(Delivered by Neeru Khapangi)

NeeruHonourable Minister Mark Butler, Members of Parliament, Mayors, Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Department of Immigration and Citizenship officials, representatives from the Service Providers, all other distinguished guests and my elders, brothers and sisters from the Bhutanese community in Adelaide

It gives me immense pleasure as I speak on behalf of the Bhutanese community in Adelaide on this sacred occasion to express our gratitude for Australian government and the Australian people for giving us this identity. Today is a very special day for all the members of Bhutanese community not only those in SA; perhaps not even only in Australia.

I am Neeru Khapangi. 19 years ago, I was born in a refugee camp in Nepal to stateless parents. By birth, I was stateless, identity-less. Bhutan was a fairy-tale when heard it at aged five. A tender mind could rarely imagine what forced my parents leave the country and live as refugees.

For 15 years, I wondered for identity. I had listened to the stories from seniors about denial to job, and any other opportunities for personal progress. I leave it up to you to decide what life was with 200 grams of rice a day, without shelter, clothes, higher education and job. And without identity.

After 19 years struggle of search for identity, I am overtly happy today that my dream has been realised today.

I can speak my language but forgot to read and write. Being the second language, I am very poor in English and don’t know Dzongkha, Bhutan’s national language. That’s the darker side of my linguistic identity. I grew up without wearing my cultural dresses. Chaubandi cholo and fariya look antiques for me. As I learn to live in society heavily influenced by individualism and consumerism, I have begun to feel my rich culture, family and societal bonds, love, affection, respect and sense of brotherhood in collective living are gradually becoming fragile.

Australia has given me right to culture and language. But they have become secondary as I struggle here for livelihood. And I am fighting amidst these confusions to seek my social, linguistic, cultural and personal identity. I will continue to fight until I realise this.

This is not just the story of Neeru Khapangi but of whole new generation of Bhutanese community. Young and tender minds of Bhutanese Youth Group have come up with all these sentiments, aspirations, enthusiasm and commitments for search of our identity. Thank you Australia, you have given us legal identity. Bhutanese in Australia are indebted for this. This reinvigorates energy within us to commit ourselves to the service of this nation. Australia, we will not forget your support and faith given to us. I strongly believe no one should be compelled become a refugee in this world.

Today, Bhutanese Youth Group expresses gratitude to DIAC who coordinated this special event. MRC provided us physical spaces for our planning and helped us with other stationeries, LCC helped us with computers for our community members get ready for citizenship tests. We are very thankful to them. This is special occasion for us to express gratitude to all organisations, councils and agencies such as Salisbury and Playford Councils, Australian Refugee Association, Anglicare SA, Migrant Health Services, St Vincent De’Paul Society, Baptist Care and many others, who provided support to Bhutanese for settlement in the last five years.

BYG is also grateful to Ratan Gazmere, who guided us for this special event. Without him, this occasion would not have been possible. BYG appreciation also goes to Ms. Dil Kumari Karki for her involvement in organising the cultural item on display today and cultural performers.

We are also thankful to elders of Bhutanese Australian Association of South Australia who guided us and encouraged us for many social and community activities. As a BAASA auspice team, BYG was and will remain committed to service of the community.

May we now request Eugenia Tsoulis, the CEO of Migrant Resource Centre and Nayano Taylor-Neumann, Manager of Lutheran Community Care to come to the stage. And Dom Kafley, who have made selfless efforts for helping our seniors to prepare for citizenship test.

Thank you

Nepali version (delivered by Bibas Ghimirey)

bibasसम्माननीय मन्त्रि Mark Butler, सांसदहरु, Mayors, Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Department of Immigration and Citizenship का कर्मचारीहरु, अन्य विशेष अतिथिहरु र भुटानी समुदायका सदस्यहरु

DIAC तथा Bhutanese Youth Group द्वारा आयोजित आजको यो विशेष कार्यक्रममा भुटानी समुदायको प्रतिनिधी भएर Australian सरकार र Australian जनता प्रति आभार प्रकट गर्न पाउदा औधी खुशी छु ।

म १९ वर्ष अघि नेपालको शरणार्थी शिविरमा देश बिहिन र परिचय बिहिन जन्मिएको हु । मलाई याद छ करिब ५ वर्षको हुदा मैले भुटानका बारे बाबा-आमाबाट सुन्दा दन्त्य कथा जस्तो लागेको थियो । भुटानबाट मेरा जन्मदाता किन लखेटिए र किन गाँस बास र कपास बिना बाँच्न बाध्य भए, त्यस बेलाको मेरो कलिलो दिमागले किन केलाउन सक्थ्यो र ।

१५ वर्ष मैले म कुन देशको हु भन्ने खुलदुली विच विताए । रोजगारी र शिक्षाबाट बञ्चित, झुत्रो-झुम्रो लाएर छानाबाट तारा गन्न सकिने छाप्रोमा दिनको २०० ग्राम चामलका भरमा म कसरी बाँचे भन्ने लेखा जोखा गर्न म यहा हरुलाई नै छाड्छु । यो भन्दा कारुणिक पक्ष त म १९ वर्ष परिचय बिना नै बाँचे ।

मेरो यो १९ वर्ष लामो संघर्ष आज पूरा भएको पाउँदा असाध्यै खुशी छु । मसंग अब मेरो परिचयको प्रमाण छ, म आज आफ्नो भन्ने दुइ पाइला माटोमा खडा हुन सकेको छु ।

म मेरो भाषा बोल्न सक्छु तर लेख्न र पढ्न सक्दिन । अंग्रेजी पराइ भाषा भएको कारण त्यसमा पनि कमजोर छु । यो मेरो भाषिक परिचयको अध्यारो पक्ष हो । मेरो सांस्कृतिक पहिरन दौरा सुरुवाल पराया लाग्न थालेको छ । ती पहिरन सांस्कृतिक भन्दा पनि कुनै विशेष समारोहको जस्तो लाग्छ । व्यक्तिबाद र उप-भोक्ता-बादले गाजेको समाजमा जीउन जान्दै गर्दा मैले देख्न थालेको छु मेरो समाजमा रहेको सु-रम्य संस्कृति, सुमधुर पारिवारिक सम्बन्ध, प्रेम, आस्था, दया र भातृत्व जस्ता सामाजिक गुणहरु विस्तारै विलय हुदैछन् ।

Australia ले मलाई भाषा र संस्कृतिको अधिकार दिएको छ । तर जीउने संघर्षका कारण ती अधिकार गौण बनेका छन् । यही अप्ठेरो परिस्थिति विच म सामाजिक, भाषिक, सांस्कृतिक र व्यक्तिगत परिचयका लागि लागि परेको छु । त्यो साकार नपारी म चुप लागेर बस्ने छैन ।

यो कथा केवल मेरो मात्र हैन तर प्रवासमा रहेको सम्पूर्ण भुटानी नयाँ पीडिको हो । यीनै भानवा, महत्वकांक्षा, व्यग्रता र तदा-रुकता-का साथ परिचयको खोजीमा लाग्ने प्रणका साथ Bhutanese Youth Group तयार भएको छ । नागरिक बनेर यो देशको सेवा गर्ने मौका दिएको मा हामी Australia प्रति अनुगृहित छौं । हामी तिम्रो यो सदा-सयता प्रति सदैव ऋणी रहने छौं ।

आजको यो कार्यक्रम सफल पार्न लागि पर्ने DIAC का कर्मचारी प्रति हामी धन्यबाद प्रकट गर्दछौं । यो कार्यक्रम तयार गर्ने क्रममा महत्वपुर्ण सहयोग गर्ने MRC र LCC प्रति हामी आभारी छौं । गएको ५ वर्ष भुटानी समुदायलाई सहयोग पुर्याCउने Salisbury र Playford Council, ARA, Anglicare SA, Migrant Health Services, St Vincent De’Paul Society, Baptist Care लगायत सबै संघ संस्थालाई हामी यसै अवसरमा धन्याबाट व्यक्त गर्दछौं । यो कार्यक्रम आयोजना गर्न विशेष भुमिका खेल्ने अग्रज Ratan Gazmere प्रति पनि हामी आभारी छौं र सांस्कृतिक सामान भेला गर्न सहयोग पुर्यापउने दिल कुमारी कार्कीलाई पनि धेरै धेरै धन्याबाद ।

हाम्रा हरेक काममा सहयोग पुर्याृउने र समाज सेवामा प्रेरणा प्रदान गर्ने Bhutanese Australian Association of SA प्रति हामी आभारी छौं । हामी BAASA को छत्र-छायामा रही समाजको उत्थानका लागि प्रतिबद्ध रहने छौं ।

यो अभियानमा सहयोग पुर्यातउने Migrant Resource Centre की CEO Eugenia र Lutheran Community Care की Manager Nayano लाई हामी सम्मान गर्न चाहान्छौं । अनि बुबा-आमाहरुलाई नागरिकता test तयारी गर्न सघाउने दाजु Dom Kafley पनि हाम्रा सम्मानका पात्र हुन । सम्मान लिन म उहाहरुलाई stage मा बोलाउछु ।

धन्यवाद

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