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American Life: From Bhutan to Charlottesville - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

American Life: From Bhutan to Charlottesville

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A Bhutanese family re-settled in Charlottesville is working everyday to build a new life. Their journey here has been difficult.

The Bhandari's were victims of ethnic cleansing, among thousands of other Hindu Bhutanese forced to leave their country. According to the United Nations 20 years ago 100,000 Hindu Bhutanese were victims of ethnic cleansing, forced to leave the small country of Bhutan.

Chabbi Bhandari says "we get 24 hours to leave the country"

Many ran to neighboring Nepal. Chabbi says "oh we feel sad because we have everything there, our lands - our home there."

With no place else to go, the Bhandari's spent over a year living in the forest. Chabbi says "{we had} 2 or three bamboos to stand and plastic over top and that's were we lived without any fencing around."

The United Nations finally got seven refugee camps up and running in Nepal. They have been around so long, a generation of children have been born and raised there.

Tek Bhandari says.."Me.. I spent my childhood there...17 years.. it's like total my childhood"

Many Bhutanese haven't been granted full citizenship in Nepal and they face persecution and harassment if they try to go back to Bhutan.

The International Rescue Committee is part of a world wide effort to re-settle the tens of thousands of refugees still in Nepal. Many countries, including the U.S. have agreed to accept them. In 2009 the family left the camp for a new home in Charlottesville.

Tek says "We are good here, I don't want to go any where else."

Chabbi adds "If I want to do anything else it's freedom for us."

A place to call home after nearly two decades of living in limbo, now building their American life.

If you'd like to learn more about efforts being made to re-settle all of the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal or more about the International Rescue Committee click here.

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