Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment Project

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(The following article has been published by SEWA International)

How are our "resettled" brothers and sisters from Bhutan and the Nepal refugee camps surviving? Please read this story below. There are already two SEWA Bhutanese Empowerment Projects operating in our small neighboring state of New Hampshire - and three next door in Massachusetts!

Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment Project


Sewa International USA provides a helping hand to Bhutanese refugees

The population in Bhutan mainly consists of two communities: the Drukpas and the Lhotshampas. In 1985, conflict between these two communities resulted in a mass exodus of Lhotshampas to Nepal. Starting from then until 1994, more than 110,000 Lhotshampas took refuge in seven UN-administered camps in Nepal living in very poor conditions.

The United States eventually volunteered to resettle 60,000 of these refugees, with the remainder destined to go to other developed nations. In 2008, they began arriving in the United States in what the UN has described as one of the world's largest resettlement efforts ever.

These refugees are given only a few months of support from the government and the resettlement agencies. After that, they are required to become self-sufficient. The most pressing needs are for financial assistance, employment, and basic material needs. They also require support to help them make the transition to this new land.

These are poor families who cannot afford to buy essentials such as blankets, winter jackets, and toys for their children. Many have no jobs or are students and have no income. Although the VolAgs (Voluntary Agencies), or resettlement agencies, provide some support for the first few months, it is not adequate.

Though many of the refugees are educated and can speak English, many of them have remained unemployed. And because agency support and government aid is not available to them for an extended period of time, the assistance of Sewa International is quickly becoming a lifeline for many of these families.

Sewa International USA is providing:

Sewa International USA has taken up a nationwide project to help these families. Currently, our chapters in various cities, along with various local organizations, are working to fulfill the immediate and longer-term needs of these refugees with several more chapters gearing up to help.

Sewa International USA is providing:

  • Financial help

  • Essential materials such as blankets, winter jackets, clothes, toys etc.

  • Employment assistance

  • Job search assistance

  • Sponsorship of vocational training

  • Job fairs

  • Mobility

  • Help in acquiring driver licences

  • Sponsoring or donating used cars

  • Help in transitioning to a new environment while preserving their culture

  • Help in conducting cultural events

  • Mentoring and friendship

  • Rides to their preferred places of worship

Each chapter may only provide certain services depending upon availability of resources. We welcome any Bhutanese refugees who need help to contact us at the information provided below.
Sewa International USA is currently conducting the BRE project at the following locations.

Email: info@sewausa.org

Phone: 510-579-4742

How can you help?

We appeal to our benefactors to donate towards this project. We also appeal to the community and its organizations to provide a helping hand.

Supporting Organizations:
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Temple of Atlanta
India Association of New Hampshire
Sunnyvale Hindu Temple
Vishwa Hindu Parishad