Meet Prem Tamang
Prem, and his son Mima, meet Maggie and me in the office at Villa Verde. David, an adult, wanted to come to help translate for his father but, after a while, it turned into a highlight of Mima as well. Both men have great attitudes and life stories. It was fun to have a conversation with both of them.
Prem’s family is originally from Bhutan. During the 1990s the country initiated what they called an “ethnic cleanse,” trying to remove any ethnic Nepalis from the country. Prem’s family was a victim of this injustice and forced to live in Nepal as Bhutanese refugees for over 18 years.
“I was the first one to move to the United States with my wife, to help take care of her family,” Mima said, “The first place we lived was in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009.” Before long, Mima and his wife had moved out to Villa Verde to be closer to his wife’s family. His mother-in-law had ongoing health issues from a stroke and he wanted to contribute financially and with transportation to and from hospital visits.
“At first I didn’t want to bring my family out here because it was much more crowded in this part of Denver than where we lived in Atlanta. But it was taking a lot out of me to constantly travel back to Atlanta to make sure bills were paid and my parents were okay. So we moved my parents out here to Villa Verde as well.
“But there have been many good things for us living here because of Archway that we didn’t experience in Atlanta. We like it here very much.”
It was clear right away that Mima was a family man to his core. His primary goal is to care for his family, whether it is his parents, his own wife and kids, or his in-laws. Everything that he does, from his job to activities in his free time, is meant to better the lives of his family.
Finding a Home at Archway
Once the whole family had settled in at Villa Verde there was much relief for Mima. He drives for Uber and Lyft to support his family including many visits to the hospital for his mother-in-law.
“Any work I find is very important but I have to balance that with caring for my mother-in-law. I’ve worked at factories in the past but they aren’t as flexible with needing to leave to drive to appointments. That’s why Uber and Lyft have been good companies to work for, at least for me.”
“Aside from being close to the hospital, what are some of the things that have helped living here at Villa Verde?” Maggie asked.
“Everyone whom we have met that works here is like our family. Maggie, and Rachel before her, have always been available to help us with whatever we need. The food banks and grocery shopping have been very important for us. We didn’t have this anywhere else we lived.”
Maggie tells me that the feeling is mutual. Prem always helps to unload and set up food bank and assist with resident events.
“It’s nice for me because I don’t have to worry about them while I work,” Mima says. “I know that if there is anything they need, it’s here. And I know that my dad likes to get to know people, he likes to get out and do things. I drive around town and to and from the hospital, that’s all I have time for. My dad has been here half as long as I have and he knows everyone and everywhere.”
Mima says he gave a car to his parents, so they didn’t have to stay home. Prem loves to get out and fish and go to parks. Mima had a vehicle that he cherished but felt it was more important to give to his parents to use for their own lives.
“My parents took care of everything for me growing up. Now it’s my turn.”
A Close Family
Later on, we asked Mima where he learned English since he spoke very well. He said he was taking classes in Atlanta, but only up to 9th grade because it’s all his family could afford.
“If we had the resources for things like food and clothes the way we do here, maybe I could have kept taking classes. But we didn’t have that in Atlanta, and we had to make ends meet.
“When you are new to a country you feel helpless. You don’t know how things work; the language barrier makes it hard to know what’s going on. My brother and I were the oldest and had one sister. We decided, ‘you know, we’re going to go to work. We’re going to help ourselves.’ We wanted our sister to be able to do whatever she wanted, not to feel stuck at home.”
Prem tells us that his daughter is now about to be a doctor, having finished up classes in Atlanta.
“We didn’t want to put our sister down. In our country, we saw that often girls don’t finish school and they aren’t taken seriously. We didn’t want that for our sister.“
It was inspiring to hear the support Mima and Prem have for their family. Prem is a very proud father, and Mima a loving brother. He is always willing to take the brunt of responsibilities to make life easier and better for his loved ones.
Archway Soccer Tournament, Perhaps?
We ask Prem what he likes to do in his free time. He responded with lots of sports and exercise. He enjoys walking, soccer, volleyball, but Mima tells us their family loves to play soccer.
“We beat anyone who tries to play us. My dad is very, very good.” As a former athlete, I love anytime I hear passion and confidence in someone’s voice about a sport.
I looked to Maggie and said, “Do I hear the making of a soccer tournament challenge? Who can beat Prem’s family?”
We left the office already figuring out the details of a spring “Archway Soccer” event, Prem and Mima discussing the different family members that will stack their team. It made us all excited for the warm weather to come!