Photo essay by Ayush Dahal
My name is Ayush Dahal. I am 13 years old and attend Cal Prep Charter School. I grew up in San Pablo, California.
My parents immigrated from Nepal and came to America in search of a better life. They worked hours on end to provide for us and it was hard for them. Like many immigrant families, they relied on their children to help them navigate and settle in the US.
The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live. My parents had minimum wage jobs that paid $6.25 an hour and they had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet for our family.
My parents had to deal with unfair treatment in the workplace. For example, my mom’s supervisor forced her to resign. Because my parents were immigrants from Nepal, they did not know what type of rights they had as workers.
Additionally, time and lack of resources in the community did not allow space for their learning. Sometimes, they weren’t even aware of the little resources that may have been available.
At a young age, I remember life being very hard for my parents and myself. We had to rely on my older sisters a lot as they because they knew about more resources through their education.
I joined the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) in elementary school because I wanted to make a difference in my community. Through my work at APEN, we’re fighting for resources that will support working families like mine to have better working conditions and link them to resources.
One big campaign that we are working on this year is the Schools and Communities First Campaign. Schools and Communities First will bring more money to support job development programs and invest in culturally appropriate resources so that my parents and other families like ours can have the support we need to thrive in this community.
Ayush Dahal is a youth leader at APEN in Richmond, California. Ayush’s family immigrated from Nepal to the US in 2004. Ayush joined APEN at the age of 10 and has been committed to creating positive change in his community ever since.