Mona Rath

Saddest part of my life

Despite the many years of service I had given in the refugee camps a number of my community members attempted to kill me on Aug 12th 2008 for advocating the resettlement process.  They destroyed my hut and all our property and threatened to kill my innocent members of my family. Fortunately, some people called the police and they saved my life.  The police took me to the Dharan BP Memorial Hospital where I spent a couple of weeks.

I recovered from the attack but was not secure.  My family and I moved from the camps and rented a house in a local town where we had to buy everything including clothes, utensils, furniture etc.  I had to be born again there. It was the saddest part of all our lives. Agencies helped us as much as they could and many friends lent me money. I spent those days in fear, depression, counting the days in the hope that we would be resettled as soon as possible.

Ray of hope for better life

There are 10 members in my family: me, my wife, my two little sons of 4 and 2, my three sisters, a younger brother and my parents in their early sixties, The IOM divided into three different families and after 10 painful months, on May 8, 2008, my two little sisters and a brother left for United States.

It was a mixture of delight and pain. Delight, because of the hope that they would earn money in the US and be able to assist us in Nepal. Pain, because they were the youngest three, the first to leave and we were separating the family with no certainty that we would be re-united.

Within a month and half, on June 14, 2008, myself, my wife and my sons set out on our journey to the States.  We left behind my dear old parents and my other sister but they joined us 2 weeks later.

Luckily we were placed in the same city and in same place. It gave us hope for a new secure life together and we have to thank IOM/UNHCR/US government for this opportunity.

My background

I am a second child out of six, to father Narapati Khanal and mother Mon Maya Khanal and was born on January 7, 1977, in one of the remote villages in Southern Bhutan. I was raised in a self-sufficient family.  My parents always did their best to build a future for us despite their illiteracy. They sent me to the school closest to my village but I still had to walk for more than an hour each way to get there.

After the Human Rights movement of 1990, the Royal government of Bhutan closed down the schools. My parents and my uncle tried to admit me in different schools in other parts of the country, but to no avail as I was unable to produce a No Objections Certificate from district police. This was an absolute requirement for school admission but only for students of Nepali origin. The district police denied issuing one to me stating that my parents supported the human rights movement.

The main reason my family was evicted was because of the categorization of Lhotsampas (Southern Bhutanese) into seven groups in 1991 census. The government categorized my father as a genuine Bhutanese (F1) and my mother was grouped into F4 – as a non-Bhutanese married to Bhutanese man. We, the children were then considered non-citizens. According to the government policy, only my father could stay in Bhutan and the rest of our family members had to leave Bhutan at the earliest.

In July, 1992 we left Bhutan leaving all our belongings including our identity. In the camps I felt that although I lost home, I had found a refuge but we expected to be able to get back home soon.  We resided in Beldangi II Extension refugee camp and there I started my schooling again. Facing many challenges, I continued my education hoping to see favorable changes in near future. The months and years passed by, without any positive moves to enable us to go back home despite the efforts made by our seniors and leaders. The facilities given by the UNHCR were not adequate for day to day living so Istarted making some money, tutoring students in a village close by when I was in my 8th grade. 

I was a student in grade 9 when I started my volunteer service as an adult education teacher in a Community Development Center. I then worked for the community continuously in different positions: school teacher, health committee chief, gender focal point assistant, deputy camp Secretary, camp secretary, and in 2007-2008 I also worked as a one of the directors of the Bhutanese Refugee Durable Solution Coordination Committee.

I carried on my study while upholding my family and community responsibilities. I completed my Bachelors Degree from Tribhuvan University, in Nepal. I feel that I have been able to build a great confidence for life by achievements in higher education and in the community.

My current situation

I started working in Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport along with my three sisters in September 2008.  After few months, when my wife got a full time job, I quit to work (volunteer) as a President of Bhutanese Community in Arizona (BCA). The goal of the organization is to work as a bridge between Government/Agencies and my people and to address the needs of the Bhutanese refugee community for a better future in this new land. I am also working closely with Pan Asian/Asian Chamber of Commerce and from October 2009, I have also begun working at a full time job.

Now, I live jointly with my parents, three sisters, my older sister and her family of seven members and my wife and two little kids. Both the kids are attending school. Altogether, we are 17 members in a house with 5 bedrooms and 2 kitchens. We together pay around $2000/month. I am happy with my life.

I thank my parents who gave me birth in this beautiful world. I thank my sisters and brother who always supported me and the family whole heartedly. There are people in my life who have touched me, inspired me, wished well of me, helped me in real time, who were always with me in my pleasure and pain. They are Father Verky, Lok Nath Khatiwada, D.B adhikari, Bhanu Adhikari, my uncle Chudamoni Dhimal. I have my gratitude to all of them and all my relatives, friends and teachers. Thanks to the UNHCR who gave me, my family and all our people all the basics of life. Thanks to the international Agencies for giving me and my family new and secured life.