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Nepalese activist forms teen group

Adapting to a country such as the United States can be very difficult for immigrants. Many are not aware of their surroundings and hardly speak the language. But given time, an immigrant adult may find people from their homeland, who are facing the same predicament, and the bond between them can make an adopted residence feel like home.
Ram Babu Dhakal, a Nepalese immigrant living in Woodside who has worked for 20 years in diplomatic relations for his homeland, asks, “What about the youths?”
Dhakal believes teenagers suffer the most during immigration because he said they do not have an outlet where they can voice their own opinion and form their own identity.
“These youths are vulnerable since they are from a foreign country and they certainly are not comfortable,” Dhakal said. “But if they organize in a systematic way, the fear will go away.”
With this concept in mind, Dhakal created a community group called Nepalese Immigrant Youth Development and Human Rights (NIYDHR), to present a forum where Nepalese young adults can come together to discuss issues that concern them.
Dhakal took time away from his busy schedule as a law student at Touro Law College to spread the word about the group. With the help of the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights in Nepal (ADHRN), local Nepalese have become aware of NIYDHR’s existence.
The group’s first meeting, which took place last month at the Jackson Heights Community Church, focused on the problems facing the Nepalese immigrant youth. Participants talked about whether the young people are being marginalized in the community, in respect to their education, employment, working conditions, and documented or undocumented status.
They also discussed their concern that Nepalese customs and traditions are being lost during the assimilation process.
Dhakal hopes Nepalese teens use this forum to communicate with each other. If the Nepalese immigrant youth assemble and communicate, Dhakal believes it would help them preserve their cultural identity and create a stronger bond within the community.
“Without communication, we cannot solve any problems - we cannot be a community,” he said.
Despite the success of the meeting, the group does not plan to meet regularly. Instead, anyone interested in working with the group should contact Dhakal at youthforhumanrightsnyc@msn.com.
“This is a small effort, but hopefully drop by drop, we’ll make an ocean,” Dhakal said.

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