Niroj Tolange, India- Raju Ramdam was watching his birthplace from across the Bhutan Gelephu border.
Living in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, he had arrived at the border of Bhutan in his native place with the aim of meeting his relatives. “It’s been 15 years since I planted my native land, I want to come back with the soil of my birth place, but I can’t do what I have to do,” he said emotionally. This was his only excuse. The truth is that even though he could not return to his native land, he wanted to understand. Pain was reflected in his eyes.
Even when my country came to Bhutan, I had to come with fear, the same house where I played and rode bicycles in my childhood became deserted. He came home after a long time and said sadly. However, the place where I was born is the place where I traveled. Because I was born in that place, it will always remain in the corner of my mind. Now I wanted to touch the soil of the place where I was born. But luckily, when I reach there and see with my eyes and cannot touch the soil, my heart is sad.
After Jigme Singh became the king of Bhutan in 1986, Nepali-speaking Lhotsampa’s downfall began. He did not consider Nepali speakers as his citizens. The state oppressed the Lhotsampa living in southern Bhutan. At that time, Raju Ramdam’s family was forced to flee from Gelephu. After that, the process of running away from home did not stop. Overnight, the persecution of Nepali speakers started to increase.
It was raining on the night of July 22, 1992. There were six people in my family, two brothers, two sisters, mother and father. He reached the border of India after walking through the forest for three consecutive days. He sat behind the truck from the border. The same truck dropped them at Gol Dhap in Jhapa.
Our family was drenched in heavy rain and hung on a long trolley truck for a difficult journey to Nepal. As a child, I didn’t know anything at that time, I had no choice but to follow my parents. I knew that we were leaving our country.
Bhutanese refugee camp in Jhapa.
An 8-year-old boy from the eastern city of Nepal, Jhapa Damak. Another name associated with the same town is Beldangi Refugee Camp. He lived as a refugee for 20 years wearing bamboo mats, thatched huts and plastic.
The life of the refugees was very difficult. The point of view of a refugee is different. When living in Jhapa’s Goldhap camp, it was very difficult to blend in with the new society of that time. There was no place for us to stay. There was no destination to go to.” He said, ‘I look for my country in my dreams, I see it in my dreams and when I reach it, I sing the national anthem while waving the flag. For those who don’t have a country, sometimes the dream is sweet. When I wake up, I remember my native land. It hurts badly, with the pain of being uncivilized.” His throat was blocked.
The atmosphere calmed down for a moment, he said, “In Bhutan, I must have studied 2nd grade, but after coming to Nepal, I started studying from 3rd grade.” Life as a refugee in Nepal was a painful life.
We used to look at other organizations there, we were not allowed to go where we wanted. My youth and youth passed in Nepal. We were labeled refugees. At that time, someone else had to give us food. If he didn’t get it, he had to go to bed hungry. He still remembers cooking the rice given to the refugees in the camp by the Nepalese government and eating it with water. When it rained and the wind blew, the camp itself was blown away. He saw the hardships of his relatives who were living a painful life as refugees. He saw the suffering of his relatives who were suffering from hunger and disease. Even now, he is shocked when he remembers the pain he experienced when he spent almost 20 years in the refugee camp in Nepal.
Travel from Bhutan to America via Nepal
The government announced plans to resettle Bhutanese refugees from Nepal to third countries. Refugees would be allowed to go to European countries including America, Britain, Australia, Canada. Raju Ramdam’s family left for America on July 7, 2013. About fifty thousand refugees had reached America at that time.
“We, who spent 20 years as refugees in Nepal, never prayed to God for America. We have always prayed to God for Bhutan and its government. There are still victims like us in Bhutan. At that time, the situation in the country was not good, we ran away. But now the point of view is different, but the change and transformation of the country is a bigger thing than leaving the country. He said.
We are US citizens now but our origin is Bhutan. Even though we are outside the country, we want to serve our motherland, please give us a chance to serve.’ Appealing to the Bhutanese government, he said, ‘We are separated from Bhutan by borders, but we are not separated from our hearts.’