Every refugee who arrives in the United States has a story to tell. Many have come from long journeys. After fleeing their homelands, some have spent months or even years in a refugee camp before achieving refugee status. Finally, they are flown into a U.S. airport where they are greeted by strangers. At PRERNA, we welcome these refugees and hope the strangers will soon become friends. We’d like to share a few stories about the refugees who have crossed our path and are now resettled and thriving in their new home as Americans.
As a courageous investigative journalist, Poddala Jayantha fought vigorously for media freedom and anti-corruption during his 20-year career in Sri Lanka. Because of his work, he was abducted and assaulted in 2009. Fearing for their lives, he and his family fled to the U.S. as refugees. After they arrived, PRERNA founder Meena Sankaran started their journey to resettle in the U.S. by providing them with basic services: housing, food, clothing, medical care. In November 2010, Jayantha received the Transparency International Integrity Award 2009-2010 for his fearless dedication to exposing injustice in Sri Lanka. Today, Jayantha and his family are in New York where he is working and his daughter is excelling in college as a Civil Engineering student. They enjoy living in a diverse society where they can interact with other Sri Lankans and Americans in their community. Read more about Poddala Jayantha.
Prajwal Neupane had been a refugee his entire life until he arrived in the U.S. in 2009 at the age of 17. Due to the conflict and violence in Burma, his parents and two older brothers fled to Nepal in 1986. After living in a Nepalese refugee camp for nearly 20 years, he and his family resettled in Arizona where PRERNA helped them restart their lives. In this short video, Neupane talks about his journey in America from finding a place to live to learning English. Through PRERNA’s guidance, he has prepared for higher education studies and enrolled at Arizona State University. Neupane is the first in his family to go to college and he now wants to be a role model for other refugee children and adults who are waiting to build a safe and secure future in the U.S. Watch the video to learn more about Neuupane.