This fall, Rick DellaRatta brought the internationally celebrated Jazz for Peace concert series to Boston in its first ever benefit for the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (BCRHHR). The house was full as the jazz pianist filled the halls with catchy syncopation. The tour, in celebration of the United Nations Concert in 2002, uses the benefit concerts to raise money for charities; jazz becomes the vehicle where cultural transformation occurs and cohesive communities are founded. 

DellaRatta's vision for his international jazz series corresponds directly with the vision of the BCRHHR founders who see community as the building blocks of "healing and recovery." Boston Medical Center has the privilege of housing the BCRHHR and providing primary care, mental health and dental care for patients of many nationalities.

"We focus on transforming the impact of trauma and betrayal, providing comprehensive care and enabling a new sense of community for those who have been displaced by international conflict," said co-founder of BCRHHR Linda Piwowarczyk M.D., M.P.H. "Our staff works extremely hard to impact patients' quality of life by assisting with the journey from newcomer to citizen."

BCRHHR was founded in 1988 by a team of physicians, lawyers and psychiatrists who expanded Dr. Piwowarczyk's Mental Health Program. Today, the Center is a member of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs and operates as an interdisciplinary collaboration among clinicians and experts from Boston Medical Center and Boston University's many departments and schools, Global Lawyers and Physicians-a non-governmental organization; and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Modeling exceptional care, this BMC program focuses holistically on treating and documenting physical and emotional trauma where close to three-fourths are survivors of torture. They see more than 400 people each year from more than 60 countries, two-thirds of which are from Africa. Utilizing a culturally sensitive team of clinicians who provide an array of services such as the support of case management; legal services; vocational rehabilitation; ESOL classes and cultural events throughout the year; the Center collectively promotes community for those who have been forced to flee their homelands.

Immigration in the eyes of BCRHHR is not just a story about crossing the border and immediate assimilation. BCRHHR is about re-piecing and reshaping the individuals that had been businessmen, health professionals, and entrepreneurs in their birth nations before human rights violations and persecution overwhelmed their homes.

"It's about passing through our program, working with one individual at a time and drawing upon their extraordinary resilience," added Piwowarczyk.

To learn more about the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, visit www.bcrhhr.org.

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The colorful mural, "Table of Welcome," that depicts the journey of many refugees, hangs in the BCRHHR conference room, and was created by patients at the Refugee Center. Larger