Our Red, White and New honored citizens: Saad AlSaad (far left), CEO Paedia Mixon, Lilly Chhetri (center), Padam Giri, and Jeanine Ndayishimiye, wife of Ntirandekua Melchiade.
Saad AlSaad: Saad is a hero to two countries. Beginning in 2007, Saad worked as a translator with U.S. and Multi-National forces and helped to build the new Iraqi Army. Saad’s family, including his wife and two daughters, faced threats due to his support of U.S. efforts to build a new free Iraq, and had to be moved multiple times before they finally came to Georgia in 2010 for a new future. While Saad admits that he misses his native country, he is proud of the future he’s creating here in Atlanta for his girls. He’s proud of the future they have here, the safe schools, safe places, and equal opportunities. Saad says he’s looking forward to a future where his girls can work hard and achieve without the constant fear they could have lived in Iraq.
Padam Giri and Lilly Chhetri: After nearly 20 years in refugee camps themselves, Padam and Lilly know the value of community in making new Americans feel welcome. They are leaders in the local Bhutanese community. Lilly has worked hard in the growing customer service and retail fields since her arrival in 2009 while Padam has worked with New American Pathways, helping to welcome new arrivals to the area, since 2011 (then as RRISA). Padam, resettled by RRISA in 2010, is highly involved in the Bhutanese Community Association of Georgia, a cultural and community group that brings Bhutanese culture to metro Atlanta. This summer, he helped the Association raise over $25,000 for Nepali earthquake relief, and the Ambassador of Nepal traveled to Clarkston to receive the funds personally. Lilly received her citizenship in March 2015, and Padam, in July. Their final family members arrived earlier this month from refugee camps in Eastern Nepal, and they are lucky to have the expertise of Padam and Lilly to draw on during their transition.
Netra Dhakal: Netra has dedicated her life to giving back. In 2009, Netra, along with her husband, in-laws, and twin daughters, arrived in the U.S. after spending over 18 years as a refugee in a camp in Nepal. For 12 of those years she was a teacher—first in the camp and then at a boarding school just outside its gates. Soon after her arrival in Georgia, Netra began working at New American Pathways (then Refugee Family Services) as a member of the School Liaison team, helping her fellow Nepali community members prepare for school in America. Netra continues in this role and spends her weekends as a community builder with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. Her daughters are also an inspiration. At 13, they recently placed first with their team in the national Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) competition held in Washington, D.C.
Ntirandekura Melchiade: As a young boy, Ntirandekura Melchiade and his family fled a war in Burundi to what they thought would be safety in neighboring Congo. By 1972, the war there had taken both of Melchiade’s family, and three years later he would flee to Tanzania by boat, where he would live most of his adult life. In 2008, Melchiade, along with his wife and five children, finally got the break they had long waited for—they were coming to America. In April 2015, Melchiade gained his citizenship, a goal he worked long and hard to do. But that wasn’t his final goal. Melchiade now plans to go back to school so he can become certified to be a teacher, a career he held for most of his life in Tanzania. Education is important to him. His children are flourishing in DeKalb County schools and Melchiade wants to be there to help more children in need find their success as well.