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Immigrant business woman in Charlottetown giving back to community

Charlottetown immigrant Ramila Agrawal, who has been running the Indian food store, The Spice Store, on St. Peters Road, gave a portion of her profits to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation this month as a way to thank the community for making her feel welcome when she moved to the P.E.I. capital from Dubai almost four years ago.
Charlottetown immigrant Ramila Agrawal, who has been running the Indian food store, The Spice Store, on St. Peters Road, gave a portion of her profits to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation this month as a way to thank the community for making her feel welcome when she moved to the P.E.I. capital from Dubai almost four years ago. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

A Charlottetown immigrant who feels embraced by the community has decided to give back.

Ramila Agrawal moved to the P.E.I. capital almost four years ago from Dubai and immediately fell in love with the city and its people.

Through the Provincial Nominee Program, she set up a business called The Spice Store a year after getting settled into the community with her three children.

She said the store, located across from Fair Isle Ford on St. Peters Road, has grown into a successful business, so she is donating $1,000 from the business to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation as a small way to thank the community for everything it has done for her.

Agrawal, who made the donation earlier this month, said she’s still astounded at how easy the community made fitting in.

“The ease with which I settled in ...’’ Agrawal said, struggling to find the right words to describe how grateful she is.

“I don’t think anybody (on P.E.I.) should take for granted that they’re able to enjoy a healthy, secure lifestyle here. It’s not easily available everywhere in the world.’’

“I’m coming into a new place. I’ve never lived in Canada before. Your education is taken care of, your health (care) is taken care of right from the day you land. I didn’t find it hard to mesh in or (adapt) to the culture or the people.’’

Ed Lawlor, chairman of the foundation, said the hospital is touched by Agrawal’s generosity.

“Our hospital foundation is pleased to be the recipient of this first-time gift from a new Island business who is also a new immigrant to our province,’’ Lawlor said.

“We are excited and proud to be chosen as this means investing in health care is also important to the many new families who are arriving from around the world.’’

Agrawal said she and her husband, who still works in Dubai, were determined to give back from the day The Spice Store opened, once the business was sustainable. Agrawal was hopeful she would get a decent Indian clientele but was surprised Islanders were also stopping in to check things out. She said the reception by everyone has made giving back possible.

Ramila Agrawal said she has found being a business owner in Charlottetown for nearly four years to be a rewarding experience, explaining that she has been overwhelmed at how the community has accepted her. A year after settling in with her family, she opened The Spice Store on St. Peters Road. She is pictured here with her co-worker Abel Thankachan. - Dave Stewart
Ramila Agrawal said she has found being a business owner in Charlottetown for nearly four years to be a rewarding experience, explaining that she has been overwhelmed at how the community has accepted her. A year after settling in with her family, she opened The Spice Store on St. Peters Road. She is pictured here with her co-worker Abel Thankachan. - Dave Stewart

“Now that it is a sustainable operation I told my husband we should make good on that first day’s promise and we decided to give to the QEH. It’s just about giving back to the people and the community and the Island for what we have got from them.’’

Agrawal was born in India but her parents moved to Dubai a month later. She said education is expensive back home and while health care is available, it can be offered in tiers.

“I don’t think anybody (on P.E.I.) should take for granted that they’re able to enjoy a healthy, secure lifestyle here. It’s not easily available everywhere in the world.’’

Agrawal is hoping to make the community donation an annual thing.

“God willing, if we are able to sustain our business, I would like to do something every year towards the (public) services which help us and our family and our life here. (The next donation) might be to the Public Schools Branch, an old age home, something which has given all of us a good life here.’’


Twitter.com/DveStewart

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