IIB Insider: Celebrating Indiana’s Burmese-American Community
IIB staff Jonathan Crum and Tim Smith attend the Fifth Annual Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, June 4, 2016, in Indianapolis
June 8, 2016
Post by IIB’s Tim Smith
I had the great pleasure of joining my IIB colleague Jonathan Crum in Indianapolis this past Saturday evening at the Fifth Annual Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) Awards Ceremony Dinner. The celebration was held at the University of Indianapolis with over 200 community members attending the event. Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard greeted guests and offered opening remarks, “What the Burmese American Community Institute is doing for Burmese refugees in Indianapolis is remarkable.” He continued and cited how vital the Burmese Chin population is to the city of Indianapolis, and praised BACI for their outstanding advocacy efforts and commitment to educational programming for the Chin community.
|Traditional Burmese Chin dance performance|
Currently, there are over 13,000 Burmese refugees living in Indianapolis.
The important annual event is primarily held to offer recognition awards to community partners, businesses, educators, and friends of BACI who have supported the Burmese Chin community in Indianapolis. The evening’s festivities also included Chin cultural dances, songs, music, and Burmese food.
Mr. Elaisa Vahine, Executive Director of BACI, spoke of his vision to build a thriving, self-sufficient, and sustainable, integrated Burmese Community in Indianapolis through advocacy, education, and employment.
BACI was established in 2011 to proactively respond to the growing needs of the Burmese refugee population in central Indiana.
“Many of you did not believe I would stay for one-year; I have now been here for five!” Vahine said and smiled.
Since its inception, BACI has assisted more than 2,000 individuals through its various programs. BACI’s main source of funding is grants from governmental agencies and local foundations.
Dr. Ro Dinga, Board Chair of BACI, challenged the community members and leaders, “All community members including the educated and leaders, let us continue to build a strong and self-sufficient community here, and if we are strong here, we can also rebuild a strong community in Burma.”
IIB is actively working in Myanmar (also known as Burma) to build its business and education systems. Learn more about our capacity-building work HERE.