Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Refugees from Bhutan settle well in Chch

Source: Press.co.nz

Christchurch's growing Bhutanese population is settling in well despite more than 15 years of living in refugee camps.

The city welcomed its first intake of about 30 Bhutanese refugees in April, when New Zealand became the first country to offer a new home to the displaced people.

Another three families are due on August 15 and Refugee Services Aotearoa is looking for volunteers to help them adjust to life in Christchurch.

Southern regional manager Anne-Marie Reynolds said Christchurch would resettle more than 100 Bhutanese people.

They were placed around the city as housing became available, but so far no families had been left isolated, she said.

"They are very gentle, but strong people. I think they will have a great resettlement here," Reynolds said.

Some of the children had spent their whole lives in refugee camps in Nepal before getting the opportunity to be resettled in the West.

Reynolds said the camps were highly organised and many of the children and adults spoke good English.

"The children are settled into schools and parents are doing computer training classes and learning the language. They are hungry for education," she said.

"It's quite an adjustment with budgeting and climate and cultural changes. There's anxiety for any new group that comes in. Will they cope and be liked and be wanted?"

More than 100,000 Bhutanese people are in camps in Nepal. The mainly Hindu people were forced out of the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan in the early 1990s.

No comments: