MANCHESTER— Over the past three years, Tika Acharya has led a nonprofit refugee organization, worked for the state as a contract administrator, interned at a major insurance company and, along the way, raised a newborn son.
It's a busy life, considering that prior to his arrival in the United States three years ago, Acharya and his family spent much of their lives in refugee camps in Nepal. Acharya is a refugee from Bhutan, a small country in the mountains between India and the Tibetan region of China.
Acharya is among the hundreds of Bhutanese refugees who have settled in Manchester in recent years, and he has emerged as a leader of the community not only here, but across the state.
He's the executive director of the Bhutanese Community of New Hampshire, an organization that aims to unite and assist the more than 2,000 refugees from the country that have been resettled in New Hampshire over the past few years.
Acharya said the Bhutanese face many challenges, given the slow economy and the language barrier, which can be especially daunting for members of the older generation.
The youth, however, are learning fast, Acharya said. "We're optimistic and hopeful we'll be able to overcome these challenges and make a productive contribution to the U.S.," he said.
Acharya is part of a four-generation family in Manchester; his parents and grandparents have joined him and his wife and 3-year-old son, who was born shortly after they arrived in the country.
Having graduated from college in India with degrees in business administration, Acharya has used his language skills and training to help the wider community, which is generally less educated.
He is organizing after-school tutoring for Bhutanese youth and other training programs. "We want our kids to get into top colleges like MIT," he said. "We also want our people to get involved in entrepreneurship, so they are not only employees but employers and can help the economy to grow."
Acharya is also involved in plans to open Manchester's first Bhutanese grocery store, which is planned for a site across from the Market Basket on Elm Street. The store will specialize in products from India, with which the Bhutanese have cultural affinity.