Home > Blog > Introducing Tulashi Phuyel from Pittsburgh

IMG_4281Losing the world you always thought belonged to you was heart breaking. My name is Tulashi Phuyel. I was born in October. My mother died when I was thirteen days old. My childhood was rough not having my mother around. I got married to the most wonderful women on February 20, 1977. My life was pretty good until the ethnic discrimination we experienced began.

The Bhutanese government had a king as a leader, and he decided to throw all the people of Nepalese ethnicity out of Bhutan, which was allowed because of a lack of democracy. It was April 23,1992 when I had to leave the land that was heaven to me. The place where I was born. The place where my childhood lies. The place where I got married.

When I came to Nepal, I had three beautiful little girls and my wife. Without any money we reached Jhapa, Nepal, thanks to the United Nations High Commissioner for IMG_4282Refugees (UNHCR) who gave us refuge in Nepal. There were seven refugee camps in Nepal; we lived in Beldangi II. There were about one hundred and twenty six thousand of us. We lived there for 18 years. While we were there, the leaders of the refugee group contacted the Bhutanese government requesting that they take us back; these requests failed every time.

While we were in Nepal we had two more girls. Money was an important factor in everyone’s life. I made Chitra (roofs made out of bamboo) and sold them while my wife took care of the kids. The people in the sector of the camp would decide who they wanted as their leader, and I was that leader for thirteen years. Later I decided to hand this responsibility to someone else and go to India to work, because I needed to support my family.

When I came back home in 2007, there was rumor going around saying that seven different countries were ready to take us to a new land. We had three different options: stay in the camp, resettle in an third country, or live in the hope that one day the Bhutanese government would take us back. At the beginning I was opposed to this idea of resettlement. Later, when I thought deeply about my daughters’ future, I realized that they were not going to end up going anywhere, so I decided to come to the United States of America.

IMG_4283It was February 3rd when I got a letter saying that I would be flying from Kathmandu, Nepal to come to the United States of America. We stayed in Kathmandu for three days, then on the 6th of February we got on a plane to come to America. We went from Nepal to India to London, then finally landed in America.

It was much cleaner, the air was fresh, but something did not feel right. Poor communication played a negative role in this new, foreign country. At first I wanted to return to the refugee camp, where at least everyone understood what I was saying. I felt like I was suffocating inside and regretted my decision, but when I saw my girls doing homework and talking about how great the school and teachers were, it made me realize that it was the best choice.

On April 28, 2011 I decided to move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Utah. There were more jobs opportunities for non-English speakers and better quality education for the kids. Also my whole family was here, so I decided why should I stay away from loved ones. I am doing pretty well in Pittsburgh and so is my family. One day I wish to go back to Bhutan to visit and see how modern my birth place has become.


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