Meet Bhola, Employee with Close Family Ties to SHIM - SHIM

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Meet Bhola, Employee with Close Family Ties to SHIM

SHIM driver Bhola with wife and daughter RitikaSHIM feels like one big family, and often we are connected to family members through various programs and services. You may remember reading about Youth Mentoring graduate Ritika, who recently graduated from Villanova and is now attending medical school. Now, we’re featuring her dad Bhola, who is a Community Aide and Driver for SHIM.

“My goal is to be a good, educated man, kind and helpful to others.”

Born in Bhutan, Bhola joined the forestry department when he was done with his schooling. When the Bhutanese government started expelling citizens with Nepali origin, Bhola’s family was exiled from the country. The king revoked their citizenship, and they were sent to live in a refugee camp in Nepal.

When Bhola arrived at the refugee camp, he told his story to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and put his name on their list to find citizenship in another country. His family received refugee status and his children began schooling within the camp.Bhola and his wife

Bhola found work as a driver in Nepal. He had experience driving at his forestry job and got a license in Nepal. He worked for a hospital, driving ambulances, nursing buses, and vans.

After years of waiting, UNHCR processed Bhola’s paperwork in 2011 and he began his journey to the US. Initially, he relocated to Texas, joining family members who had already established themselves there. Bhola, his wife, son, and daughter lived there for two years. As family members moved to Pittsburgh, they lost their community in Texas, so they followed the family to Pittsburgh in 2013.

When Bhola and his family moved to Pittsburgh, they lived close to SHIM’s South Hills Family Center in Whitehall. Relatives told them about SHIM’s food pantries, and they attended to help supplement their monthly grocery purchases. They liked the area because of the schools, and they were able to get a loan to buy a small house. While living in Whitehall, Bhola’s son Roshan volunteered at SHIM’s After School program, tutoring elementary-aged kids. He attended community college while he volunteered at SHIM’s food pantries. Roshan’s sister, Ritika, attended youth programs and remained adamant about remaining in the area until she was done with school.

“All the people at SHIM are nice and helpful.”

As his kids graduated and started their lives, Bhola wanted to buy a bigger house. Roshan completed his master’s degree in business management and began working at American Eagle Outfitters. At that time, Bhola purchased a larger home in South Park to share with Roshan and his wife. Soon after, Bhola found out about the full-time driver position at SHIM. He had driven part-time for SHIM in the past but needed full-time work to support his family. Bhola was excited to rejoin the SHIM team as a full-time employee.

“I like my job at SHIM. Everybody likes me and I like everybody. Everyone is smiling and saying Hi. We are good here. We all are good and cooperative.”

Bhola prides himself on being on time and helpful to SHIM clients. His work includes delivering food, transporting students, and sharing resources. Bhola speaks Nepali and can communicate with clients who are not as comfortable speaking English. He empathizes with their collective challenges in refugee camps and the hurdles of adapting to life in a new country. Bhola actively promotes accessing SHIM programs for neighbors facing difficulties.

One of the things he likes in his job is driving participants on field trips with SHIM’s support groups. The groups go with their families to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and South Park.

“When you go alone, it’s not as fun. When you go as a group, everyone takes care of all the babies and SHIM provides lunch, so everyone likes to come.” Bhola and Ritika

Bhola reflects on how he and his children are achieving their goals. After he and his wife spent years trading night shifts so someone could be home with the kids, he is relieved to have an easier schedule. Bhola is thankful for the help his daughter Ritika received at SHIM. He and his wife were unable to help her with school due to their limited English. They were worried that she wouldn’t be motivated to succeed, but SHIM’s Youth Mentoring coordinator and volunteers guided her through homework and the college application process. Bhola recalls that in Nepal, applying to college involved delivering a physical letter and engaging in face-to-face conversations. Today, the entire process is conducted online, and he found it challenging to understand when his daughter applied to schools.

Bhola is thankful for his life in the US. His children are getting a good education. He says even if Bhutan or Nepal invited them back, he would stay here. The US has a better education system leading to better jobs. Without education, families struggle just to meet basic needs.

“We have a better life over here. Even if they call and say we can go back we would not.”

We’re grateful to have Bhola on our team of neighbors helping neighbors! Interested in joining our team? Check out current employment openings.

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