Pema Lama’s story

NYC

I came to the United States because I had no other choice. I lost my parents at 13 and married young. I had two kids with my husband before we got a divorce. He was becoming abusive so I knew I had to get us out of there. I wanted to change my life and offer a better life for my children. I decided to move to the United States and sent my children to boarding school.

My son was seven and my daughter was five and a half when I left Nepal. I was never able to bring them over. I missed all of my kid’s performances and life milestones. I called them daily but 24 years is a gap that you cannot rebuild. When they were younger, my children would say, “for my birthday, I want to touch my mom.”

Last year, I was finally able to visit them because I received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a Nepali. My employers were also generous and paid for three weeks off. After 24 years, I was finally able to see my kids face to face in Nepal. I cried when I saw them. I got to meet my three grandchildren, who are 5, 6, and 7 years old. We traveled out of town for one week and just spent time together at my children’s homes the other two weeks. It was a really nice moment.

I can’t move back to Nepal though. It’s too expensive. I send money to my kids every three months because they cannot make enough back home. It is a tough life there and there is a lot of corruption. They live paycheck to paycheck and need my earnings to survive.

I am so grateful for TPS and a good job. These two things have allowed me to see my children and support them. That’s why I am also a part of the TPS Alliance at Adhikaar. We share our stories and fight for our protected statuses.

We belong here. We deserve good jobs. I hope that me and other women like me will have opportunities to care for ourselves and our families, and the freedom to move between here and abroad where our families are.