Hemlal's story continued ...
Arrival in Canada
With lots of expectation and hope of being able to restart my own life all over again we landed in Canada. Some of the difficulties that we had to face were the extreme weather conditions, acquiring a driver’s license (I failed three times before I got one) and getting a job - everyone wanted to know whether we had previous Canadian work experience.
But the biggest problem was adapting to Canadian society, especially for my wife and daughter. With very little or no education, my wife had many difficulties in getting used to our new culture. Learning a new language, getting around by bus and looking for jobs were problematic for her.
My daughter even said she wanted to go back. In her first year she used to come back crying and disheartened from school. She had a hard time making friends and adapting to the system, especially at her age (she was just entering her teens).
Getting a job is one thing, but performing well at your job is also not that easy. Any kind of work here takes lots of commitment and effort. By the end of the day you are exhausted and then you must go home and cook and get ready for the next day.
Today I feel that even if I am not there tomorrow to support my family they can survive on their own. You don’t realize that you are improving yourself, as well as your lifestyle, each day. I am very happy that I could do something for my family as well as for the community.
We came to Canada with nothing but debt. But today we have a home, both our kids will be completing university within the next couple of years, and together my wife and I make a comfortable annual earning. With the little money we save, we can still support our parents and relatives back home, as well as some students in the camps.
The best part of all is that we don’t have to worry much about healthcare, the education of the kids, and our retirement.
We are all treated equally here. The feeling that you are no longer a stateless person gives you the confidence to be yourself. Today we are very thankful to Canadian society for giving us the opportunity to become one of them.
Reflections on Bhutan
On the outside things look good, almost too good to be true, but in my dreams my thoughts are always with my parents, my relatives, my neighbourhood, my community, my village, my country where I was born.
Even though we are not yet organized as a group globally, we are all in close communication regarding our situation. In Canada we are in a process of registering an organisation in the near future. We just concluded the draft copy of the constitution and are in the process finalising it.
Likewise in the US they are working towards a nationally registered organisation. Through the media, people getting together in meetings and with telecommunications we manage to stay in touch. I am confident that we will find a way to an amicable solution for the situation in the camps.