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Ad Council - #EmbraceRefugees

Abishkar Chhetri was born and raised in a refugee camp in Eastern Nepal, where living conditions were less than ideal.

An inside look at one of the many refugee camps in Nepal. Image via Jesuit Refuge Service/YouTube.


His family lived in a bamboo house, food and water were scarce, and he had to trek three miles just to get to school, which then presented its own set of challenges. The floors were dusty, there wasn’t any proper furniture, and all the kids had to sit on the floor squished together.

But despite all that, Abishkar’s desire to learn never wavered.

His parents decided to move to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, so that they could provide Abishkar and his sister, Amisha, with a better life and education.

In ancient times, Kathmandu was in the middle of the trade route connecting India and Tibet, giving birth to a fusion of art and culture. Image via Sharada Prasad/Flickr.

At 7 years old, Abishkar was clearly thriving. He described the experience to MIT News as "a new world for me — a place where I can be curious, and finally study without worrying about what I’m going to eat."

It seemed like the start of an exciting new way of life. But sadly, it didn’t last. The family hit some financial trouble and were forced to return to the refugee camp where they started after only a few years. It was back to square one.

Yet somehow, it was a blessing in disguise.

In their return, they learned about the U.S. resettlement program. And with the help of the International Rescue Committee, they were soon relocated to Decatur, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.

Abishkar was now 13 and began attending Druid Hills High School. The quality of living was much better, but a new set of challenges arose.

Druid Hills High School is known for its highly competitive academics. Image via Titaniumjjp/Wikimedia Commons.

"I was in a state of disillusionment. I felt lonely. The language barrier was turning out to be a big hurdle, and I almost felt like all of the hopes and aspirations would be left unfulfilled," Abishkar told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But I knew I had to make the most of the opportunity here. My parents had made big sacrifices for me and my sister’s education, so I had to do everything I could to make them happy."

Undeterred, Abishkar put in the work and persevered.

In fact, he got really smart about his process. While he was still trying to grasp the English language, he put a lot of effort into making sure he excelled at math. It was an ingenious way to build momentum and confidence in his abilities.

Solving math like it's his business. GIF via "The Hangover."

Through some self-teaching, Abishkar's English eventually caught up. He watched countless history documentaries and YouTube videos on class subjects and even listened to audiobooks to improve his skills as much as possible. His classmates took notice, nicknaming him "workaholic" for all the extra hours he put in.

But his teacher and mentor, Alexandra Salivia, paints the picture a little differently. "The thing that sets him apart is his determination, self-discipline and resilience, and he doesn’t just do it for a while but he does it with consistency," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Abishkar was named valedictorian and offered a full scholarship at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

MIT's Great Dome looks even greater at night. Image via Eric Baetscher/Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a testament to the tireless work ethic he displayed, not just in high school, but all throughout his life. And while the uncertainty of what lies ahead is now more exciting than it is unnerving, Abishkar knows one thing to be true. He wants to help people, plain and simple.

"If you have a goal, follow your heart," he concluded to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "And be thankful for what you have. Recognize what you have and make the most of your opportunities."

Abishkar is a shining example of the great things anyone — including refugees — can do if we allow them the opportunity to succeed.

The faces of the future! Image via the International Organization for Migration/YouTube.

Unfortunately, stories like his — of which there are many — aren’t often the ones we hear. The topic of refugees is still a polarizing one in America, and sometimes it's easy to forget that there are real people at the heart of the issue.

A survey in Colorado found that after four years of life in the U.S., most refugees were "happy, productive, and integrating" members of society. Research like this and stories like Abishkar’s show that if we provide refugees with the support they need, they can go on to do amazing things that have the potential to give a lot back to the communities they live in.

Can you imagine seeing that kind of progress across the entire country? Sounds like the American dream, if you ask me.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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