Student Starts Nonprofit Organization, Chapter at Elizabethtown College to Aid Refugees
February 16, 2015   //   By:   //   Campus and Community, Service

ESL Class

Bhim Thapaliya ’15 started the Elizabethtown College chapter of the Act for Humanity Foundation, an organization he also founded in 2014. Thapaliya is president of the Lancaster-based nonprofit organization, which helps refugees in the Lancaster County area learn English as a Second Language (ESL) and to navigate American culture. The nonprofit’s goal is to foster cultural understanding.

Thapaliya had already been helping refugees with green card applications and medical appointments and to learn English for some time when he founded an off-campus club in 2011. This ESL and integration club was the beginning of what would become the Act for Humanity Foundation. “We’re hoping to provide [refugees] a little American culture understanding, and help them to integrate and understand the culture,” Thapaliya said.

Thapaliya won the Paul M. Grubb Jr. Student Peace Award in 2014 and used the grant money to fund the club’s expansion into a full-fledged nonprofit. The lack of further funding keeps them from working with as many people as they want to. “The need right now is for volunteers so we can work with more families,” he said.

We’re hoping to provide [refugees] a little American culture understanding, and help them to integrate and understand the culture.”

Thapaliya began these organizations to help refugees and to give high school and college students the opportunity to work with and understand different cultures other than their own. The Act for Humanity Foundation works with several area schools, including E-town College and the Lancaster County Day School.

The Act for Humanity Foundation works with several project partners, including the Center for Civic Engagement at E-town. Thapaliya said the E-town chapter currently is working on about eight projects, including an educational project tutoring children, helping them with homework, ESL and parent-teacher conferences. The chapter also organizes adult ESL classes and citizenship preparation classes.

The Foundation is sponsoring a trip to Nepal in August 2015; the proceeds will fund the nonprofit’s international projects: scholarships, sustainable projects focusing on raising families’ economic statuses and several health projects.

To learn more about Act for Humanity and its projects, visit its website.

About the Author :

Emily Vasas is a 2015 graduate of Elizabethtown College.

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