Bhutan is a small Himalayan country sandwiched between India and China. During the early 1990s the Royal Government of Bhutan evicted one sixth of its population, mainly the Nepali-speaking people. These people took shelter in the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) run camps in eastern Nepal. The Nepal Government and the Bhutan government held 15 rounds of bilateral talk to repatriate the refugees to their original homestead. But, the talks failed. Then UNHCR proposed alternative solution of refugee resettlement. In 2006, the USA, Canada, Netherland, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, and United Kingdom decided to resettle the Bhutanese refugees in their countries on humanitarian ground to share the burden of prolonged refugee crisis.
After almost two decades staying in the refugee camps, the Bhutanese community started settling in Iowa too since 2008. By now there is a population of 1200+ including those who have moved from other states as secondary migration. The flow of people from the camps in Nepal and from other states continues. These families settle here with new hopes and dreams of leading a successful life.
The Refugee Resettlement Agencies including the Bureau of Refugee Services in Iowa are doing their best to help these families materialize their dreams and aspirations, but most of their services are time-bound. Families receive services for the first 6 to 9 months after which they will have to be independent because the resettlement agencies are not funded to serve the same family further. Though the educated families with some knowledge of English pick up from where they are left by these agencies, the old and uneducated have been found to be stranded in the labyrinth.There are many Bhutanese families who have not had any formal education. One of the serious issues common with most of the Bhutanese families is accessing the resources provided by the State, Federal Government and other local agencies to improve their living conditions. The elderly and people with disability are many in the community whose voices have not been heard or addressed. People with lack of proficiency in English language are clueless about what they would do to improve their living conditions. And among many other things, the one thing that needs attention is the Bhutanese people's rich cultural heritage which is in precarious position of decline. Therefore, with the sole objective of addressing these issues, a Bhutanese people's organization called Bhutanese Community in Iowa has been founded by the Bhutanese living in Iowa (USA).
Bhutanese Community In Iowa (BCI) is registered in the State of Iowa as a Non-profit Organization. It is founded by the Bhutanese people living in the state of Iowa (USA).
The mission of the organization is to establish BCI as a common forum for enhancing the quality of life of all the Bhutanese people living in Iowa through empowerment, collaboration and cooperation; and to promote, protect, and preserve our distinctly rich cultural heritage in order to maintain our identity as Bhutanese Americans.
Art and sustainable development class
The Bhutanese Community in Iowa and Global Arts Therapy are preparing to launch 6 weeks of arts and sustainable development classes for refugees in Iowa. Classes will be held once a week beginning in February, participants that are interested will be allowed to show their artwork at 1 of 3 upcoming art shows at Design on Main in Ames, Iowa.. Participants will also have an opportunity to learn about culture in Iowa through regularly held field trips to the Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Symphony and an Iowa Wild Hockey game.
General Election - 2014
Second General election for the Board of Directors was successfully held on December 25, 2014. This election was held to fill the vacant slots in the position of BCI's Board of Directors and the General Secretary. As per BCI's policy, two of the members for the Board of Directors were to be elected through a ballot voting process and the other two were to be nominated from amongst the general members by the existing and the newly elected Board members. Accordingly, Mr. SB Gurung, and Mr. Hem Magar were able to secure the highest number of votes to be elected for the position of elected Board Members, and Mr. Bhim Magar and Ms. Hema Bastola were nominated to serve in the Board of Directors as nominated Board Member. Mr. SB Gurung was elected the General Secretary.
BCI would like to heartily congratulate these four individuals for making it to the Board of Directors and wish them for their successful tenure as they move ahead fulfilling their respective roles and responsibilities.
Our sincere gratitude also goes to the Members of the Election Committee - Mr. MK Gajmer (Chief), Mr. Chandra Sanyashi, Mr. Mongal Subba, Ms. Dewaki Gurung, Mr. Thakur Neopane, and Mr. Dhakaram Baniya for their dedication in making this election a grand success.
Last but not the least, we would also like to thank Officer Lor from Des Moines Police Department, and Ms. Samantha Thomas from Global Arts Therapy for being with us to witness the election. As we express our gratitude, we also can't miss out the mention of all our community who made it to the election to cast their vote.
Awareness on Taxation:
We organized yet another awareness program on 23rd of November 2014. Tax Attorney from Iowa Legal Aid presented on issues related to taxation. The program started from 10:00 AM and went on until 12:00 Noon.
We hosted a cultural program on Saturday, the 18th of October 2014. The main purpose of this program was to showcase the cultural aspect of Bhutanese who have made Iowa home. Particularly, this program featured a host of songs and dances performed by artists from our community. The program, which started at 12:00 Noon was formally concluded at 3:00 PM, was held at Lincoln High School, 2600 SW 9th Street, Des Moines, IA. Click here to watch the highlights of this program.
Community Awareness Program
Community Education Committee of BCI conducted a public awareness program regarding drug abuse and alcoholism on Saturday, March 22, 2014 between 9:30am to 11:30am at DMACC Urban Campus Building 1, Room 126. Mr. Doua Lor, Asian Outreach Resource Officer from Des Moines Police Department was the official speaker.
BCI's Annual Function:
BCI's Annual Function for the year 2014 was held on April 5. The main purpose of organizing this program was to promote our culture. Artists from different states performed various songs and dances. Besides, members of BCI were updated about the organizations past activities and future plans. Mr. Pratap Subba, a Bhutanese Legendary singer, was honored in the program. Click here to learn more about this event.