Boston Center for Refugee Health
&  Human Rights Newsletter
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(See our transportation initiative for more on this) 


blankets and winter clothing.  Many of our newly arrived clients are not acclimated to the New England winters.  With the cold weather upon us, new and gently used blankets and sleeping bags are needed more than ever!  If you are interested in donating or organizing a blanket or coat drive, please email us at  

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.


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TopSeptember 2013

As you pack up your beach towels and get back to work or sharpen your pencils for a new academic year, take a little break to catch up on what's been happening at the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights.      

In this issue 

Journey to Healing: An Interview with Jolly Kabatoro, Uganda 
Transportation Initiative: Connecting Clients to Healthcare  

Table of Welcome, Recipes from Around the World

GalaA Night of Remembrance & Rejoicing
On June 28th, the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights (BCRHHR) hosted its ninth annual June Gala. "A Night of Remembrance & Rejoicing" is held each year to honor the United Nations declaration of June 26th as the International Day to Support Victims of Torture.  Staff at BCRHHR view these individuals as survivors, rather than victims, and as the BCRHHR has helped many of those who have endured persecution and torture, we use this day to remember the past but also to rejoice in present triumphs. What better way to show the resilience of humanity than sharing the celebratory spirit with the people who are the symbols of resilience itself.
Dr. Lin and Karamba at podium.
Dr. Lin (Linda Piwowarczyk) and Karamba Diallo do a mike check at the June gala.
Of course there was food, and lots of it, thanks to the generosity of local businesses. We are grateful to Foodie's Market, Shaws Supermarkets and Iggy's Bread of the World who made this night possible by serving as event sponsors. Additionally important to the success of the night, was DJ Audioprophecy, who provided music for us to sing and dance to, and the help of all of our dedicated volunteers. Thank you all!

Master of Ceremonies Pastor Samuel Mutyaba had the crowd on their feet and chanting between speakers and musical performances.  One young woman who came to Boston from Uganda spoke about the need to constantly improve oneself and told a touching story of how her relationship with an elderly client in her care completely when he "caught" her studying for a nursing degree. He began treating her with more respect and encouraging her in her studies, even bringing her books he thought she would find helpful.

We were honored to present the Annual Obuntu Award to Reverend Tan, Director of the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians, for her dedicated work with immigrants' in Greater Boston and beyond.  The purpose of the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians is to strengthen the ability of diverse cultural and linguistic communities to play an active role in the city of Boston providing opportunity, access and equality for immigrants. Obuntu is a Zulu word that means the "the essence of being human" (Archbishop Desmond Tutu). Obuntu recognizes that all people are interwoven and interdependent - this is always a central theme of the night, as survivors from all over the world come together to share their rich cultural traditions.

Mary Munyiri and Joshua Kuloba entertained us with their lively and beautiful songs and we capped off the night with our yearly fashion show, where guests paraded through the room, showing off colorful traditional costumes from many different countries.  The joy was palpable as we all cheered this community who has come so far in rebuilding their lives with resilience, hope, and courage.  
openhouseJoin Us for Caring Communities, 
Wed. Oct. 3 6-7 p.m.  
Caring Communities Small Group Open House
Wed. Oct. 2, 2013 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
At Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights,
Boston Medical Center, 7th Floor (Ask for "Dowling 7")
Boston, MA 02118 


Because of the large number of requests to visit our Center, we are starting a series of small group open house events where we can get to know you and share with you a little about the work at the Center with you.  We invite you to join us for the first Caring Communities event at the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights at BMC.
Meet the people behind the Center and see the colorful "Table of Welcome" mural (pictured at the top of this newsletter), created by our clients, up close.  Because this is our first event of this type, you will be a pioneer in helping us share the Center's story with the community.  Oh yes--and refreshments!

Learn more and register

Can't make it on Oct. 2?  Look out for upcoming Caring Communities Open House events in future issues of this newsletter and on our website.

Or like us on Facebook:
Like us on Facebook

Or follow us on Twitter:
Follow us on Twitter @BCRHHR.
The Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights

JollyJourney to Healing: An Interview with Jolly Kabatoro, Uganda

Jolly dancing--the sky's the limit!
Jolly Kabatoro feels free to follow her dreams for the first time in years.
Why did you leave your country?

By the grace of the God Almighty, I left my husband because my four children and I were being subjected to domestic violence. I came to Boston in 2007.

How did you find the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights?
I did not know where to turn and I asked my pastor to help me find a "refugee camp" where I knew I would get help and human rights. My pastor introduced me to Pastor Mutyaba, who brought me to Boston Medical Center.

What were you like when you first came to us?
I was so fearful, I was afraid to face anyone. I never trusted anyone. At first, I thought that Boston Medical Center was a trick to arrest me, but I trusted Pastor Mutyaba.

What services did you receive and what was most important?
I got referred to a lawyer, I got a counselor, food from the food pantry, I got a bus card and a calling card to call my children. That's when I realized that this might be real help. The most helpful things I got were treatment, good doctors who showed love to me again, lawyers who cared and counselors who made me alive again. I knew there were people outside who cared and loved me once more, especially when I got winter clothes and shoes, for I was freezing! I got English lessons which helped me to understand the people I was meeting in this journey.

What are you doing now?
My lawyers worked hard; it was not easy, but I was granted asylum, then a green card. I started working as a home health aide and at age 55, I learned to drive a car. I'm very proud of that! I have just completed a Red Cross training program.  I passed the state exam and am now a certified nursing assistant.

What are you working on for your future?
I am trying to bring my children to join me. I would like to go back to school. The sky is the limit for me. I can follow my dreams! I thank all those who made this possible: Pastor Mutyaba, Boston Medical Center and the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights, my team of doctors, my lawyers at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center, my English teacher and all those who donated and are still donating to BMC. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Be Blessed!

~Edi Ablavsky, BCRHHR Volunteer  
CharlieTransportation Initiative: Connecting Clients to Healthcare
Clients sitting on the T--Help us get to BCRHHR!
Donations in any amount gratefully accepted at the youcaring website.
Money for transportation is an important necessity that our clients have. Our clients are given $20 worth of Charlie cards monthly, if we have them available. These cards allow our clients make their healthcare appointments. A patient from a Sub-Saharan African country once said he had to walk 12 miles from his home in Lynn to his primary health clinic in the South End. However, with these cards he no longer has to worry about transportation and can focus on caring for himself. The funds received will help us limit their worries and allow them focus on their healthcare needs.

To make a donation for the cards, please visit: 
CareerCareer Development Program: Mock Interview Night
On Tuesday, June 18th and August 20th, the Career Development Program at the Boston Center for Refugee Health held its semiannual Mock Interview Night. Mock Interview Night is an event included in every 9-week Job Readiness Workshop that allows Job Readiness Workshop participants to practice their interviewing skills in a real-world setting. One client mentioned that, "one of the things I have seen in this country is that people are very hard working and time conscious-there is no time to waste!" Everyone who participated showed up ready to gain new skills. The Job Readiness participants attended the event from 4:00-6:00 pm, dressed in their professional interview clothing, resumes and cover letters in hand. The participants were interviewing for positions of their choosing, some seeking a job in the business industry, while others were looking for Certified Nurse Assistant positions, and others interviewing for a job as a secretary or security guard.

Three participants in mock interview night.
Interviewer and interviewees share a sigh of relief that the interviews went so well! 
Six volunteers from BCRHHR acted as the interviewers, each stationed in a different office at BCRHHR. The Job Readiness Workshop participants had two interviews each, rotating offices and interviewers. At the end of each interview, both interviewee and interviewer took time to reflect and discuss strengths and weaknesses of the interview. One participant summed up his experience saying, "the interview was very good, I've learned many things, I've got many hopes of getting a job, I've met many good people-I'm very happy with [the program]. "

The evening ended with all the interviewers and interviewees coming together for a round table discussion and a pizza dinner!  Everyone had a great time, and our participants gained an incredible amount from the experience.

If you would like to help clients hone their interview skills by serving as an interviewer at a future mock interview night, please contact us.  
~Leigh Forbush, BCRHHR Career Development Counselor 
NewsBCRHHR in the News
The work of Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights is featured on the website:

The director of Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, Dr. Linda Piwowarczyk, shares her thoughts on questions related to granting asylum in a recent issue of the Boston Globe: 
cookbookTable of Welcome, Recipes from Around the World
Looking to put a bit of international flavor into your Thanksgiving meal? Need a
Two people holding cookbooks.
Looking for a unique gift for the person who has everything? 
unique gift for someone who has everything?

The Table of Welcome, Recipes from Around the World Cookbook has recipes from patients, staff, volunteers, and friends of BCRHHR, from 35 countries on 5 continents. For the first time collected in this celebration of culinary traditions of resilient women and men from around the globe!

Price: $20, to benefit the Center. Do good, eat well!

Order online