Bhutanese Community in Buffalo, NY

By Dr. D.N.S.Dhakal

Purosotum Ghimre of Lalai block from Goldhap camp was the first family to resettle in 2008. The primary resettlement was 2200 though the number could be anywhere now from 3000 to 4000 because of remigration.

Remigration is a trend among the resettled Bhutanese. The decision for remigration are for job opportunities, family connection, Medicare and Social benefits. There are no exact estimate, but the remigration is significant in Buffalo because of extreme winter.

Buffalo had four suicide cases in the past. Bhutanese Nepali Community of Buffalo (BNCB) is vigilant on the community and undertakes “Stop Suicide’ campaign. The BNCB is being supported by local NGO Journey’s End Refugees Services (JERS).

Buffalo, NY

Dr. D.N.S Dhakal with Buffalo Bhutanese community leaders.

The JERS is very active with the immigrant communities and its role had been very crucial for the resettled Bhutanese at least during the initial phase. Bryana DiFonzo, Manager of Volunteers, and Bishnu Adhikari, Employment Specialist, provide much needed support to BNCB. Bishnu is form Timai camp, originating from Danabari block, Gylemphug Dungkhag.

Lamin Tamang, President of BNCB, from Beldangi II and Samrang block, is very optimistic about the future of Bhutanese community. He says, “We are doing very well in education. So far we have produced 50 graduates, of which 50% are in IT and 50% are in nursing. We are focusing on children’s education”.

Many families have started buying homes. The price bracket is 60 to 100 thousand dollar. About 10% of families own home. The number is likely to increase sharply as the families decide to firm up their decision for permanent location.

The BNCB has very active members. It has very senior member like Suryman Khadkha, who had worked in Bhutan as mondal of Sibsso and Samrang block. At the age of 75, he drives car around Buffalo city after earning diver’s license recently.

BNCB also has young and ambitious member. Som Dhital of Dagapela Block, is working hard to qualify for medicinal education. His ambition is to become a surgeon, and is trying to inspire other students to aim for university education.

Lamin Tamang believes that there is a need to increase inter-connectivity among the resettled Bhutanese. He hopes that Bhutanese community overcome the fractional mind-set inherited from the camps and organize themselves as a powerful block to survive and foster in the competitive global environment.