While in the U.S., he was granted asylum based on his being part of the ethnic-minority Tamils, who faced persecution and violence in
He opened his store, Abi Quick Shop (named after a niece in
With construction closing his block to traffic in parts of 2011 and 2012, business really slumped, Bob said yesterday. And during the "horrible winter" of snowstorms, "I didn't do any business at all" on some days, he said.
He didn't have enough money to restock his shelves with chips and drinks. Customers would walk in, then quickly walk out, he said. He thought of giving up, abandoning his shop.
But he got a "lifeboat," he said -- an
Last year, WORC established its Refugee Small Business Loan Program to help refugees and asylees in
WORC has been able to provide these loans after receiving
WORC has partnered with the
So far, 13 people have been granted loans under the new program, with the loans averaging
Although the loan was important, WORC also gave Bob something he was missing here, he said: "They recognized my work."
The center gave him a support system, said Bob, who does not have family here. He sends money home to his parents in
Besides working at his shop seven days a week, Bob works overnight shifts three times a week as a nursing assistant at Chester Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in
Bob, who has become a devotee of
A convert to the Mormon faith, he credits his new religion with helping him stay positive.
Tomorrow is World Refugee Day, and WORC is hoping that more refugees and asylees will seek training and loans. For more info, call WORC at 215-564-5500 or visit its website, worc-pa.com.
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