Home, Sweet Homes!
For brothers Tom and Tanka Acharya, their families and their aging parents, all refugees from Nepal in South Asia, Cleveland has become home in many ways.
The Acharyas, who are part of the nearly 1,000 refugees who resettle in Northern Ohio each year, arrived in Cleveland three years ago after waiting for 17+ years in a refugee camp. No strangers to overcoming trials through perseverance, the Acharyas recently once again persevered to achieve a major goal – homeownership.
Just four years ago when Jim and Sharon Ditata, volunteer refugee mentors from BHITC, first met Tanka – one of the Acharya brothers – and his wife Indra, they were just beginning to build a new life and future for their children. At the time, the family lived in a small apartment and Indra spent many hours alone with the children in a new city while Tanka worked part-time to earn the only income for the family.
For a year, Sharon visited Indra once a week, answered any questions she had and helped her with things we take for granted – reading and going through mail, learning how to prepare and properly store American food and the importance of locking their apartment door. Over time, the Acharyas became more independent and began to prosper, and so their need for mentors lessened. Then, last August, Sharon received an unexpected call from the Acharyas saying they had bought a house and wanted she and Jim to come see it. It was a duplex the two families were going to share.
“I was more than a little worried for them,” said Sharon. “Buying your first home isn’t easy for someone who has lived here their whole life, let alone for people who are new to our country.”
Concerned the families were in over their heads, Sharon quickly met with the realtor. The home they selected needed too many major repairs so the Ditatas advised the Acharya brothers to cancel the contract. “Of course, that meant the hunt for the right home was on!” says Sharon.
To the Ditatas happy surprise, the Acharyas were already pre-approved and fully prepared to make a down payment on not one but two houses, as they wanted to live separately but within walking distance of each other. “I was just so proud of them when I learned that despite meager incomes they had saved a substantial amount of money toward their purchase,” said Sharon. “The Acharya family could definitely teach many of us about financial management and perseverance.”
In November of 2012, the Acharya families moved into their new homes – just nine houses apart.
Both brothers are proud to be homeowners. “We now have the space and freedom to host large events for our family,” said Tom. His brother, Tanka, reminds us how much these homes mean to the families, and says, “We’re free! So many people cannot do this [own a home] in their lifetime.”
“Volunteering as refugee mentors has been a great experience for Jim and I,” says Sharon. The most rewarding part is that you quickly see how easily you can make a difference. The refugees we’ve met have already come so far and they just need new friends in America. You can see how your little bit of help can really make them successful.”
To learn more about serving as a volunteer refugee mentor, contact BHITC at (216) 281-4673.