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Towards building a community

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Prolonged Statelessness: A Slow Poison

Keeping citizenship and census pending for generations has been deeply ingrained in the system. Civil liberty is not guaranteed by the fledgling democracy of the Kingdom. After one generation of stateless people is bred, it multiplies, and that gives the authority of Home Ministry reason to criminalize these generations of being illegal immigrants who entered through porous border.

At the start of his resettlement process back in 2008, Jai Subedi would not have apprehended that his young brain will have to shoulder so many responsibilities. However, after his arrival in Syracuse, NY two years ago, he has hardly taken rest—be it at his office or at home-or taken any vacation.

“I originally hail from Chirang, Bhutan,” adds Jai that the wave of 90’s political movement could not spare his family, and he ended-up taking shelter in Sanischare refugee camp in eastern Nepal.

The refugee life was definitely not what Jai and other youngsters would have dreamt of. However, with no other options, every refugee had to succumb to the hardships of the refugee life, and Jai was not the exception.

Subedi in his office.

“When I travel through the memory lane and go back to what my life was like in the refugee camp, I feel like crying,” says Jai, who takes a deep breath and adds that the life in the USA has much to offer for him.

Jai had certainly not thought that he would work as a Case Manager at his own receiving agency Interfaith Works.

“I had heard about the economic recession in the USA, and I had no idea what I would be doing after my resettlement,” recalls Jai, who heartily took a job at the Subway two months after his landing in Syracuse. Working as a part timer at the Subway and also helping with the translation works at Interfaith Works, his “ready to do anything” nature helped him learn a lot about the American lifestyle and system of working. Further, getting involved in different community events, social gatherings, and assisting people for grocery works provided ample opportunities to interact with different people.

“I would speak some English before I came here, and that helped me a lot. However, I had to work a lot on my communication skills. The natives did not easily understand even my writing. But, I worked hard to overcome it,” giggles Jai.

The story is different for Jai now. He holds different positions at different places, which he respects more than anything.

“I have been entrusted with different responsibilities lately. The greatest thing I have been able to do on top of all has been able to help the community members up to some extent,” adds Jai. Interestingly, Jai is also the executive member of the Bhutanese Community of Syracuse (BCS).

In comparison to other communities, BCS is a new one. However, there are over 2000 people by now. So far, BCS has been successful in helping people get settled in this new land. In this respect, Jai considers himself very fortunate to be a part of this community, which has so many experienced and highly educated people.

“Interestingly, I was nearly resettled in Texas. But it was my luck that my relatives had been already staying here for a year. They did a lot for me to get here. I have no words to Hari Bangale, who has been the main person to help me get here. Had I been resettled else where, I would not have been able to do what I have been doing for my community.”

With the responsibility of Case Manager, Jai has been able to assist the refugees apply for Food Stamp, bring them to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain their state ID card, assist them apply for Social Security Card, and even bring them to the doctor’s appointment. Along with shouldering such major responsibilities, Jai is often seen among the community members, after the work hours reading and explaining the whole bunch of letters or utility bills. Equally, he is seen among the youngsters teaching and playing with them the games and sports, which he considers to be in his blood.

“I was a games’ captain in my school days. I would play soccer and volleyball. We participated at the inter communities soccer game recently. I definitely want to play myself and also teach the youngsters what I have learnt so far,” he adds.

There are even more works that Jai Subedi has put his hands at, and successfully carried  out those.

Subedi helping community folks do their paperworks.

Syracuse north side has been very insecure place for the immigrants. Be it the refugees or any other immigrants, they are the target group for intimidation. However, the Police personnel, the locals and refugee community leaders have partnered in recent years with a sole purpose of turning the north side “crime free”.

“I have always envisioned the north side to be a secure place for the refugees and other communities”, says Jai who has been shouldering the responsibility of the President of the Butternut Community Police Center (BCPC), a community based organization since May 2011. BCPC has been established to carry out different community based programs.

The next thing that Jai has been engaged at is raising issues and concerns of the neighborhood communities and discussing possible solution to those problems with the Mayor of Syracuse.

“My current position of Citizens Cabinet for city of Syracuse has further provided me opportunity to bring to the Mayor’s notice different ongoing issues of the fellow community members,” adds Jai that eventually the goal is only addressing the people’s problems. Besides, Jai has to explore and bring to the mayor’s table different issues of the entire city so that those issues could be resolved on the timely fashion.

The BCS and the people of Syracuse as well seem to have a great expectation from the young and aspiring community leaders like Jai. Be it educating the old folks on various issues or conducting the English as a Second Language classes for the struggling youths and elderly ones, organizing the community events or trying to address local issues-there always lies a hope on these young leaders. And Jai is present everywhere.

“I see him as a potential candidate for future mayor of Syracuse,” says a friend to Jai, Rohit Dhakal, who adds that a good work should be always appreciated. No journey is an easy one; if you are sincere and dedicated, and work honestly, you will hit the target. His hopes do not seem high—no promises to no body. But still, he wants to work to build the strong community where the members can be able to identify themselves down the road as Bhutanese-American, and that the youngsters would be able to understand, preserve and promote culture, language and identity.”

Gautam is Editor of Bhutan News Service.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Being a social worker we should not have the feeling of I, ME & Mine. we should also learn to give the credits to others. Hope you will, take it as feedback.

  2. BNS,
    This absolutely is not a fair role play.
    Although I appreciate Subedi’s community service, but it is just one of the very general things that many Bhutanese have been volunteerily shouldering. Further more, all those who work as case managers do these bunch of things either as a part of their job or as a community volunteer. So, is it only Mr. Subedi in Syracuse, NY who renders services for the community. As far as my knowledge stays right, I believe Hari Bangaley has been serving the community in Syracuse as a case manager/community volunteer for the time longer than anyone else. One more thing, I think the writer himself hails from the same community, so are you not involved in the community services? Or are you waiting for Mr. Subedi to write another article on your bio?
    Here, I strongly want to raise my voice that as a writer, and on top of that as the editor of BNS, you should not mono-iconize anyone who does not meet the requisite portfolio to be biographically praised in a media column. Well, I dont mean to say that you dont have that right, but every single reader of this article can smell your perhaps family, peer or emotional biasness. Please get this understood. Please also tell me which one of these is the reason that drove you to get to this article:
    1. Do you have any contractual obligation on publishing this article with Mr. Subedi?
    2. Is it just because you guys are the best friends or kins or so on?
    3. Is it because you did not get an article to be published by your deadline in that column?
    Here, very sincerely, my intention is not to hurt Mr. Subedi (Jai Ji, once again I appreciate your work and keep up the zeal and I apologize if it hurts you), neither do I want to demoralize the article’s content, nor do I want to deface the writer’s image (Kazi, I have read your good articles in some papers including Kathmandu Post, if I remember right). But I only mean to say that such self-centered articles make the media weightless.
    See, there are many people who are doing exactly what Subedi is doing. How will you deal with the situation if a friend of each of these person starts writing an article advocating the personal stuff to iconize some one by force?
    Look behind, there are many untold stories that deserved to be said to the world, but they are forgotten. Please scratch out, dig out, there are a lot to be written that merits the attention and gives satisfaction to the readers!
    Please, let us all be honest, because the people who click this site are more than what you think, different than what you imagine. Its not just the Bhutanese and its not just a comment shooter like me! There can be many silent anylisists holding a scale of judgement, blindfolded, just like the statue of liberty!
    I am shooting this comment for a reason! I would love to hear from the writer!
    Best of Luck,
    Shankar

  3. Jai is my nephew. I am proud of his hard work. I know he is hard working,dedicated and sincere. He has had a lot of experience of living in very poor situation and helping others in similar conditions.I always encourage him to keep up his actions.I would like to wish him a good luck and great success for helping his community.

  4. Friend Kaji,
    Your article is well- fabricated and appreciable up to some extent. Its our great responsibility to guide our illiterate members of our community and I feel its normal and humane to be a case manager voluntarily or on paid basis. One of the commentater – “Shanker” is also not on the wrong way. He clearly says even there are others who is doing great in the community. So it would be more fair if the writer would include all the social workers names in the article and be grateful for all of them for their effort in helping the community, as no one can work alone without being helped by others directly or indirectly. Its also mentioned that its mono-iconized without meeting the requisite portfolio to be biografically praised in media coloum. Bringing into media is so not so great if you are already doing great in your community and partiality always creates conflicts and contradictions. Everything has to be thought and analysed properly before bringing in the social blog.

    Thanks
    USA.

  5. I went through the write up two times before I decided to write a comment on it. I did find everything ok. If someone has been trying to do some work for the benefit of the community, it is a good thing. It is not that he needs to have a very good experience should he wish to work for the community set up. As told above, besides his work as a case manager, Jai has been assisting people with some other works. Good job.

    Everyone knows, BNS has been truly disseminating the news or any thing as it is. We trust those who have been associated with BNS. If the writer has tried to bring out any success story, it is to be appreciated.

    There may be numerous such works going on in other states as well. We would love to hear about those as well. I am hopeful that BNS will write about another person or community as it appears to be.

    This seems to be a good start. Keep writing.

  6. I am a regular reader of BNS for the last few years. I have seen that it brings out news, features, interviews, and lately the untold stories of different Bhutanese personalities. I just love to read those articles.

    Now, with this article on hand, I feel the editor has tried to bring out how the life after resettlement has been going on, and what different people have been doing to keep the community intact. It has been implied that the person talked about in this article has been trying to work for the community, it is a good thing, I believe.

    Some of the people who wrote comments above seem to be unhappy with the writer for writing a personal story. It is ok, my friends. A name mentioned above who has been volunteering for so many years (as told by Shanker) may be he next person the writer has in his mind. On top of it, should not we give a chance or bring in front the new and young ones? Purely my thought.

    Also, as far as I know, those who wish to write the article on any topic can do so and get it published if it is worth publishing, no?

    Hey BNS team, I, being your regular follower, let me tell you that by bringing out this story, you have not done anything not worth doing. You guys have been doing great job and I have been personally relying on the news provided by BNS for years.

    I would like to tell the writer that you need to write more about those young and emerging leaders. If possible, find out from other states also.

    Bhutange Jetho
    Tucson, AZ

  7. I read the piece thrice and did not find any points negative-feeling-seeking/driven; perhaps this is an interesting piece to me. Kudos to the author and Mr. Subedi, who, according to the piece, is dedicated towards ‘social service’. Let’s not make this an issue of “negative” debate. Some friends here debated that the author did not mention about other case workers, who works in various resettlement agency. I do not smell this logic a valid one.

    Writers/authors/freelancers/journalists cannot write everything in a limited-word piece. I considered this piece an step towards encouraging other social service providers to continue with their good works. Many of us (readers) of BNS hailed its concept of documenting “untold stories”. Almost every Bhutanese families have such stories. No one, among us, dared to speak out opposition words when we read a single man/woman’s untold story; I did read no where where we readers have asked the authors to write the “untold stories” of all people in a single piece.

    Our struggle for justice has left its track– we are divided, polarized in thoughts now. Hopes, however, as I see, still exist with what these budding media like the BNS, APFA, etc etc are doing. Let’s not discourage good people, rather lets encourage them from positive aspect. I can’t wait to read more such encouraging pieces from Mr. Gautam.

    Good luck BNS * * *

  8. Well, Jai’s help to Bhutanese community is indespensible I guess but appreciation of his doing is also equally important .I feel him a gentle guy ,hard working and sincere .We must feel him an asset to the Bhutanese Community as a whole in the forth coming days….. Great job ! keep it up .

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