Local family exploring international business with a purpose

By SARALYN NORKUS Staff Writer
Posted 7/16/17

Leaving the comforts of home behind, Kevin Bowling and his family have moved across the world to help make a difference in the lives of youth in Darjeeling, India.

“For my family, one of the …

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Local family exploring international business with a purpose

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Leaving the comforts of home behind, Kevin Bowling and his family have moved across the world to help make a difference in the lives of youth in Darjeeling, India.

“For my family, one of the biggest changes that has happened is we’ve kind of woken up to the fact there is a world outside of Cleveland, Tennessee,” Bowling stated.

“We feel very sheltered. Cleveland is a phenomenal city. You can get everything you want and it feels good here, and then you pull yourself out of that and go to a place like India and realize there is a lot going on we don’t pay attention to because we don’t have to.”

Bowling and his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Shi Mae, Judah and Mercy, have been living in Darjeeling for the past two years, where they have opened up a cafe in the Himalayan foothills town.

“We are trying our hand at international business, which is a little harder than you’d expect – there’s a lot of paperwork to jump through,” Bowling said.

The idea to open the cafe came from business 101: find a problem you can solve.

Not only is Darjeeling a tourist destination, but it is also ian educational hub, with 21 boarding schools, four colleges and a nursing school. It’s proximity to Nepal, Bhutan and China helps with the influx of students. The Bowlings noticed the students didn’t really have a place to go hangout after school, which led to them getting themselves into trouble.

The cafe has become their solution to the problem.

“The biggest thing is to give the youth in the area a safe place to gather, study and be themselves outside of negative influences of alcohol, drugs and other things that can creep in to that type of community,” Bowling explained.

Darjeeling is currently experiencing unrest, as the region is looking to become its own state, separate from West Bengal. The Gorkhaland movement has led to a strike, which has caused a complete shutdown in the area: with there reportedly being no transport, closed up shops, banks and ATMs, no internet and no tourists. The Bowlings’ cafe is also currently closed.

“It’s hard to sum up 90 years of problems into a real quick statement, but it’s almost like the 1960s there, where in the U.S. it was the Civil Rights Movement and there it’s the Gorkha Rights movement,” Bowling detailed.

“It’s been 90 years of taxation without adequate representation. Ninety years of oppression and being seen as a second-class citizen because they don’t speak Bengali, they don’t worship the same way and don’t eat the same foods. It basically is its own state already.”

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email: saralyn.norkus@ clevelandbanner.com

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