"I am from Bhutan, my father was from Bhutan and my grandfather was from Bhutan, but as we belong to the Nepalese-speaking people of Bhutan, we had to leave.
We were farmers in Bhutan, but when we arrived in Eastern Nepal as refugees in 1991, we had nothing. We went to the local government for help; they gave us written authorisation to beg. Then the first aid organisations arrived. They provided us with food, blankets, medicine and shelter.
There were seven Bhutanese Refugee Camps in Eastern Nepal. The one I lived in was the biggest with a population of 24,000 people. People got educated, lived and died there. My own father passed away there. I was a social worker.
After 19 years in the refugee camp, we were given the option of settling in another country. We were advised to go to Australia and the UNHCR helped us attend an interview at the Australian High Commission. They asked many questions and we had to pass a medical examination, but we were granted a visa and in February 2010, with the help of the IOM, we arrived in Launceston, Tasmania.
Australia is very different from Nepal. We’ve had stress, but we’ve received help from the locals and organisations and slowly, we are getting more relaxed. Launceston is home now.
There are about 2,000 Bhutanese people in Launceston and Hobart, of which most are from the same camp I came from. I provide support as the chairman of the Australian Bhutanese Society of Northern Tasmania. I also work in the wider community as a support worker.
I had lived in Nepal for almost 20 years, but I didn’t have anything when I left – no job, no money and no citizenship. Everyone said “You are a refugee.” In Australia, no one says that. I am very proud to be an Australian citizen."