A task force of volunteers is working to stop the spread of coronavirus within New Hampshire’s Bhutanese community and to care for the 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.
On Sunday night, the volunteers hosted a Facebook Live broadcast with a Nepali-speaking physician that was viewed by 8,000 Bhutanese refugees or former refugees in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and elsewhere.
The task force is operating under the auspices of Building Community in New Hampshire (BCNH), a non-profit organization based in Manchester that helps refugees from all nations living in New Hampshire get jobs, receive medical care, and become U.S. citizens. In the last month, BCNH has mobilized to deal with the pandemic within New Hampshire’s Bhutanese and Congolese communities in particular.
A COVID emergency response grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has allowed BCNH to double the number of hours its trained Bhutanese and Congolese community health workers have available through July.
The volunteer efforts extend their reach, as do the supplies donated by Carepoint Plus and the NH Department of Health and Human Services. Financial donations are also much needed. Donations may be made on line at www.bcinnh.org.
Tilak Niroula and Suraj Budathoki pulled the task force together to ensure that Bhutanese-Americans living in Manchester and Concord receive information in their native Nepali language, as well as in English. The task force has partnered with CarePoint Plus, a business operated by New Americans and has been distributing masks and gloves to family members caring for the dozen known cases. On Sunday night, Dr. Khem Adhikari of Harrisburg, PA, joined Niroula on the Facebook Live stream. They were also joined by Ran Wagley of Manchester who has just recovered from a COVID infection.
The U.S. government helped refugees from Bhutan settle in Concord and Manchester and in 47 other states. People from all of these communities connect through BCNH’s Facebook page. The video and other resources are available at https://www.facebook.com/BCINNH/
The members of the task force have been working on behalf of the Bhutanese community for a decade. Many were among the founders of BCNH, which was originally known as the Bhutanese Community of New Hampshire. Niroula currently chairs the BCNH board of directors. Rudra Timsina is vice chair; Suraj Budathoki is a board member. Ghana Sharma is on the board of Overcomers Refugee Services in Concord, a partner organization.
The task force also includes Bhola Subedi, senior administrator at CarePoint Plus; Bishnu Khadka, BCNH community health worker; Motikhar Bhujel, staff at Ascentria Care Alliance); Krishna Nepal, director at Maintaining Independence Adult Day Care in Hooksett, and Kumar Timsina, program coordinator at CarePoint Plus). Last week they phoned every Bhutanese household in the state to point them to medical information and to ask about suspected cases.
BCNH and the Task Force are also working closely with the leaders of Congolese community in Manchester and in Concord.