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  • Back in Guyana, David Ramsawmy worked in his family's retail business. Three days a week he worked from the shop, selling to customers, two days a week were spent going back and forth along the main road, selling wholesale products to others businesses. One day he'd go east up the road, the other west. And that's all there was: there was nothing else in town, no opportunity to advance or change his life. He felt oppressed by circumstance. "And I heard about America," he says. "It's so nice, it's such a clean place, you could get anything you wanted. So I said, 'Hey, I'm going to make my way to America.'" He was 20 at the time.

    On March 12, 1982, Ramsawmy's father died. On March 13, Ramsawmy packed a backpack: two pairs of pants, two shirts and his passport. And in the early hours of the morning he left home without telling his family.

    Ramsawmy went to the city and eventually flew into Canada. He worked his way down to the United States, living here illegally for five years. He did odd-jobs, anything to make ends meet, until he got a job in textile manufacturing. After 18 years in that job, where he rose from making $3.75 per hour job doing manual labor to making $27.50 per hour as a manager. Then he set out to start his own business in Richmond Hill.

    "I had some good times, I had some really bad times," he says. "A lot of people been here longer than I am but they haven't accomplished anything. But I have. I've got my own little business, house, family. I did well."
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