Meg Karki in the middle with Rachel Taber and Doug Hewitt, Co-founders of 1951 Coffee
When Meg Karki was 3 years old, his family fled their home country of Bhutan and spent the next 19 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. There, Meg went to school, studied and grew up. They lived among 1400 hundred families in a bamboo thatched hut provided by a refugee agency. He said life in the camp was terrible and very difficult. There was no hope. After a massive fire in 2007, his family had to flee again.
They could not go back to Bhutan or Nepal so they applied to come to the US and after a 3 1/2 year process were resettled by the IRC (International Rescue Committee) in 2011 in Oakland, California. Meg was 22 years old when he arrived.
Meg said he was so excited to come to the US where he thought there was hope for a new life. When he arrived, he met people at the IRC and felt well received. His desire was to go to college and study to enable him to work at an NGO so he could help other refugees after his own experience. Meg got his GED and went to Laney College in Oakland for 2 years. He had to leave for economic reasons to help his family.
Meg met Rachel and Doug at the IRC where he was volunteering at a training program. In 2016, when Rachel and Doug created 1951 Coffee, they offered Meg a job. He soon became a manager and trainer. While he never imagined he would work at a coffee shop, it turned out that this was the model non profit job he had always wanted, to work with refugees.
Meg said the first 6 months to a year is difficult for any new refugee, leaving their home country and learning a new culture and new language. He counsels new refugees to see their new life here with more opportunities, more peace and more of a future. Here, he says, you can do anything you want to do, if you work hard.
Meg feels like this is his home now. He received his US citizenship in 2016, one of the proudest moments of his life. He wants to help 1951 Coffee expand into other areas and continue to help new refugees. Meg wants to help educate the community about refugees and to see them as new neighbors. His message is, no matter where you are, you can help your neighbor in many ways… with transportation, learning the language in an ESL program or help to write an application for a job or college. For the refugee, he says, never quit or give up.
For more information about 1951 Coffee , go to their website, 1951 Coffee.