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Stories from refugees living in Abilene: Deepak

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My Name is Deepak Sarki. I was born in the Samchi District in Bhutan in 1987. My parents were farmers.

Though I was born in Bhutan, I don’t know much about my country. We left when I was three to go to Nepal where we lived as refugees. That is where I grew up, learned English, and went to school. I completed high school and some college there.

It was hard to leave our country, home, and family in Bhutan. We lived in a refugee camp in Nepal and received education, which I am grateful for, but I also received the title of “refugee,” which I am not grateful for.

We had a good life in Bhutan, but we had to flee because of the unjust treatment of our people and ethnic cleansing. It is so sad, but I never lost hope. I always tell myself that there is nothing that can hide a goal you are set on achieving. So, I keep working hard to make something of myself. I remember in school when I was young, my family was poor. We didn’t have enough money for pens or pencils, so we faced difficulties in school. Nevertheless, in 2009 I started college, while working.

We always hoped we would have the opportunity to leave the refugee camp. Finally, we had the opportunity to resettle in a new country.

In 2010, my family and I came to the United States, on a loan (that we paid back in full) from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Through the International Rescue Committee (IRC) we were resettled in Abilene, Texas.

When we arrived here, I didn’t know anything or anybody. Given my family’s background in farming, I started working in landscaping. After a few years in this job, I wanted to do something different and make my own path. I remembered fondly my time in college, where I tried Italian and American food for the first time. Through my landscaping job, I had gotten to know some Italian people who owned their own restaurant. I eventually left landscaping to go work for them. After four months working for them, I opened my own restaurant.

My restaurant has become very popular here in Abilene, maybe you have tried Little Italy on the North Side of town. We serve pizza, pasta, and more. A few years after opening my first restaurant, I opened my second, Texas Flaming Grill on Ambler Avenue. We serve hamburgers, subs, and Philly cheese steaks.

Here, in the US, my family is thriving. My restaurant business is going well. It can be hard to manage, but I love to work, and I enjoy working with a diverse group of people.

I want to thank the IRC, who helped me resettle here in Abilene. I am grateful to live in a welcoming city that has received us as a part of this community.

Thank you, United States, for making a path for refugees to rebuild our lives here.