Five months in Denmark

Published on Aug 16 2009 // Opinion

By Ramesh Gautam

It was not very easy for the Timsina family to make their trip towards Denmark leaving behind their octagenarian mother with family of the youngest brother in Nepal. When there was no choice, they got separated even from the eldest brother’s family moving to another country. It was indeed a hard deal for two segments of Timsina Family in the Internation Organisation for Migration transit camp in Maharajgunj, Katmandu.

Owing to the ill health of Tika Devi Timsina, the mother of two sons and a daughter, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees forwarded their case to Denmark, where a small number of Bhutanese citizens are expected to start a new living.

It was late evening of February 5 this year when this family reached Silkeborg, a town to the west at a distance of about four hours by train from the capital city, Copenhegen. They were exhausted with the first time long journey by air which they never expenrienced in the past. Though they feel that they are lcucky to be in one of the most developed countries of the world, but were initially much worried about how would the life be hereafter. Now, they feel safe in their apartment in a small town but are lonely; they have not even a single ethnic Nepali to gossip with.

There are many people coming to this country from around the globe as refugees and asylum seekers. They need to learn the language of this country. In fact, language is the only door opener whereever one goes. In all three European countries where the Bhutanese are being resettled, the authorities want to prevent the cultural and linguistic homogeneity which has an adverse effect in learning a new language, as well as getting transformed into a new but unknown culture. This is why they are kept apart from other families. The Timsina family is not an exception to this. They need to drive at least a distance of half an hour to meet the nearest Bhutanese family. However, they have a Bhutanese youth from Beldangi camp near by them, who reached before starting the resettlemtn process.

“We are very happy that we are socially safe and very hopeful towards our future even though we miss our friends, family members and relatives very much”, said Maheshwar Timsina, who arrived from Pathri, Sanischare camp.. When asked about the younger son, the youngest in the family, it was known that he was in summer tour, a normal phenomenon in the west to meet some friends and relatives in the other part of the country. It was a great feeling of satisfaction to see Mrs. Timsina sitting amusingly infront of the web camera, who was in bed for several months when she was in Nepal.

Danish government bears all the expenses of the treatment for us, Mrs. Timsina said. “We are yet to know many things but we haven’t paid anything for the treatment yet; everything is done by the Kommune, similar to municipality in Nepal, said Maheshwar, a literate in just Nepali from a middle class ethnic Nepali family from Dagana district in the South.

They seem much satisfied for this and feel secure. From suffocating situation to a much sophisticated technology driven world, these Timsinas have a short but amazing experience with how everything could be done by the machines.

All family members consisting of parents and two sons are attainding the language school three days a week. It is quite amusing that they meet several others who have similar untold stories of pains and miseries, division of identity and the alike of worth-sharing.
Poverty, civil war, ethnic cleansing, racial discriminations and many more have been the common fate of people around the world today and these Bhutanese citizens are also aware of these causes. This has also helped them and many others to forget about the horrors of the past, grab the present circumstance and think constructively about the future.

All the expenses for language classes are borne by the kommune and three of them get 5000 Danish Kroner, equivalent to 955 US dollars each while the youngest gets 2500 Kroner as cash assistance on monthly for their living. According to them, the amount granted to them is sufficient for everything.

The family is waiting for their daughter’s family to come soon. The family will assume a major difference when their daughter arrives to join them.

Considering pain of departure from camps, struggle to begin a new life in a strange land, cultural transformation, language barrier and so on, resettlement is a big challenge starting, not easy for every resettling Bhutanese to opt. But, with the passage of time, it is definiate that their situations improve and become able to materialize their dreams and hopes. Many those who have already spent more than a year in a foreign land have seen that their resettlement turned out to be instrumental in flashing new hopes out of adversities.

(The write-up is based on the conversation with the Timsina family in Denmark)