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Photo ofPoonam Ghalley

When I was in elementary school, I met a sweet boy named Kushal. He was a small, dark haired, tan Nepali boy. His family had recently moved from a refugee camp in Nepal, like my family did. He was in  the same grade as I was, but I didn’t talk to him because I was shy. Refugees like us, had to face many challenges, such as helping our parents, keeping up with school, and working. Many of us started to feel isolated and lonely. In middle school, I ended up hanging out with Kushal more and often played soccer with him. Neither of us knew how to play well, so we would practice together. We went to the park near our house after school and would pracice until it got dark outside.  In the middle of seventh grade, Kushal moved to a different school, so we didn’t have much time to hang out. During our junior year of high school, my friends and I started working in different places, so it was hard for all of us to get together. One special day though, we did gather for a party. On October 20, 2019, my friends and I were at my cousin’s home to celebrate her birthday. We were very happy, and it was very special for us be- cause everyone was together after a long time. After the celebration, around 1:00 a.m., Kushal and I had to go home. The next day, when I was heading to work, I saw Kushal when I was walking, and he asked me if I knew where his friend lived. That was the last time I ever saw him.  After a week, on November 8, 2019, I heard that Kushal had killed himself. I did not take it seriously when I first heard. I thought it was a prank. But then, the news spread, and my friends began to call me. Later, my cousin called me, and I told her to go to Kushal’s house and check if it is true or not. We were curious and very scared, hoping the news was fake. After some time, they called me and told me that the news was true. My cousin called her mom and asked her. Her mom replied, “Yes, he is no more.” My cousin and I still couldn’t believe that he would do that and leave us.  My cousin asked our manager to let her go home. Since our manager was also Nepali, he let her go, and he even helped her by giving her a ride to Kushal’s home. After she got there, she texted me saying, “It is true. He is no more.” Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I was in shock. I wanted to go see him, but since there were no other workers that day, I couldn’t go. No one knew why he hung himself. It was a mystery to all his friends and to his family. Everyone said that the day before he committed suicide, he seemed very happy.  After two days, there was a funeral, and I told my manager that I would be late because I wanted to go see him for the last time. It was very hard for us to see him like that because he wasn’t only our friend, he was like a brother to us. We had lots of good memories together and he was always there for us when we needed him. As a young girl, having had a friend like him was very precious, especially when I was new to America.  After he left, my point of view of many things changed. I started to see the value in my relationships with my friends and my family. My friends and I started to spend more time together and support each other more. 

© Poonam Ghalley . All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.