved!


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TopMarch 2012

Greetings!  We hope you are well.  This brief newsletter highlights our English Language Training program which operates under the umbrella of the Career Development Program at BCRHHR. We are able to offer this service because of the hard work from dedicated volunteers and as always, we are extremely grateful!  We hope you enjoy the article. 

Bridging the Gap: Equipping our Patients with Tools for Integration

The road to stability and recovery is long and challenging for refugees and asylum seekers. Each step forward is hard-fought, and  made more difficult by a lack of resources: lack of information, lack of services, lack of money. Navigating public transportation, the healthcare system, and securing employment can be a challenge for any new resident. Not knowing the local language, however, can make these challenges seem insurmountable. English language proficiency is perhaps the most important factor in successful integration into American society.


The Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights, in response to identified gaps in services, offers on-site English Language classes to its clients in a welcoming and supportive environment. The program provides interim classes while simultaneously helping students get placed on waiting lists for courses closer to their homes, such as those offered at local libraries. In 2011, the English Language Training Program saw 75 students from 23 countries, and is organized into three levels - Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced. The classes are taught by our volunteer teachers, who bring with them a wide range of expertise and a shared desire to help make a difference.

Taught by Mary Annas, who has been volunteering since 
2008, the Advanced English class is comprised of a group of students who have been coming to BCRHHR for many years. A professor at Northeastern University, Mary also leads a seminar on Medicine and Literature for first-year students at the Boston University School of Medicine. The teaching style she utilizes with her students at BCRHHR is similar to how she teaches her first year college literature and writing courses. One of Mary's primary goals this year was introducing students to American literature, and providing creative encouragement through writing and poetry. Mary often uses movies and period pieces on America as catalysts for discussion. The class recently finished reading "The Great Gatsby", which was used as a tool to encourage a dialogue about differences between American society then and now.


The Intermediate English class is currently taught by Kelly Christian, a graduate from Connecticut College with a degree in Art. As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Kelly previously taught English to the parents of Hispanic students in a local school district. In her class sessions, Kelly develops a theme, often relating to current events, and emphasizes a combination of reading, listening and writing skills. Most recently, a class session was developed around Presidents' Day, which then led to discussions about George Washington's birthday, astrology, and horoscopes. Not only did this provide the students with a wide variety of new vocabulary and terms, but it also served as a tool to lead discussions describing personalities and forming the future tense.


Jenna Thompsen, a graduate of McGill University with a double major in African Studies and International Development, teaches Beginning English. She recently returned from a year teaching English to young children in Beijing, China. According to Jenna, her students at BCRHHR come from a wide range of literacy levels and socio-economic backgrounds, but all are eager to learn and willing to help one another. In order to adapt her lessons to varied capabilities and learning styles, she uses the English language as a tool that can help her students integrate into American society. She does this through the use of practical tools which can be applied by the students. Examples include grocery shopping, using public transportation, reading street signs and following directions. In the coming months Jenna plans to take the class on field trips to places like the grocery store to provide real world opportunities for her students to apply what they have learned.


While the teachers utilize specific teaching styles and materials tailored to the needs of the students, the overarching goal for all the classes is to help students become as self-sufficient as possible, feel some degree of comfort and understanding of their new surroundings, and provide tools to successfully integrate into American society. In addition, BCRHHR's classes enable survivors to be with others who are overcoming the same cultural and language-related challenges, and reduce feelings of social exclusion and isolation by promoting social interactions and community building. 

The Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights