Spokane Gives “Second Life” after 22 Years in a Refugee Camp

Every now and then, life gives us a second chance to restart our lives. This can look different for many people; graduating college, moving to a new city, starting a job, or entering into a relationship. For Dil Khadka, he received his “second life” when he moved to Spokane.

Dil spent 22 years in a refugee camp in Nepal after fleeing from Bhutan at the age of 8. He was located at one of the many Bhutanese refugee camps that were established in the early 90’s. This is where he grew up and met his wife. Dil finally arrived in America in June of 2010 with only $22 between him and his wife.  

Having a brother in Spokane made this a perfect place for him to raise his family. After arriving in America, Dil and his wife had two little girls, now six and four years old.  

Life In Spokane

At first, Dil wanted to go to college in order to get a degree in computer technology, but soon after having his first daughter in 2012, he realized that it would be wise for him to learn a practical trade in order to pay the bills. He decided to go to beauty school in Spokane in order to turn a hobby into a career.

At the International Beauty Education Center, School Director, Kathy Nguyen, spoke well of Dil. “Dil always worked really hard and was an eager learner. He not only came to school but was also working part-time in order to support his family.” She continued, “We get many refugees who come through our school. Regardless of their nationality, their success comes down to their passion and commitment to their education. Dil was just as passionate and committed as the rest of them.”

Dil graduated from IBEC in September 2017 and was officially licensed as a cosmetologist with his own business in January 2018. While his business continues to grow, Dil is working at Winco on the night crew in order to support his family. His hard work stems from his commitment to being a good husband, father, and citizen of Spokane.

“Spokane has given me a second life,” Dil proclaimed. “When I first came to Spokane, I was so grateful for the opportunity to be here, away from the camp, but I didn’t have anything to give back to the community. I want to give back to the city that gave me this second life.”

Giving Back

“I don’t have much money, but I have a skill that I can use to give back. I want to help refugees, like me, who come to America and don’t have much money for small things, like a haircut. It is hard engaging with the community as a refugee. Most refugees are going through culture shock and don’t speak English. I have come through that. I have felt the same things, that is why I want to give back to this community.”

Dil is committed to providing refugees, veterans, homeless, and those struggling with free services. In part, because he is a family man himself, Dil has a passion to help families and those struggling to support themselves.

“I want to provide newly arrived refugees and those struggling with free services at my shop,” Dil said. “Most refugees don’t know the terms that we use here in America and need someone to be extra patient with them.”

Having been in a refugee camp for 22 years and moving to America with little English, Dil is able to empathize with the rest of the refugee community in Spokane. Since he has been in their situation, he is able to be more patient with them and think of creative ways to help them communicate. He said, “We may not be from the same place before we came to America, but we have a lot of the same experiences. I think this helps me engage with other refugees.”

Outside of the free services, Dil says his prices are affordable for all families. His shop, All Eyes on Me Beauty & Spa, offers haircuts at $7.99 for kids and $9.99 for adults. He also offers a variety of other services which he posts on his Facebook page, All Eyes on Me Beauty & Spa.

Currently, his shop is located inside Wrightway Beauty Supply (2103 N Division St.) in Spokane, but he has hopes of moving into his own building as soon as possible. Considering Dil’s passion and work ethic, that shouldn’t be too far away.

Zak Sommers, World Relief Spokane’s Digital Communications Intern, wrote this blog post.