From Bhutan to Georgia - PK's Story

We at HIAS Pennsylvania are proud to share the story of one of our staff members, Parangkush Subedi for this issue of Voices. PK, as he's commonly known as in the office, has been with us for over a year as our Refugee Health Coordinator and Case Manager, but the story of how he got here is worth a read:

I am originally from Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between India and China. Between 1990- 93, my families along with large number of Nepali speaking Bhutanese (Lotshampas) were evicted out from the country by the then Royal Government of Bhutan under the ploy of the “One Nation, One People" policy. Most of the village's prominent people such as community leaders, school teachers, religious priests and the business men were arrested, tortured and imprisoned. They were then coerced to sign the so-called Volunteer Migration Form before they were forcefully sent to the exile caravan. My parents were some of them.  Our houses were destroyed, and the names of the places where we belonged, were changed to eradicate our roots, history and identity in Bhutan. The country were my parents and great grandparents lived and had toiled hard for socio-economic development for over 100 years made us stateless, due to  Bhutan’s ethnic cleansing policy.

My family lived for 17 years in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) managed refugee camps in eastern Nepal. The houses were built out of bamboos with plastic sheet roof and put so close to each other that privacy, sanitation and hygiene were all greatly compromised. The weather fluctuated from extreme hot in the summer to extreme cold in the winter. Heavy rainfall, and strong, pungent, dusty gusts of wind in the drought seasons were part of our regular refugee life. There was no electricity or fans, let alone air conditioning or computers. Kerosene lamps were used for reading, and stoves ran on charcoal, filling the house with smoke. Basic healthcare facilities were provided by the UNHCR, but anyone needing special care such as cancer treatment, OB/Gyn, HIV/AIDS, or a pediatrician, had to rely on the clinic’s Health Assistant. Malnutrition was the major concern in the camps, and though the World Food Program was in charge of supplying rations for the refugees, it was widely believed that the people actually in charge of bringing in the food did not care about the quality. Skirmishes often broke out among refugees and gang members, and anyone wishing to go outside had to get permission from the government authority to leave.

I came to the United States in July 2008 as a refugee under refugee resettlement program in Clarkston, Georgia. I moved to Philadelphia in 2011 due to my current job as a Refugee Health Coordinator at HIAS Pennsylvania. I was granted permanent residency status in 2009 along with my family members.

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