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Refugees Realize American Dream, Open Store in KCK

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Four years ago, two men and their families came to this country as refugees with only one bag of clothes and no idea what the future held in store. On Wednesday, the men celebrated opening their own business in Kansas City, Kan. It's called RG Asian Store on 18th Street, just north of I-70.

Ram Rai and his partner Hari Ghimire wanted to offer items from their homeland, the Asian country of Bhutan. They say the Napoli people in Bhutan were discriminated against and persecuted in the 90s. The United Nations says more than 100-thousand Bhutanese refugees were forced to flee their country and they have lived as refugees in Nepal for years.

"The people flee from the country because we didn't get any human rights," Rai said.

Between 2008 and 2010, 30-thousand Bhutanese have come to the U.S. as refugees. Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas helped some of them settle here in Kansas City. Abdul Osman runs the refugee program and says he's helped hundreds of refugees make a better life for themselves here.

"When they come to the us they have only one bag and don't know about the future," he said, "but they come here to start their new life to become American citizens."

Rai said while it was hard to leave his homeland, he knew he could never go back, so he's happy to make this his home now.

"We're here in Kansas City, Kansas, so let me have my Nepali store so I can provide Nepali items to my community people," he said.

Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas says they will settle some 175 refugees from Bhutan and Burma next year alone. And in two years they will start taking in refugees from the Congo area of Africa.

For more information about how you can help Catholic Charities refugee program, click here.

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