The hardest time of year is Dipawali, which is an important festival celebrated especially between brothers and sisters. Our friends are with their families and my wife, our children and I feel very, very sad that our whole families are not together. We love Australia but we will never feel properly settled without them.
I was born in Bhutan in 1975 in a small village. Shortly after me and my wife Yeshey married, the situation in my home country became very bad. The Government wanted there to just be one religion and one language in Bhutan, and they began torturing and killing large numbers of people like me who are Hindu and speak Nepali. My people were not safe and over 120 000 Bhutanese people were forced to leave. I left Bhutan in 1991 with my wife, my father and my brothers and sisters.
We made our way to Timai refugee camp in Nepal, where there were many Bhutanese people living in bamboo huts on the river bank. Life was hard. My family and I – 7 of us in total- shared a tiny hut. We lived there for over 19 years. School was difficult as I had only attended for four years back in Bhutan and had to spend years catching up, studying alongside young children. Yeshey and I had three children while we lived there, and we worried about what kind of future they would have.
Finally, in 2006, the United Nations and the Nepalese Government created a resettlement program so that people could move to third countries. Many people didn’t want to go to a third country, because they preferred to go back to Bhutan, but they understood that sadly, our country was still not safe for us.
My family and I were offered resettlement in Australia, which we were very happy about. On 8th March 2011, we moved to this country. My sister, however, couldn’t join us, as she had married a Nepalese man and had a baby. Her husband and son didn’t have visas to come here.
5 years later, my sister is still trying to join us, but she hasn’t been able to register her baby at the camp for resettlement. Things are very bad there now as there have been many cuts to the services. There is no school and healthcare is not good. They are living an unstable life and her little son has no future there. They are not even allowed to leave the camp.
Sadly, my wife’s family have not yet been offered resettlement either. We applied to bring her brother here three years ago but our case is still ongoing. In the meantime, he is also stuck in the refugee camp, where conditions are getting worse and worse.
It is very hard for my wife and I to be away from our families. My wife often feels depressed and we really miss our sister and brother. The hardest time of year is Dipawali, which is an important festival celebrated especially between brothers and sisters. Our friends are with their families and my wife, our children and I feel very, very sad that our whole families are not together. We love Australia but we will never feel properly settled without them. It’s very difficult knowing that they don’t have a safe, stable life.
If I could talk to the Australian government, first of all I would say thank you. Thank you for accepting me and my family here. However, I would also ask them to please make family reunion possible for my family and the thousands of others who are still waiting. Please bring our families here to safety.