A Mother’s Long Journey

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It is certain that you would feel astonished if you luckily happen to meet her and other family members in a small-congested room in Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu – this is because her family is eagerly waiting for January 7, the scheduled-date to depart for Norway and begin a new life. A Bhutanese woman along with five other 6-16 years old finally took bold decision to opt Third Country Resettlement (TCR) offer despite being single to lead the whole family.

Suk Maya Rai, 32 of Beldangi-II, Sector I/3-22 succeeded after six years of her necessary processing for TCR. Suk Maya weepingly laments that she was compelled to apply it after her 8-year-old daughter was raped. Not much assumed about the possible struggling life in a new country, Suk Maya is confident that her five children will have bright future after the Norwegian government educates them as assured by the UNHCR before taking-off the flight from Nepal.

Whether or not the assurances given by the authorities would thump on a stand of reality, she is optimistic that the Norwegian government would look after her family completely for five years. Suk Maya on one hand is happy with her decision; however, she immediately pours flashes of ‘sadness’ when evoking her days in Bhutan.
She talked to us before her departure to Norway. She has recently flew.

Why you decided to opt the offer of TCR?
As my daughter was rapped, I wandered here and there in search of authorities that can extend support for her medical treatment. Later, when CVICT Nepal diagnosed that my daughter had sustained severe injury she was also getting mentally disturbed. During her treatment period, while in Kathmandu after seven days of her rape case, two sisters (officials) from the UNHCR extended their full cooperation and support.
After my arrival in camps, UNHCR officials inquired me if I was still facing any problems. I informed them that the community began neglecting our family. The UNHCR repeatedly made inquiries if I was interested to opt for the solution that it would furnish.

As my husband had a second marriage, I thought the way UNHCR was supporting me would lead my children’s future to a brighter atmosphere. So, I was then informed of the fact that the Norwegian government was willing to accept my vulnerable family.

Who decided that you are to go to Norway?
It is not me but the UNHCR that decided it.

How did you feel when you left your temporary hut in camps?
I really felt sad to leave my dwelling place, though temporarily habituated, because when we left Bhutan I had experienced same thing and now I am supposed to leave Nepal. I was really finding difficult to tolerate it as I left my community without any information due to fear of being intimidated.

Are you given cultural orientation classes?
Not much. I am just informed that our life would go easier as like that of Norwegian people after sometime. They also told me that I will have to struggle a bit to fit the Norwegian way.

Will you have to pay air ticket charge?
As I fall under most vulnerable group, I will not have to pay such charges. The UNHCR has informed me that the Norwegian government will bear my expenses.

Any thing at last?
Many people in camps are intimidated by third parties not to openly advocate or opt for TCR. This is a sad part. Let individuals decide their future. Bhutan is not going to start repatriation process soon. More or less, we experienced the fact that democracy is hard to be achieved unless we do something. It is not that those opting TCR will forget Bhutan.

It may not be an easier outlet, as Suk Maya thinks, to get fit in a western society at once because she lacks cultural and other necessary orientation classes. The confidence that Suk Maya still posses to see bright future of her five children by pursuing them higher and better education is yet another part to offer her with a ‘Bhutanese-cultured-salute’ though he studied up to grade III.

“There is no doubt that I will immediately return to Bhutan when dignified repatriation process starts”, says Suk Maya with tears rolling down her cheeks.

Suk Maya’s undefined journey from the ‘Last Shangri-la’ to Nepal, and then to Norway comes to an ending point only when she, as wishes, gets back to Mechaytar under Samtse district in Bhutan one day.

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A father, husband, public speaker, and a freelancer, Mr. Mishra returns to this news portal as the Executive Editor after he had served in the same capacity for nearly three years in the recent past. Born in Dagana, Bhutan and raised in the refugee camp in Nepal, Mishra’s entry into journalism began as early as 2002, and he has been volunteering in the area since then.

Mr. Mishra worked as a special correspondent for The Bhutan Reporter (TBR) Monthly for a few years in the early-mid 2000s. Later, he became Editor at the same newspaper, and also served as the Chief Editor of TBR for two years. He is one of the founder members of Bhutan News Service (BNS), where he started serving as Editor (2006-2009), and later Chief Editor (2009-2011).

Mr. Mishra also served as one of the main hosts of the radio program, Saranarthi Sarokar (translates to ‘Refugee Concern’ in English) in one of the local FM stations in Kathmandu, Nepal from 2007 through 2009. As a host of the program, he interviewed dozens of high-profile Nepalese and Bhutanese politicians, academicians, social and community leaders, including foreign diplomats then based in Kathmandu and Jhapa, Nepal.

Aside from his reporting work while in Kathmandu, Mr. Mishra also got involved in other philanthropic work, and helped needy refugees. Mr. Mishra led two donation campaigns through the lobby in Kathmandu among fellow Bhutanese refugees and supported fire victims in the refugee camp in the eastern part of the country. Mr. Mishra also directly assisted dozens of sick patients with various illnesses from the refugee camps in Jhapa to get their appropriate treatment in Kathmandu-based hospitals at a discounted rate and/or free of cost.

Mr. Mishra has appeared in various national, regional and international publications including the Wall Street Journal, Aljazeera America, Explore Parts Unknown, Global Post, Himal Southasian, among dozens of other media outlets with articles aimed at advocating the Bhutanese refugee issue. The New York Times, BBC, Guardian Weekly, among many others have featured Mishra’s work. Mr. Mishra has also written articles extensively reflecting the state of ‘freedom of speech & expression in Bhutan.’

Mr. Mishra is also the author of a handbook called Becoming a Journalist in Exile.

Mr. Mishra is the recipient of two awards—one by the Bhutan Press Union (2006), and the other by the Organization of Bhutanese Communities in America (2011) for his contributions in the related field. Founder President of the Bhutan Chapter of the Third World Media Network (2006-2012), Mishra has also represented Bhutan in various regional and national-level trainings and seminars on media freedom while during his stay in Nepal.

Mr. Mishra holds his first Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Purbanchal University in Nepal, and the second Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.