My “visionless” vision


Resettlement did not open my eyes but it did open ample opportunities

Although with no physical vision but with clear mental vision to correct my vision loss and to make a better living, I headed to Australia on January 30, 2009 through resettlement program.  

With uncertainty and limited information about new country, we left Timai Camp with the blessings of friends and relatives. Having spent three days in Kathmandu, we flew towards Singapore. After five hours transit, we boarded another plane for Perth, Western Australia. In Perth, we were received by two caseworkers—one for my family and the other for my parents. It was early mid-summer morning and when we landed upon Perth Airport the sun was already at its highest point. So, we were advised to   put on summer clothes. Although the environment seemed entirely different, we found people very much friendly and generous. 

Indra, left, with his wife Yashoda and daughter.
Indra, left, with his wife Yashoda and daughter.

For the first few weeks, we were busy meeting appointments, opening bank accounts, Medicare and Centrelink offices and Migrant Health Unit centre. On the third day of arrival in Australia, we received $200 each as Crisis Payment from Centrelink. We also received free accommodation for one month. As time passed, we got linked with different institutions and skill development centers such as, my brothers got admitted in an English school and my sister Tulasa (also visually impaired) and I got opportunity to start a new life at the Association for the Blind of Western Australia.

But, we encountered severe difficulties in trying to adjust parents in a completely new environment. I saw them getting depressed day-by-day. Instead of talking, they began to cry and started to express interest to be relocated to Cairns where a very small Bhutanese community was already in existence. I took my entire family to Cairns on March 8, 2009. There we rented two different houses and started living separately.  

Brothers and sister went to an English school, parents and my wife started English class at TAFE but I had to stay home idly. I tried to meet visually challenged (blind) friends for help but encountered even more challenges in accomplishing this goal. Migrant Settlement Services, the refugee agency provided me with a lady volunteer, Sue Taylor who helped me get linked up with Vision Australia, Guide dogs Queensland and the eye doctor. I received blindness services from those agencies and medical treatment from Dr. Andrew Field. He referred me to Princes Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane where my left corneal transplant was performed by Dr. Peter Beckingsale.

I received all medical treatment free of costs. After recovery, I was informed that there was no way of restoring vision in my eye. I returned to Cairns desperately and in agony. I could do nothing for the next three months because of eye watering and medication. By September 2009, I was taught to move around Cairns independently using a long white cane. 

On the 19th of the same month, we received our first baby girl. With the arrival of Joy, Government offered us a range of benefits such as: baby bonus, family tax benefits and higher rate of rental assistance. For, Yashoda (my wife) was already in receipt of Carer Pension to look after me and I was receiving Disability Support Pension-Blind from Centrelink.  

Indra carrying his lovely daughter during a trip to hindu temple.
Indra carrying his daughter during a trip to hindu temple.

After getting resettled, I had the interest to further my educational excellence in a very modern discipline. But, I decided to develop basic computer skills first and then study later. To do so, Cairns did not have the facility. In January this year, I went to Adelaide to see how things were working for visually challenged people. There I met many Bhutanese community members and friends who helped me meet eminent figures working in the field of blindness. It seemed to my mind that facilities were still inadequate for better future.  

On the second of March this year, I came back to Perth with my family. Since then, we are living in a rental property very close to public facility. We pay $280 a week for a two bedroom apartment. Here in Perth, I am receiving very good services from the blind association ranging from mobility training to 5000 dollars grant to buy software for computer and a mobile phone with KNFB reader. I am starting computer course at the blind association. I am able to travel around Perth city independently. At present, I am working for University of Western Australia Business School as an administration assistant. I go to and come back from work on my own changing two trains and a bus. I don’t have any specific problem to share but am very much thankful to The Commonwealth Government of Australia for resettling a vulnerable person like me and providing a range of benefits. When my wife is sick, I do shopping from Woolworths, Coles and IGA Supermarkets. I have a barcode scanner with which I can scan products and identify which to buy and which not.

Also, I have a Daisy player to read books recorded in CDs.  Life has certainly become easy and simple. We receive 1600 dollars every fortnight from the government to earn livelihood and I earn 500 dollars every fortnight from work. The government is stable and the support is not subject to decrease. Every year, as consumer price index increases, the government increases little bit in the benefits. Medical facility is free for all under the provision of Medicare Australia and medication can be purchased at the concession rate.

The only difficulty I have here is that I don’t find friends who were of great value to me. Also, I find no efforts taken for voluntary repatriation. If fortune favors, I love to see all the resettled Bhutanese around the world in the near future and go back to Bhutan, probably holding an Australian passport. Although my dream of correcting my eyesight by getting resettled in a third country is shattered but I am glad that it provided me ample opportunities to live a far better life. It might take a little while but I have a “vision” to pursue higher education here and work for the welfare of the society when possible.    

(The author of the piece can be directly communicated at: [email protected])



  1. Indra bhai: Your write up is a source of encouragement. Congratulations for your progress and determination. I second Vishnu, you are an example. Your success, more importantly sharing this with us, makes us feel that a start is always possible and never late. This gives a moral boost. Lots of strength to your family. Probably, your parents need more social contacts.

    Lakshmi Prasad Dhakal

  2. Indra Bhai,
    God bless you always. You are example not only to the Bhutanese but to the entire community around the world. Your story is emotional but has very powerful message of determination and full of encouragement to others who have the vision.

    Thank you for bringing up this story, The Australian Govt will be exceptionally happy with this peace of story from you. I will be sending this article to few senior officials in Canberra Bhai.

  3. Indra bhai,
    You have sent a big message to the community.You have proved to possess a third eye. The eye of wisdom, “vision” ”to pursue higher education here and work for the welfare of the society when possible”.
    What a great dream. What an inspiration to the uneducated and volnurable ones in the society. Such message with optimism shall contribute to avoid depression and hopelessness in the community. Keep it up.
    Durga Giri, Munich, Germany.

  4. I am bewildered to see such talent,courage and faith of a visually impaired person , when I went through the story of Indra Rizal above. It says that,Education is the third Eye of human beings. That is absolutely correct because although, Mr. Rizal is deprived of his two eyes but it is due to education he acquired,he has a self-sufficient vision to peep the whole world via knowledge and wisdom. Thus, I promptly encourage him to live a better life with an absolutely contented mind in the days to come. I wish him and his entire family for success in every step he attempts ahead.
    Bhima Baniya Gurung.

  5. Indra bhai,
    God bless you. Even though your eyes could not open to see this world, your level of intelligence is full of eyes. With your caliber you can conquer what you want to in your life. I saw you after almost 13 years…remember when you were in grade 9,I visited Triranta Sec School to meet my teachers. I had just appeared for SLC when you were in 9th Grade.
    Wish you best of luck in what ever you do……

  6. Indra Bhai,
    Thank you very much for your inspiring write up. I am confident that your story would be a great example and a source of inspiration to our community. I wish you all the best in every step that you take. Also,I wish to see such articles in the days ahead too. Have a great time.
    Bhagirath Khatiwada
    Concord, New Hampshire, USA.

  7. Dear Indra Bhai,
    Thanks for sharing your whereabouts which was a concern to all of us.
    It is better to live an enlightened and esteemed life without vision than disgraceful and pathetic life with eyesight. I know you are very determined and courageous person. You have a very caring and daring soul partner who added value to your life and still more that adds worth of livelihood is your sweet little daughter. Our congratulations and regards to all of you.
    And Indra, you already set an example to our society. You have become an established public figure in our community. Your perception is clear and day by day you are becoming savvy with the existing tools to make life easy.
    Your writing is precise that needs appreciation. Keep up writings.
    Thanks and take care.
    Best wishes.

  8. Indra Ji, I will go Bhutan with you but for now lets learn good culture, know rights and develop our skills and knowledge so we will practice these empowerment in Bhutan, our motherland.
    Thank you again for remanding all of us to go back our country “BHUTAN” one day with full support from all over the world.

  9. Indira bhai,
    You have told us the ground reality of your condition and its a moral lesson to all other Bhutanese folks.Struggle is our life which can bring good result.Hope your dream of going back to Bhutan may come true in due time.Thanks for sharing all your tale & life style.Pursue for your higher education ,that will bring all good things in your life…………Bye.

  10. Indra Bai, good to know that you are resettled in Australia. I’m very much impressed seeing your writeup. Bai,I’m very much confident that your inner eye will lead you to the zenith of success.
    Bai, you might have not forgotten me, I helped you in writting your grade 9 final exam in Tri-ratna secondary school. So,Bai, wish you a best of luck and say my hello to your family.
    D.B. Diyali
    Washing Seattle.

  11. Indra Daju,
    My warm greetings to you and your family here from Adelaide. You have an excellent write up. Equally is your story so praiseworthy to message all of us that life is what we ought to live with confidence, conviction, encouragement, inspiration, strength and determination. Awe-inspiring! You taught us a grave lesson; internal vision has something more to do than our external vision and senses. And yes, I still remember the short chat we had here in February, as you have come along with Mohan and Lok then.
    Dom N. Kafley- Adelaide.

  12. Mr. Indra,
    I read your inspiring write-up and would like to express my best wishes for your pursuance for furthering your competence in computer education and to visit Bhutan with Australian passport at the earliest. Keep it up!

  13. Out in the open sea of greed, pride and vices-all you can think of, sometime before I chanced to hear the story of a daring woman wed-locking her bosom blooming future with a socially non-suggested member of opposite sex. A google alert enlightened me of their bold presence near the Great Australian Desert. On top of that cuddling a baby daughter the father announces his vision for an exemplary journey into the future.

    My grand kudos to that couple and my love and affection to my sibbling may not parallel theirs to her.

    Out of the blue from Ohio, Cincinnati
    Bhim Bastola