Community led non-profit to assist Buffalo's Burmese population

Ashley Hirtzel
September 6, 2013

The Burmese Community Support Center on Buffalo’s Westside aims to assist the city’s large Burmese population.

What makes the center unique is that it’s run by the Burmese community.

Client Services Coordinator Chan Thu says the Burmese Community Support Center or BCSC isn’t a replacement for existing refugee service programs. “The culture here is very different compared to back in Burma and our people are facing lots of cultural differences and of course language barriers. So, they are facing some problems like they don’t know where to go to get assistance and they don’t know how to call the police if they have any problems.”

The BCSC is grant-funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was created after a survey of the Burmese community found people were in need of additional support. Client Services Coordinator Lin Naing says the BCSC mission is “To promote and enhance the quality of life for the refugees from Burma who live in Buffalo.”

Chan Thu says the large Burmese population is made up of a number of  different ethnic groups that all speak different languages. She says they hope to help the whole community ease into their new life in the United States.“We can teach our people more efficient than other cultures, because we know each other very well.”

The BCSC is currently assisting people in the area by appointment only. In the future they hope to be able to accommodate walk-ins as well.
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A non-profit organization will provide support to the 8-thousand Burmese people living in Buffalo. The Burmese Community Support Center or the BCSC is the first of its kind and led by the community itself.

Client Services Coordinator Chan Thu says the large Burmese population is made up of more than eight different ethnic groups with their own languages. She says they hope to help break down language barriers between the different minorities.
“We are planning to serve the Burmese community in the field of DSS, food stamps, Medicaid and public assistance, and education, for example school enrollment, ESL things like that.”

The BCSC was created with assistance from the International Institute and Jericho Road Ministries and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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A new community support center aims to break down language barriers for the large Burmese population in Buffalo. The Burmese Community Support Center or the BCSC is a non-profit organization that will serve the 8-thousand people from Burma living in the region.

Client Services Coordinator Chan Thu says after surveying the Burmese community they found there was demand for an additional support organization. She says they also plan to educate the Burmese population about schools in the United States and its medical system. “Some families need their children to enroll into school, some family might need employment. Some family might need to just read the mail, they got lots of mail and that don’t understand what is that.”

The organization is Burmese-run with help from the International Institute and Jericho Road Ministries. The BCSC is currently assisting people in the area by referral and appointment only.