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Green, Not Concrete

By Hannah Ramsey and Elizabeth Ygartua. Photos by Jeannie Dortch.

On Saturday, June 18, forty-eight Bhutanese mothers and daughters gathered with FBC volunteers for a day of fun and food at Jeff and Jeannie Dortch’s house.

“As we entered the driveway towards the Dortches’ house, I could hear the women talking excitedly,” Julie Pierce, one of the FBC volunteers, said. “One of them translated that it looked like home, green and not concrete.”

The Bhutanese women are all refugees who lived for many years in camps in Nepal before immigrating to the United States.

“I moved to a camp when I was young with my parents because of the wars in Bhutan, and lived there for 18 years,” Geeta Gurang said. “I’ve lived in Richmond two years now.”

GREEN-water-tubes

Women swim in the pond.

Volunteers and women swam in the pond behind the Dortches’ house. According to Lindsey McClintock, most of the women did not know how to swim and were nervous at first.

“They thought the water was dirty and wouldn’t get in,” Lindsey said. “I’d forgotten my bathing suit and borrowed one from Jeannie. As soon as I put on the suit and got in, many joined me.”

The women swam in shorts and T-shirts borrowed from the Dortches, clinging to inner tubes and swimming noodles, while Sebastian McClintock took others for rides in a rowboat. The rest watched from the shade nearby.

“We did this last year with the men, and they had a blast and were running around everywhere,” Julie said. “The women are typically a little more reserved.”

After swimming, everyone gathered for prayer led by Jeff, with Gurung translating. Then came a potluck lunch of Bhutanese dishes, salad and grilled chicken. Jeannie cut up and passed out watermelon for dessert.

GREEN-balloons

Volunteers help launch water balloons.

After lunch Jeff and Sebastian led a water balloon launch. Women lined up to pull back the slingshot while others ran around trying to catch them, getting very wet in the process.

From there everyone congregated near the house to take turns shooting a water-filled bottle rocket.

“Planning activities and knowing what they’d enjoy was difficult,” Julie said. “I suggested a Ladies Tea and was skeptical of the water balloon toss and bottle rockets for the older ladies, but their response proved me wrong – they had a great time!”


Elizabeth Ygartua and Hannah Ramsey

Hannah Ramsey (right) and Elizabeth Ygartua (left).

Hannah Ramsey is a senior at University of Richmond studying Rhetoric and Communication Studies and Studio Art. She has attended First Baptist for 21 years and been a member since 2004. Recently she has worked with Sunday night Youth One activities.

Elizabeth Ygartua, also a senior at University of Richmond, studies Studio Art and Journalism. She attends St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church where she has taught Sunday school and worshiped since her freshman year.

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