By Dr. D.N.S.Dhakal Published December 12, 2016
Over a hundred thousand refugees have moved out from the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal. Their final destinations have been United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and western Europe.
These are developed and democratic countries. People pay the huge price, even to the extent of risking life, to secure entry into these countries.
Many consider themselves fortunate to become citizens of these counties. They enjoy the prosperity and privileges which are not easily available back in their home countries. But we should not forget that the prosperity and privileges come with moral responsibility and obligation.
If we recall our situation back in the 1990s, American, Canadian, European and Australian visitors played a critical role to highlight the insecurity and injustice we had faced in Bhutan. They came forward to help us with food, shelter and providing basic health and education.
They had no relation whatsoever with the US. We do not look like them; neither do we practice their culture or religion. The only reason they came to our rescue was that they were the citizen of developed countries and custodian of moral consciousness.
As citizens of developed countries, I wish that our fellow resettled Bhutanese also begin thinking in that perspective.
There are many issues we can plan and work collectively. We can start making a contribution to the promotion of human rights and democracy, reduction of poverty, and promotion of education and health in the less privileged part of the world.
We should not forget that our transition is from rural hamlets in Bhutan. There are enormous opportunities to make the meaningful contribution in the life of those who are still struggling in everyday life to meet their daily ends.
Also, we spent more than two decades in Nepal using the local resources and sharing their limited space. If Nepal government had not come forward to help us in our testing time we would have remained dirt poor, perhaps begging in the streets for our daily needs.
It would be a fitting response if we could start contributing to the development of the refugee-impacted area in Nepal. The camps where we spent two decades have become grazing grounds of the local community. We have a stake there. The schools where we studied, the temples where we worshiped, and the grounds where we played carry two decades of our history. They deserve preservation for posterity!
Many things we can do. For example, Timai Camp area could become a stone park; the Khudunabari Camp area could become bio-diversity park; the Goaldhap Camp Area could become a children’s park for the local community. In fact, the local community of the Goaldhap Area has already taken some initiative to preserve the sanctity of the campsite area.
These areas if developed would preserve the history of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and serve as an important source of income for the local community from visitors’ fee.
Let us make a commitment from this year onward that we try to become active again as a group to make the meaningful contribution whether in Bhutan, refugee-impacted areas in Nepal or the border areas in India.
We owe a lot to these areas, we are now in a position to make a contribution, and we should not shy away from the responsibility of being citizens of developed countries.
Wishing You All Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!