Child refugees become model students

Picture courtesy : DIANA NELSON JONES/Staff blogs(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Thirteen members of the Bhutanese Student Group of Pittsburgh spent the morning Tuesday cleaning litter and debris from the streets and green spaces in Prospect Park in Whitehall.

Picture courtesy : DIANA NELSON JONES/Staff blogs(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

These are high school and college students who, until a few years ago, were living in a refugee camp in Nepal after having been forced to flee Bhutan because of ethnic discrimination.

Ragu Gautam was born in the camp that he grew up in. His sister Uma remembers arriving there when she was about 5.

Prospect Park is home to many hundreds of Bhutanis who are ethnic Nepalese who fled Bhutan. Many spent 15, 20 years as refugees in camps before being cleared by the state department to migrate to welcoming countries.

Bhim Dahal said that Pittsburgh has been quite welcoming. He just finished at the Community College of Allegheny County and hopes to get into the University of Pittsburgh to study biomedical engineering.

Ragu is entering Duquesne University this fall to study neuroscience, and Uma is currently studying at CCAC and wants to pursue a career in nursing.

They are photographed at right with bags and rubber gloves that they bought by selling T-shirts and a documentary that they made. It is in their language but they hope to have it translated for wider distribution.

The photo below shows Ragu picking up tiny pieces of glass that used to be a beer bottle. Ragu has a scholarship but he is also working as a night janitor, a job to which he rides the trolley.

The students formed the club in 2011 to begin offering information and support to younger students who needed help with scholarship and financial aid applications.

They also try to be role models for younger kids, to keep them from getting into trouble. And they accompany their elders to appointments and to shop, usually on the bus, as translators.

CourtesyStaff blogs/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


  1. thank u very much for bns on publishing the news based on bhitanese students who are living in us who came as tcr process and struggling for brighter and better future. And thanks to all the friends for creating the feeling of ownership that it is our home so we should keep it claen and tidy.