In his opening speech, Senator Brent Waltz reminded the participants that it was the immigrants who built the United States, saying: "Likewise the newcomers from Burma have much to offer their new community," as he commented on the success of the programs implemented by BACI.
"Each level of government has a unique set of obligations to engage with…and assist this population effectively," he said.
More than ten refugee women from Burma have been trained to become licensed home childcare service providers under the institute’s Microenterprise project.
Lian Sang, Programs Associate, praised the women for their commitment and passion for childcare.
"As a person who has been very closely working with them [the women], I know how hard they have been working with the training modules and the love they have for our community and children," said Sang.
This program empowers women to be self-sufficient economically, to help contribute to the development and care of their children and others', and to bring positive economic impacts on the whole community by increasing the family income.
The 35 high school students who completed Study & Life skills training as part of the Institute’s Upward College Program were also honored. The program reported that 100% of seniors with UCP have got admissions into colleges, including Indiana University Bloomington.
"The unprecedented number of participants who are admitted into competitive universities is only a testament to the level of effort the students themselves have made and the hard work of our volunteers and program team members," said Lian Ceu, Program Manager.
The Upward College program had been implemented in partnership with Professor Fengyi Kuo and her graduate class at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
Jane Gehlhausen, reiterated Mayor Gregory Ballard’s commitment to make Indianapolis a welcoming and global Indy, and remarked how the Chins and BACI had been contributing to it.
Trustee Daniel Moriarty, Marianna K. Foulkrod, University of Indianapolis, and Sang Hlei Thang of the Chin Community of Indiana, all noted in their remarks the importance of collaborative partnership and how it had been working so well with BACI.
Other dignitaries in attendance included City Councilor Jack Sandlin, Judge Robert Spears and leaders from different organizations and the communities.
"All of this success is a direct result of a collective effort towards achieving our common goal, and for the good of our shared society. Many have played their own unique roles," said Elaisa Vahnie, BACI Executive Director.
Dr. Ro Dinga, Board Chair of BACI, challenged the community members and leaders, saying: "All community members including the educated and leaders, let us build a strong and self-sufficient community here, and if we are strong here, we can also rebuild a strong community in Burma."
The lively evening was concluded with a special prayer offered by Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio, Founding Board Chair of BACI and Senior Pastor at the Indiana Chin Baptist Church.#