U.S. ‘gave me everything,’ says refugee from Nepal
Maoist rebels in Nepal counted two reasons to hate Dharmendra Prasai.
First, he managed the biggest casino in Kathmandu.
Second, he campaigned for the ruling political party the rebels were fighting to evict.
“I was working for the casino over there,” Prasai said. “The situation was really going from bad to worse. There were all those Maoist killings going on and I was one of the targets.”
His employer, who was from Las Vegas, urged him to go into hiding.
“They wanted me to just to run from the situation,” he said. “You know the world over there ... There’s no security. Even the policemen were being killed. We were being robbed and constantly attacked. Nobody was secure over there, to be honest.”
In addition to his job as casino general manager, Prasai was targeted for death because of his political beliefs.
“I was in the oldest democratic party in the Nepali Congress. So, basically I worked with labor unions over there,” Prasai said.
The Maoists had their own labor unions, but opposed Prasai’s because his was democratic.
Prasai finally made it to the United States in 2002 and asked for asylum, which was granted. It took another four years before his wife and two children were able to join him, he said.
After helping to open several restaurants across the Western Slope, including the Nepal Restaurant at 356 Main St., Prasai graduated from Denny’s University and was hired as area manager for five restaurants in Los Angeles.
He left that job to follow his son to Grand Junction.
Today, Prasai manages the dining halls at Colorado Mesa University.
His son, Srijan, majors in accounting at CMU.
“Nepal is my home country. It is the place of my birth. But this country gave me everything,” Prasai said. “I passed my test on Feb. 19 ... I’m willing to join the American family, be a part of it, be productive.”