Sunset from Hiebert Lounge in BU' s Medical School during the Gala.

O n Ju ne 29th, 2017 the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights (BC RHHR) celebrated its annual gala, which was attended by clients, staff and volunteers. It was an evening full of food, fun and an exquisite fashion show.
Jennifer Martin, an outpatient clinician within Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was the event's M.C. while DJ Mullan played tunes throughout the evening. The program included many memorable moments, such as a speech by one of our clients, a former judge who was forced to flee his home because of his beliefs. He spoke about some of his struggles but also shared a message of hope and encouragement for the other clients in the room.

The client speaker was followed by Amy Shepherd, who came on stage to accept a Certificate of Appreciation for her continued commitment to the Center as a volunteer  and former employee over the years.  Her help has been especially valuable in recent months. It is because of the Center's dedicated volunteers that we are able to help so many clients and Amy exemplifies that driven desire to help, which makes BCRHHR that much more effective.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) was presented with BCRHHR's Ubuntu Award, which celebrates "the essence of being human", as Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated. The award was accepted by Eva Millona, MIRA's  Executive Director (pictured to the right with Dr. Lin).  MIRA was selected for the award because it is an organization that advocates for the rights of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers throughout the state; helping to protect many of BCRHHR client's in the process. Eva Millona gave a thoughtful summary of the challenges these populations face in both the current national environment and on the world stage. She spoke about the fact that there are over 65 million displaced persons worldwide, which is more than there has been at any point in history, and stressed that we must all offer support to those who have been forced to flee from their homes.
In addition to the inspirational speakers, clients were treated to the musical genius of Amy Sims and Amelia Hollander Ames, who mesmerized the room as they played Mozart's Duo N. 1 in G Major K 423. A wave of cell phones swelled up to record the violin and viola duo, which was, for many, the first live classical performance of their lives.    

The night closed with clients walking the proverbial red carpet during the fashion show. Announced by the Center's Director, Lin Piwowarczyk, the show was a huge hit as people displayed brilliant outfits from their home countries while keeping in step with the audience's rhythmic clapping. There was cheering and smiling all around as the sunset behind the proud models walking throughout the room.

After the festivities ended, each guest was encouraged to bring home a framed picture of a butterfly as a reminder of hope, change and growth; ideals that each of our clients embody.

There has been such an incredible   outpouring of support for our Center and the refugees and asylum seekers whom we serve that we could spend an entire newsletter thanking everyone who has helped us!  The variety of fundraisers that have been held on behalf of BCRHHR have ranged from athletic endeavors to artistic expressions, displaying not only the depth of inventiveness that exists within the greater Boston area but also the commitment to helping refugees and asylum seekers.   

Some of the events to raise money or items for the Center have included:  a concert hosted by MIRYAM singers preforming "The Lamentations of Jeremiah" (pictured above); a yoga class held by a student association with suggested donations at the door; a zumba class with suggested donations; a carnival held within a church that included a pie-throwing game and a bake sale; house parties; campus donation drives; community donation drives and the list goes on.

The Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights would like to thank all of those who have organized such events for our Center.  Not only are you ensuring our ability to continue serving our clients, who are refugees and asylum seekers in the greater Boston area, but you are also sending the message to them that people care about them.  You are letting them know that, despite the rhetoric stating that outsiders are not welcome, that is not how the residents of the greater Boston area feel; we are opening our arms to accept those who have had the strength to overcome incredible obstacles to get here. Thank you all for sending this important message to our clients with your support.


The American Psychiatric Association selected the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) as the recipient of the 2017 Human Rights Award. NCTTP President, Lin Piwowarczyk, MD, MPH, accepted this award for the NCTTP at the APA Annual Meeting in San Diego. "The APA Human Rights Award recognizes extraordinary efforts by individuals and organizations focused on promoting and supporting the human rights of populations with mental health needs. Upon recommendation by the APA Council on International Psychiatry, the APA feels strongly that NCTTP demonstrates both dedication and leadership in providing mental health care to the survivors of torture in the United States and advocating for the prevention of torture worldwide, making it a prominent recipient of this prestigious award," wrote Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. CEO and Medical Director of the APA. Dr. Lin is seen below with Executive Committee members Cris Riley of Portland and Kathi Anderson of San Diego.


Alec Terrana is a fairly new volunteer at the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights but is quickly becoming a valuable asset to our team.  As a Refugee Patient Navigator (RPN), he has already helped many of our clients navigate the hospital, as well as taking a leadership role in several projects in the office.  
Alec's dedication to refugees and asylum seekers is as strong as his commitment to his volunteer duties at the Center. His initial interest in these issues began while he was in Greece, managing a clothing boutique for refugee families, and then later when he volunteered in Calais, known to many as the "Jungle" in France. Volunteering in these two different settings had something in common and as Alec put it, "Despite the vast distance between the two places, I was struck by the similarly broad gap between what refugees required and what was being offered by the large aid organizations". Witnessing the "disconnect" between what is needed and what is provided by larger organizations got Alec thinking about how to provide the most effective assistance to refugees.
After these informative experiences on an international scale, Alec returned to Boston and shifted his focus towards local organizations.  He discovered BCRHHR and said that, "As difficult as the process of leaving one's home country and making it to the United States can be, the psychological toll and trauma of integrating into a different culture and building a new life is a similarly massive endeavor that requires care and support". 
With an eye towards osteopathy, Alec would like to be mindful of addressing psychological trauma in his future work.  In his own words, "The Center recognizes how closely intertwined mental health and well-being are with access to stable housing, nutritious food, and reliable transportation. This strikes me as a fundamental and self-evident truth, yet one that does not seem to have been truly recognized by the medical community at large. Seeing BCRHHR taking this dimension of care so seriously has given me hope for the future of integrated care, as well as provided a valuable lesson about the necessity of fully addressing patients' individual circumstances as I move further into healthcare."
The staff at BCRHHR are sure that Alec's attention to detail will carry over into his future practice as an osteopath.  We are confident that he will continue to help those who have suffered from trauma with the same dedication that he has applied to his work at the Center

Save the date for this year's 
Fall FĂȘte fundraiser! 


To Register for the event or to be a sponsor, please click
To Donate:
1) Please click the link below, which will bring you to the Development Page
2) Under "Gift Designation", click the bubble next to "Direct my gift to"
3) Select "Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights" from the dropdown menu. 
Thank you for your support!