M.L. Schultze reports for HuffPost:
Thanks “AKRON, Ohio ― Akron owes its only population growth since the turn of the century to a kingdom on the other side of the Earth. As many as 5,000 Nepalis, who held onto their culture during centuries in Bhutan and decades in refugee camps in Nepal, have made their way here during the last decade.
They went to work in the Gojo plant, enrolled their kids in public schools and learned how to navigate roads, snow and U.S. society. But real success in resettling refugees “means moving people from surviving to thriving,” says Eileen Wilson, who runs refugee outreach for a Cleveland agency called Building Hope in the City.
MADDIE MCGARVEY FOR HUFFPOST
Family Groceries in Akron, Ohio.
Thriving means different things to different people. In Akron, it’s come to mean a dozen Nepalese shops and restaurants in what were once abandoned storefronts on North Hill. It means neighborhoods where long-slumping home sales are recovering. It means a cricket pitch in the park, a Nepalese bed-and-breakfast, and the migration of refugees from Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and New York ― the kinds of places Akron is used to losing people to.
It also means that a once alarmingly high suicide rate among refugees has dwindled.
Akron has declared itself a “Welcoming Community,” and Deputy Mayor Annie McFadden says the city and its newest residents are establishing a synergy.
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Thirty-nine-year-old Amber Subba has lived the Akron migration story from the beginning. On his Facebook page, he introduces himself as Bhutanese-Nepali-American.
Subba and his family came to Akron in 2008. They’d spent more than 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. They’d been forced there when he was 11 by the Bhutanese government’s campaign for a national identity ― one that had no room for people of Nepalese descent who held onto their language and culture.
As refugee camps go, Subba says, the seven clustered in southwest Nepal weren’t bad: Refugees organized systems of commerce, education and self-governance. But more than 100,000 people were also living with annual monsoons and periodic fires, little privacy and constant uncertainty, including how much longer Nepal would let them stay.
In late 2006, President George W. Bush surprised the refugee resettlement world by announcing the U.S. would accept up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. Most of America barely noticed, but local, federally chartered agencies like the International Institute of Akron started to make plans.
Subba acknowledges his adopted city wasn’t exactly prepared.
Jobs were scarce. Language was the great isolator. The laws and customs were unknown.
Practically “nobody had a car,” Subba said. “Nobody had driver’s licenses and we didn’t have proper training about how to use the bus. And we didn’t know about snow and things like that.”
Still, he said, “we survived.”
In fact, Subba did quite a bit more than survive. He rose from interpreter to case manager at the institute, became a U.S. citizen and was president of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron. He composes folk music ― love songs played on streaming radio and easily recognized in the world of the Nepalese diaspora.
His was the first marriage outside the tight circle of Akron’s Bhutanese community. His wife, Tiffany Ann Stacy, enjoys their definition of family that extends well beyond their two children.
As with most families in their culture, Subba’s parents live with them. “It’s really nice, because my kids don’t go to day care,” she said. “They spend the day in the garden digging in the dirt, growing vegetables and learning two languages.”
“The best thing is I’m never lonely,” she joked. “The worst thing is, I’m never alone.”
Read the rest of the story at the link.
Compare the human decency and humanity described in this article with the selfishness, grotesque cowardice, prejudice, and indecency of the Trump Administration. Refugees make us better; Trump makes us worse!