A Refugee Story

June 19, 2018

This year, for World Refugee Day, we are sharing perspectives from people who have seen the refugee crisis up close. One of them is Jyoti Gurung, a refugee from Bhutan. Read on to see her response to the question, “What does world refugee day mean to you?”

Jyoti, Refugee from Bhutan

“What does World Refugee Day mean to you?”

To me, the World Refugee Day means there are people who care about refugees — people who were forcibly displaced from their home.

I have heard so many definitions of a refugee. Some say, a refugee is someone who’s refused or rejected from their home, and others say a refugee is someone who’s taking a refuge under other entity. I have also heard that a refugee is someone who steals jobs and is a terrorist. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.”

I say refugees are human beings, who have lost their home. Home … that gives us the sense of belonging, identity, and safety. Human beings who have been separated from their family and loved ones. Human beings who are traumatized. Human beings who do not get a chance to live like all humans should.

I was a six month old baby when I became a refugee and my only fault was that I belonged to an ethnic minority group in Bhutan. My family had to flee Bhutan, leave the rest of my family members behind, and move to a refugee camp in Nepal. The journey was filled with darkness, tragedy, uncertainty, and fear. I grew up in a refugee camp, and was finally resettled in the U.S. after 15 years of just existing without any identity or any human rights. This is just my story, one in 22.5 million refugee stories—a happy ending unlike millions of other refugees who are still in need of a home and support.

How can we solve today’s world refugee crisis? In a perfect world, we would all realize that we are all humans despite the differences in our culture, skin color, religion, etc. We would have a better understanding that borders, territories, racial and ethnic categories are man made. But the truth is, we don’t live in a perfect world. So for the world we live in today, as a person who grew up in a refugee camp, as a person who had to grow up as nobody, as a person who was a refugee, I ask you to listen to their stories, learn, be aware, volunteer, advocate, support local and international organizations who are helping refugees in any way they can.

I was a refugee. I stand with refugees. Do you?