The staff of BCRHHR is deeply touched by the outpouring of support that we have received recently - thank you all!
FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING
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News & Upcoming Events
Team BCRHHR is participating in the Winter Walk again this year!
We are raising money to help our clients who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. For more info, please visit our
Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk with the Goldman Family.
Open Avenues Foundation presented it's 2018 Humanitarian Award to Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk at the “Response to Migrant Family Separation Crisis Fundraiser” on September 27, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston for her twenty years of work providing mental health services to refugees and survivors of torture. Co-founder and Director of the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights, Dr. Lin was recognized “for your unwavering commitment to welcome, support, and empower foreign nationals in the United States.” Other awardees were recognized for their legal work (PAIR Project, Attorneys Harvey Kaplan and Howard Silverman) and provision of supportive housing (Dr. Ruth Bersin). Open Avenues is a newly formed non-profit with a mission “to equip and empower immigrants with opportunities that enable them to reach their full potential and contribute to American society.” Reuniting separated family is a necessary step in ensuring immigrants are able to reach their full potential, as the event highlighted. Dr. Lin gave an impassioned speech about BCRHHR’s work, the Center’s resilient clients, and the negative complications that separations have on clients’ mental health.
WE CURRENTLY HAVE AN EXCITING JOB OPPORTUNITY AT BCRHHR:
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker-Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (Supervisor, FT, 40hrs, Days)
We are looking for highly motivated individuals to provide therapy for survivors of torture and war trauma with mental health issues related to trauma and the psychosocial stressors of refugee resettlement and forced acculturation. This individual will act as a supervisor of other Clinical Social Workers. A major component of this position is providing support for asylum seekers through the asylum process as well as writing affidavits and providing testimony when appropriate (as determined by clinician and attorney). Candidate must be comfortable in service delivery in medically based outpatient setting. Candidates must have the ability to provide mental health assessments, create and manage individual treatment plans and write mental health forensic evaluations in support of asylum claims as needed as well as do crisis interventions. This position requires someone with strong cultural skills and the ability to work with a collaborative, interdisciplinary team and an ability to maintain a trauma informed care delivery perspective. This position requires a high degree of flexibility and the willingness to provide case coordination as needed as well as be engaged in grant reporting.
PLEASE JOIN US FOR CARING COMMUNITIES
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to flee your home and start life over in a new country? What challenges do survivors face as they rebuild their lives after torture?
Attend an informational session and learn about caring for the diverse needs of refugees and torture survivors living in Greater Boston. Check the dates below for upcoming sessions.
Please join our next Caring Communities:
Wednesday, Feb. 27th, 6-7 pm
Register by emailing Robbie Adams at
UN Convention against Torture commemorated on June 26th:
June 26 commemorates the signing of the UN Convention against Torture. Despite the fact the use of torture is criminal, it continues to be practiced and advocated. Increasingly societies are desensitized to its use. Persecution due to one’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion are often its basis. However, there can never be any justification for the use of torture. Its impact can be long lasting… far beyond the healing of the physical wounds it causes. Please join with survivors, the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs, and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture as we advocate for a world without torture.
Lin Piwowarczyk, MD, MPH
Our Annual Fall Fête Fundraiser was a great success! If you missed it and would still like to donate, please visit the
Stand with us in support of refugees and asylum seekers seeking our protection.
With the events unfolding recently, the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights continues to serve our clients. As our efforts increase, we are facing an increased need for direct support for our work.
Please click HERE to donate
and Click “Direct my gift to” and select
“Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights”
from the drop-down menu to donate to BCRHHR.
Thank you for your generosity!
Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk received the distinguished Human Rights Award from the American Psychological Association (APA) on behalf of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP).
The American Psychiatric Association selected the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) as the recipient of the 2017 Human Rights Award. NCTTP President, Lin Piwowarczyk, MD, MPH, accepted this award for the NCTTP at the APA Annual Meeting in San Diego. “The APA Human Rights Award recognizes extraordinary efforts by individuals and organizations focused on promoting and supporting the human rights of populations with mental health needs. Upon recommendation by the APA Council on International Psychiatry, the APA feels strongly that NCTTP demonstrates both dedication and leadership in providing mental health care to the survivors of torture in the United States and advocating for the prevention of torture worldwide, making it a prominent recipient of this prestigious award,” wrote Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. CEO and Medical Director of the APA. Dr. Lin is seen below with Executive Committee members Cris Riley of Portland and Kathi Anderson of San Diego.
March 30, 2017
A Letter from Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk
As co-founder of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at Boston Medical Center, I have made it my life’s mission to support individuals fleeing their homelands. I have just returned from our nation’s capital where I gathered together with torture treatment program providers from across the country. Our goal was to advocate to our Congressional representatives about the importance of these programs and their funding needs.
I was recently re-elected as president of the National Consortium for Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP)—a U.S.-based network of programs which exists to advance the knowledge, technical capacities and resources devoted to torture survivors and their families. I am so honored to work with my amazing colleagues at the NCTTP to promote legislation and support human rights. During our time in Washington, we walked the halls of Congress, continuing our quest to seek stronger governmental backing and strategize on how to improve our efforts. The response was overwhelming and exhilarating, only strengthening our will to continue fighting for what’s constitutionally right.
Without a doubt, these are challenging times for organizations such as ours—organizations that work tirelessly to care for refugees and asylum seekers both in the United States and around the world. The decisions made in Washington have a direct effect on our programs’ capacities to change and shape lives.
As people of conscience, our country must remain a safe haven for those looking for safety from around the world regardless of their country of origin. Now, more than ever, we need to stand united for innocent refugees—victims of unspeakable circumstances seeking new lives.
I write you today, to assure you that my colleagues and I are making our voices heard to protect the humanitarian principles that historically define our country.
Lin Piwowarczyk, MD, MPH
Co-founder and Director
Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at Boston Medical Center
Office of Development
Boston Medical Center
801 Massachusetts Avenue, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Phone: 617.638.8990 Fax: 617.638.8983
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December 30, 2016 update:
BCRHHR Presented at the 10th Symposium of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
Mexico City was the location of the 10th International Scientific Symposium of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims from December 5-7, 2016 followed by its General Assembly of members. The IRCT, of which BCRHHR is a member, consists of 152 centers providing annual rehabilitation services to an estimated 100,000 victims of torture in 74 countries. The three-day 10th IRCT Scientific Symposium “Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation” in which 132 presenters shared their work in the area of torture rehabilitation to over 400 attendees. The BCRHRR presented on “Elders Seeking Treatment.” The IRCT Assembly produced a document “The Mexico Consensus” which outlines an agenda for the worldwide torture rehabilitation movement, including “concerted action to advocate for increased funding to the movement, the support to research, documentation of torture, awareness actions and campaigns, and an agenda for international cooperation through sharing good practices, capacity building and the promotion of ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol.”
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
RESOLUTION OF THE FIFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE INTERNATIONAL REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR TORTURE VICTIMS OF 9 DECEMBER 2016
1. That the membership of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, IRCT – comprising of 152 rehabilitation centres for torture victims, in 74 countries worldwide –held its Tenth Scientific Symposium and its Fifth General Assembly in the City of Mexico, United Mexican States, from 4 to 9 December 2016;
2. That during the IRCT 10th International Scientific Symposium, we shared our global knowledge on rehabilitation methods based on evidence derived from the experiences matched to the needs of torture survivors from our work in different contexts around the world. This significant advance in the IRCT’s strategy of mapping the global knowledge on rehabilitation provides a strong basis for understanding how appropriate rehabilitation services can best reach as many victims as possible and be a powerful tool for advocacy;
3. That on this day preceding United Nations Human Rights Day, it must be noted that the right to personal, family, community and social integrity exists at the center of our notions of fundamental rights; and torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are a plague to our humanity;
4. Our desire to see a world without torture, our experience and understanding of the impact of torture upon individuals, families, communities, and societies: and building upon our efforts to prevent torture, fight impunity and provide redress and holistic rehabilitation to victims;
The General Assembly of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, in its Fifth
5. That it is deeply concerned that torture and other grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, continue to be widespread and often systemic in countries worldwide: and that rhetoric instigating or condoning
torture and stigmatizing victims is growing in all regions of the world;
6. That it is deeply concerned by the growing number of human rights violations and victims of torture due to increasing conflicts, the growth of authoritarianism, persecution and discrimination, among other reasons, which have caused an increase in populations on the move;
7. That States cease all practices of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and fully implement their legal and moral obligations to prevent, prosecute and provide redress that includes reconciliation, for torture, including through the effective
investigation and documentation of torture and the provision of holistic rehabilitation to individuals, families, communities and societies;
8. That States protect human rights defenders, rehabilitation providers and others working to support torture victims from all forms of discrimination, harassment, persecution and other forms of suppression for the exercise of their professional duties and activities;
9. That States address the underlying causes of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as all other grave violations of human rights;
10. That holistic rehabilitation to support victims in concert with other actions to prevent torture, fight impunity and provide redress is an integral component of eradicating torture. We express our concerns about the severe underfunding of rehabilitation services globally, in a context where IRCT members experience an ever-increasing demand for rehabilitation services;
11. As we collectively seek to respond to the current situation of torture and other grave human rights violations, the IRCT membership emphasizes that the rehabilitation response must be based on the global knowledge and understanding in our field, as well as human rights principles and a shared understanding of what constitutes effective rehabilitation services;
12. That States must provide all victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment with access to a choice of rehabilitation services that are inclusive and multidisciplinary in nature and that meet their specific and diverse needs, taking into
consideration that torture impacts every aspect of the individual’s physical, psychological, material, familial, social, spiritual and legal life;
13. Holistic rehabilitation services must be rendered in full respect of the victim's agency and with their full and meaningful participation in their own rehabilitation process and the consideration of their views in the decisions made by service providers;
14. The wellbeing of torture victims, as well as professional ethical standards and principles, including on informed consent, confidentiality, ‘do no harm’, and the best interests of victims, must be at the center of independent and accountable rehabilitation services according to the principles of General Comment 3;
15. To work together in solidarity and mutual support to further the common mission, combat ongoing oppression and human rights violations in accordance with international human rights standards, and implement the principles and recommendations set forth in
this resolution to ensure that torture victims can access independent and accountable holistic rehabilitation services tailored to their specific and diverse needs;
16. To work together to promote a substantial increase in the global resources available to the provision of rehabilitation services to torture victims and, in this regard, instructs the IRCT Secretariat to facilitate a working group to further advance this agenda;
17. To document systematically the practice of torture as reported by torture victims and conduct assessments, in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol, to demonstrate the impact of torture on individuals, families, communities and society, and the need for
rehabilitation. Use this knowledge to counter any attempt to condone or instigate torture and promote policies that contribute to its eradication;
18. To inform relevant government authorities and other stakeholders about the consequences of torture on the individual, family, community and society. In doing so, ensure that victims’ rights to confidentiality and privacy is protected;
19. To advocate for the reform or implementation of laws and policies regarding holistic rehabilitation in contexts where the State is not meeting its international obligations to provide the means to achieve as full rehabilitation as possible. Where relevant, encourage States to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol;
20. To advocate for State parties to the UN Convention against Torture to provide funding (either directly or indirectly) to national torture rehabilitation services and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, in ways that guarantee their independence, autonomy and sustainability and do not compromise their ability to provide rehabilitation on a non-discriminatory basis. Where no such rehabilitation services are available, IRCT members will advocate for the establishment and funding of rehabilitation services;
21. To conduct rigorous and ethical research, with diverse outlooks and perspectives, to benefit the torture victims we serve. This includes documenting torture and its health consequences, identifying and addressing the needs of torture victims, and identifying, developing and evaluating effective treatment modalities that are both individual and holistic in nature;
22. To share good practice solutions in research and documentation, engage in capacity building exchanges to support the growth and sustainability of skilled professionals, and share specialized knowledge in the field of torture rehabilitation to enhance the global
fight to eradicate torture; and
23. To work jointly to enhance accountability towards victims, including in relation to relevant international, regional, national and local stakeholders.
June 23, 2016 update:
Briefing: Honoring the Victims-The U.S. Response to Torture
As President of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs, Dr. Piwowarczyk participated in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Congressional Briefing related to the U.N. Day in Support of Survivors of Torture on June 23, 2016. Opened by Congressman McGovern, the panel addressed the prevalence of torture around the world and the experiences of rehabilitation programs which address the impact of human rights violations. It also reviewed the legal framework and role of the U.N. Committee against Torture in enforcing compliance with the Convention Against Torture, and provided recommendations for Congress regarding funding and support for rehabilitation programs.
Give hope today.
“I am very sincerely grateful to Boston Refugee Center for rescuing and healing me from my fears, sickness, hopelessness, tension, loneliness, poverty, and death.”
– An Asylee from Sub-Saharan Africa