Suman Tamant, David Reed, Yadhav Subedi, Ram Shrestha, and Tika Dhungana, pictured with Barb Taylor, Chief Development Officer for the American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region, visited the Red Cross office in Harrisburg on Tuesday, June 10, to deliver a donation of nearly $4,000 to go toward the American Red Cross Nepal Earthquake relief effort. The group, consisting of mostly Bhutanese refugees who have settled in the area over the past several years, came on behalf of their recently established nonprofit, the Bhutanese Community in Harrisburg Relief Fund.
“We want to encourage the Nepalese by uniting with them in their struggle,” commented Tika, immediate past president of the organization, when explaining their desire to donate to this effort. “Most of our people are warehouse and hotel workers who do not have a lot. They did not give with their wallets, they gave with their hearts.”
The majority of the money was raised during a candlelight vigil that the group held for the people of Nepal in Harrisburg’s Lingle Park on Sunday, May 3. Close to 300 members of the Bhutanese community attended the event.
“We believe that service to mankind is service to God,” added Suman when explaining the tremendous generosity of the donations received from the local Bhutanese community and the desire to give to others through the American Red Cross as a show of appreciation for the support they received during their journey as refugees.
“The Red Cross is everywhere. Any disaster, the Red Cross is there,” noted Tika. “When we were forced to a refugee camp down by a river with no shelter and no food, it was the very generous people of the Red Cross who provided for us.”
The group’s liaison, David Reed, stated that the United States government initially said they would resettle 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. That number has increased, and today close to 80,000 have settled in the United States. In the Harrisburg and Lancaster area, Catholic Charities and Church World Service became the sponsoring organizations respectively, providing local support to the refugees during their first three to six months in the United States. While not all refugees initially came to the Greater Harrisburg area, many relocated here due to the welcoming community and numerous employment opportunities. Today, there are roughly 5,000 people from Bhutan living in the Greater Harrisburg area. They have formed a vibrant community that now seeks to help others.