The ‘Tika’ Seals That They are Brothers

Big Brother Paul and Little Brother Ashis

For most of his life, Little Brother Ashis lived in a refugee camp. His family had fled Nepal, and waited for more than a decade to be resettled. Shortly after they were approved to enter the United States, they settled in Salt Lake City and Ashis was matched with Big Brother Paul.

Ashis’ parents say being matched with Paul is giving Ashis opportunities he never would have had otherwise.

“We did not have an education in our home country. We were very fortunate to resettle in America because now our children have the opportunity to have a good education, which means they can have a good life,” Ashis’ parents say. “Education is not just about school—we believe Paul is helping with Ashis’ education by providing him with a positive influence, good role-modeling, and helping him go in the right direction.”

“He really teaches me stuff that makes learning fun, which is why this relationship is working great for me.”

– Little Brother Ashis

Little Brother Ashis says his Brother not only takes him to do educational activities, like visit museums and libraries, but also infuses learning into their recreational activities, including Utah Jazz basketball games. “He uses the score of the game to help me with my math, asking how much the team is winning or losing by,” Ashis says. Paul also asks him to pick who he thinks will win. “I always pick the Jazz,” Ashis says. “Every game we go to, literally, the Jazz win. I think we are good luck for the Jazz.”

Paul and Ashis have spent a lot of time watching basketball, but also playing basketball together. Paul encourages Ashis to have goals and to focus on his progress. He challenges Ashis to try harder and to be confident. “I have noticed a big change from where my ball handling was then and is now,” Ashis says. “Paul knows how to talk with me. He even sometimes demonstrates to help me understand better.”

When Paul signed up to become a Big Brother, he says, he expected to do things like play basketball and watch the Jazz play. But he had no idea how impactful the match would be in his own life. Now, Ashis’ parents consider him family, and he says the same thing about them. Paul’s family is Greek, and he has introduced Ashis to his culture. “My family and I invited Ashis to a Greek Easter party, where he ate so much lamb and other Greek food that he almost had to sit out of my dad’s famous Easter egg hunt,” Paul says.

Ashis’ family also includes Paul in their traditions and holidays, including Bhai Tika. “We invited Paul because we feel like he is part of our family,” Ashis’ parents say. “As part of the traditional ceremony, we applied the ‘tika’ (a red paste) to Paul’s forehead. This symbolizes that Paul is part of the family – Paul and Ashis are brothers.”


Editor’s note: Statements from Ashis’ parents were translated by a family member.

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