Guest author: Tulasi Ghimirey
Ryan observes his dad, Tulasi, wearing
Bhutanese garb to honor his homeland flag
Bhutanese garb to honor his homeland flag
Editor's note | In 2000, Tulasi Ghimirey arrived in the U.S. from United Nations-run refugee camps in southeastern Nepal. Last month,Tulasi's parents joined him in an emotional reunion (photos here) at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. Thousands in his community are still living in the camps' squalid makeshift huts of bamboo and plastic. These homeless, stateless victims who have been enduring years of struggle and poverty were exiled from Bhutan, their homeland, in an ethnic cleansing, in 1991.
Dear friends, elders, brothers and sisters, and community leaders,
We traveled several thousand miles from Bhutan to Nepal and than to America and came to this wonderful land where we can call home. In 2003 there were four Bhutanese immigrants in Atlanta. Today we are 6, 000. Thank you to all the Ambassadors who reached to the Bhutanese people in the refugee camps in Nepal and today we are here because of you.
This land is so wonderful and citizens as well. Anywhere in the world if there a disaster both man made or natural American Citizens will reach there to help and rescue the needy. I salute all the people on the uniform for making us safe. Here, we can work, wear the clothes of our own choices, read, write, and speak freely. We can also hire an Attorney if we need. If you go to bed there is 100% chances that we will see the next day.
Generally, Bhutanese are doing well. Many have changed their job for better prospects. Many families have a car. Everyday they are looking for the better opportunity. No one is homeless yet.
We have enjoyed such a warm welcome and positive response. I am thankful for everyone who has taken time to say hello or meet with me and bring your gifts and talents to our community. As I celebrate the holiday with my family, I remember faces and names of all the volunteers, some as little as six and seven yrs old. A little girl collected her lunch money and bought a pair of sleeper for a Refugee child. Teamwork can be summed up in five short words: "We believe in each other."
Thank you for embracing us at the time of economic downfall. We saved our families from eviction list from the apartment because of you. You stepped in to help with your expertise running the kudzu basket project where many folks made some cash by selling the baskets made out of vine. You helped set up tutoring, and collecting and distributing clothes, household items, calculators, and study guides. Training were given in basket weaving, driving and preparation for the learner permit test, and working in food industry and construction. After people got training in grass cutting and edging, they made money to help pay their rent.
I am thankful to all Bhutanese friends who go to work daily with smiles on their faces, realizing that the work that they do makes our community and the world a better place. Work is worship. Our goal is to keep away from FOOD STAMP.
Thanks to all who introduced us to other communities. Today we are known in Jewish, Indian, Burmese, Spanish, Jamaican, and Nepalese communities. Still, Bhutanese is a new word for many.
Today I have several hundreds of people to take care of me in case of any disaster in my life. When my niece died at Gwinnett hospital, the staff was shocked to see the numbers of visitors who came before she died. These visitors were from Bhutan, India, America —Black and White. She was new in Atlanta, and many visited because they knew me. Even the staff asked me whether I am a political leader.
After I was evicted from Bhutan, I discovered that the most powerful tool we carry is the power of love and kindness. Lets continue to keep our culture and tradition and treat our guests as dear mother.
I wish I can download all the pictures from my heart or the retina of my eyes.
Lets glorify our new motherland by singing this song.
God bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her
And guide her
Through the night with a light
From the mountains, to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home (2x).
- July Fourth picnic with Atlanta's new Bhutanese neighbors (includes video)
- Tulasi Ghimirey's Thanksgiving letter (2009)
Bhutan refugee finds Shangri-La in Atlanta