Last summer, the Odari and the Neopaney clans were just two of the several hundred Bhutan refugees resettled across the United States. Since arriving in New York in June 2008 with a suitcase full of old clothes, a few fraying photos and barely any money, the two families have settled into their new home country. The families were neighbours in the refugee camps in Jhapa back in Nepal. Here, they are in-laws.
Ganga Neopaney, the oldest of the five Neopaney children, and Deepak Odari, one of the two Odari boys, were dating secretly in the refugee camp in Dhaka. Ganga insisted that if Deepak wanted to marry her his family would have to officially ask for her hand in marriage. They did. Soon enough the young immigrant couple applied for a wedding permit and discovered life and independence, plus a renewed sense of belonging for the first time in their lives.
Eighteen years after being thrown out of their homeland, most of the 120,000 Bhutani refugees are being resettled in third countries. The United States is taking 80,000, while Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada are taking others. Eight thousand have now arrivedd in the US where they are helped with everything from finding apartments and jobs to applying for social welfare.
Kashish Das Shrestha will be presenting these and other photographer at an interactive exhibition at photo.circle on 14 March, 10AM at The Bakery Caf?, Sundhara.
ALL PICS: KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA