The Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights at Boston Medical Center (BCRHHR) had its annual Client Gala on July 10th, 2019. A record number of clients and supporters of the Center came to enjoy the food, entertainment and to hear speakers on the 14th floor of Boston University’s Hiebert Lounge. A beloved pastor from the Ugandan community emceed the event, introducing BCRHHR’s Director, Lin Piwowarczyk, MD as well as the client speaker and a talented young piano player, Christa Lam, who played beautifully at the end of the program. Evans Erilus, an Educational Case Manager at Bunker Hill Community College’s Boston Welcome Back Center received BCRHHR’s Ubuntu Award on behalf of the Boston Welcome Back Center. Each year, BCRHHR presents the Ubuntu award to an organization that embodies the spirit of the Zulu word, explained by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as meaning “the essence of being human.” Evans spoke about how the Boston Welcome Back Center successful helps nurses trained in other countries become registered nurses in Massachusetts. Indeed, many of BCRHHR’s clients have benefited from their assistance over the years and Boston Welcome Back has clearly demonstrated a commitment to the essence of Ubuntu.Silhouetted against the backdrop of the Boston skyline, the Executive Director of the State Office for Refugees & Immigrants (ORI), Mary Truong, can be seen in this picture talking about the services ORI provides. All ears attentively listened to ways in which ORI’s network of agencies provide direct services in culturally appropriate ways to newly arrived immigrants and refugees across Massachusetts.
The final portion of the evening, the client fashion show, was a huge hit as always. BCHHR clients walked across the room in clothing from their home countries while Dr Lin described the significance of their outfits with detail and zeal. The room erupted into applause every time a client did a spin to display the full glory of what they were wearing, with some even stopping to strike a pose for the crowd. That energy and enthusiasm is what the event is all about – taking a break from telling the story of trauma to celebrate resilience and hope. Nothing demonstrated that fact more clearly than seeing BCRHHR’s clients proudly present their culture through traditional dress in the client fashion show.