Let’s have something beneficent for the end of the day. (Well, end of the blogging day where I am. It’s morning in other places.) NPR tells us of a woman who climbed the corporate ladder and then hopped off it to do something helpful.

When Srirupa Dasgupta came to the U.S. from India to attend college in the mid-1980s, she was determined to work in high-tech, not the restaurant industry. But today, she owns a small restaurant and catering service in Lancaster, Pa., and employs primarily refugees who might have trouble finding work elsewhere.

She did work in high tech, but then she got tired of it. She was being an executive coach, and then

in 2008 she heard Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus speak about for-profit businesses that also have a social objective.

In 2010, Dasgupta opened Upohar as a catering business with a social mission of hiring refugees and others, such as homeless people, who have difficulty finding work. Last April she expanded and opened a restaurant. Employees are paid double the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour in Pennsylvania.

Tulsha Chauwan is a chef at the restaurant. Her family fled Bhutan in South Asia and then spent years in a refugee camp in Nepal before the U.S. granted permission to come here. Her favorite dish to make is eggplant tarkari, a dish that’s special to her because her mother taught her to make it.

Dasgupta says Chauwan was very shy at first, but now she’s bringing in new recipes regularly, hoping her boss will put them on the menu.

Rachel Bunkete is lead chef at Upohar and has her own favorite dish to cook: peanut stew. She learned how to make it growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.

In 2008 she fled the political, ethnic and religious conflicts there. Bunkete had to leave behind her husband and three children. Eventually she got permission to come to the U.S. Here she was able to make contact with her family again.

She’s saving money from her job to bring her family over.

It’s good to read about people like Srirupa Dasgupta in among all the killers and tormenters.

H/t Kausik.


  1. says

    I live in Pennsylvania. Lancaster’s a bit of a haul but I head through there once or twice a year; I’ll make sure I go to the restaurant!! Sounds yum-a-licious and good.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    That sounds terrific – except for the peanut stew. A friend’s husband was in the Peace Corps before they married, somewhere in Africa. And he came back with a recipe for peanut stew that they eat about once a week.
    Peanut butter
    Canned tomatoes
    The proportions don’t seem to make much difference – a can of tomatoes, a cup of peanut butter, some garlic, a medium onion cut up. You saute the garlic and onions, then mix in the tomatoes and peanut butter. Then you just eat it.
    It’s the most god-awful mess you ever tasted. I sure hope that either their recipe tastes a whole lot better, or they don’t serve it.

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