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The Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement Journey Part 2: On-arrival


Concerns about living in the community

Those interviewed were asked whether they were worried or concerned about going out into the community and whether they felt prepared to go out. Most had no concerns about living in the community, but a few were concerned about their limited English, their living arrangements and isolation.

No concerns about living in the community

Fourteen out of the 18 interviewed said they had no concerns and felt well prepared to go out into the community:

‘I have no worries – I will go and live in my home. I feel prepared.’ (Middle-aged female)

Concerns about limited English and isolation

Those that said they had concerns or worries were concerned about not being able to speak English and their family living arrangements and worried about day-to-day living and isolation:

The main worry is that we have seen so many things we have never used – we may misuse or damage them. But people may teach us how to use them. Shopping – and how to use a bankcard. (Adult female)

I have many worries, because everything is new. We don’t know how to go to the market and buy a simple thing. My mother don’t know how to speak English and when she come out of the home she find difficulties – there are many obstacles. We don’t know how to speak English properly, it is a difficulty. We cannot find similar ethnic groups, and we cannot extend our culture and believed they will bring wealth and fortune to the family. (Adult female)

Concerns about the appropriateness of housing and role of daughters

Interviewees also raised concerns about the appropriateness of housing. The problems were predominantly around the reliance on being housed with or having food being prepared by daughters. Family members would not eat at the daughter or sister’s house as this would incur debt. Generally, other family members should help the daughter and not the other way around as in the Nepali Bhutanese culture/religion daughters are highly respected and treated like ‘goddesses’:

The thing is that, my grandparents will never eat their dinner or lunch in their sister, daughter’s home it’s not possible. (Adult male)

What it will be like living in the community

When asked what they knew about the city in which they were being resettled, almost all of those interviewed said they knew nothing or knew only a little about such matters as the weather or that it had a university:

I don’t know where it is. I don’t know anything about the city. (Middle-aged female)

Interviewees gave mixed responses about what it would be like to live out in the community. Most of those interviewed had family in their cities of resettlement, and some knew of neighbours from Nepal or others from the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre who would be living in the same place. Many of those interviewed said they would be fine out in the community and people would be available to help them if they needed it:

There will be people to help us. They will access us, like here. (Adult female)

Others were unsure or acknowledged that they would have to adjust to living on their own in New Zealand:

It will be difficult at first, but easy once we adjust to the community. (Adult female)

If the peoples are similar like here, it will be nice but if there is peoples who behave rude it will be difficult for us because we don’t know how to face problems over here. (Adult female)

Information needed before going out into the community

Interviewees were asked if there was anything they felt they needed to know more about before they went out to live in the community. Given the lack of knowledge about the resettlement cities it is unsurprising that many of those interviewed wanted to know more about their resettlement city, including what facilities they would find in their local community, where to go to get things and how long this would take, as well as just general information about the city and their community:

Whether there is handy school, hospitals and parks nearby, where we are going to live, how long it takes to get places. (Adult female)

Housing – I had expected to know about the area and street. But I won’t know until we arrive there – I would have liked to know more earlier. I would like to live in close proximity to other Bhutanese families going there. (Older male)

Many things – what is the population of the town – I haven’t found information on the computer. Demographics of the local community – its ethnic background. Geographical features. (Adult female)

They haven’t given us a clear picture of where we are going. They could have given us information about Christchurch, but my brother and volunteers will give us information – 6 weeks is limited in what they can tell us. (Middle-aged male)

Things to look forward to about living in the community

Interviewees were asked what they were most looking forward to about living out in the community. Those interviewed were most commonly looking forward to:

  • having volunteers available to help them adjust:
    • People will help us with shopping, then we will do it ourselves. (Older male)
  • making new friends and meeting new people:
    • Make friends, move around say hello. Mingle with friends. (Adult female)
  • having their own home:
    • Having own home and being able to live our own life happily. (Middle-aged male)
  • taking up study opportunities:
    • Studying – if you don’t do study you can’t do anything. (Adult female)
  • seeing the city:
    • My maternal uncle has told us about [the] city – I want to see it! (Adult female)