Last week I reported to you that a young Bhutanese refugee was murdered in the parking lot of an apartment building where he and other recently arrived Bhutanese were placed—-an apartment building that by all accounts is in a crime ridden neighborhood of Jacksonville. Here is an update story that I missed from Tuesday. No mention of the details of the armed robbery—the shooter took his wallet and cell phone— it’s a story about how the refugees came to be in the US.
Half a world away and 34 years ago, Shiv Adhikari was born in a small farming village in southern Bhutan.
As a child, his greatest gift — a love of learning — would come from his father, a self-taught priest and village elder. It would be years before Adhikari would know how education would be his escape hatch.
His story is emblematic of the hope and fears of Bhutanese refugees, as many as 60,000 of whom could be resettled in the United States after nearly two decades without a homeland. Approximately 60 families are in Jacksonville; thousands could come to Florida.
Less than a year after they have arrived, the Bhutanese refugees are largely unknown to Jacksonville. Yet their mutual introduction was hijacked by a senseless act of violence: The slaying of Hari Adhikari, 21, who was robbed and killed on July 27.
The killing, however, appears to have no effect on plans to bring more refugees to Florida. The US is planning to resettle 60,000 Bhutanese of Nepali origin over the next 5 years. I guess despite the lack of jobs in our still floundering economy this article says 5000 will be going to Florida.
In Jacksonville, the refugees are assigned to resettlement agencies such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and World Relief, where they get help for the first 90 days, said Elaine Carson, director of World Relief’s Jacksonville office. Managers help them get Social Security cards, some English training and jobs.
But the Bhutanese lack the supports that many other refugees have here. Only a few dozen people of Nepali descent live in Jacksonville, although many of them have helped.
Prior to the resettlements, there were only about 150 Bhutanese in the United States, according to a refugee briefing document from the Cultural Orientation Resource Center.
The refugees began arriving in Jacksonville in 2008, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades. Jobs have been scarce, even for those who speak English and have degrees.
Approximately 5,000 refugees may come to Florida, said Dharma Acharya, who came from Nepal to attend college and has lived in Jacksonville for 15 years.
We have written extensively for two years about the Bhutanese refugee issue, for more information use our search function and type in “Bhutanese refugees” to learn more.