The first batch of Bhutanese refugees resettled in the Netherlands marked their second anniversary of successful life in their new home amidst a great fanfare on Feb 16 at a local church hall in a town of Ijlst, Friesland.
The celebration was organised to mark the first entry of 33 invited exiled Bhutanese from different six families into the Dutch soil in 2009. Of this, five families were resettled in Friesland Province while the next had received a house elsewhere due to medical reason.
The event managed by Nawaraj Gazmere, Prahlad Chhetri, Arjun Chhetri, Birkha Bahadur Majhi and Mon Bahadur Gazmere was financially supported by Littenseradiel and Southwest Friesland Municipality, Dutch Organization for Refugees and Nepal Development Academy, among others.
Senior Bhutanese Chakra Bahadur Gazmere delivered inaugural speech in Dutch language. He even spoke about his new life in the Netherlands during the function moderated by Prahlad Chhetri.
Around 150 local Dutch people were also present during the event that featured various cultural programs in Bhutanese, Nepali and Dutch. The main highlight of the event was a dance in Dutch song by four-year-old Prajita Karki.
Speaking on the occasion, Johanneke Liemburg, Mayor of Littenseradiel Municipality congratulated the resettled Bhutanese for successfully completing the first two years in the Netherlands.
“We need you all for our nation building more than you need us,” She said. She also informed the audience how the Bhutanese families were able to complete their integration course to obtain their diplomas.
Meanwhile, another speaker Tinneke Veldman appreciated enthusiasm of the resettled Bhutanese to learn the Dutch language, considered to be one of the most difficult languages for new learners.
Senior Bhutanese Ram Bahadur Karki Chhetri also congratulated his fellow-countrymen on the occasion.
Speaking on behalf of the Bhutanese Community in the Netherlands (BCN), Karki urged all Bhutanese citizens there to explain crux of the long-standing Bhutanese refugee issue to Dutch people in all such occasions.
Likewise, Durga Prasad Mainali spoke on various opportunities and difficulties of being new immigrants. He also thanked the local government and communities for their assistance to the fellow folks on behalf of the BCN.
The program ended with a group dance in Dzongkha song as Arjun Chhetri extended the vote of thanks.
Contributed by Ram Bahadur Karki Chhetri from the Haugue for BNS