Life Thought Hopeless as a Refugee – Rethought Powerfully as a Journalist

What Heroes Do

Aug 30, 2021
Jerry Ashton
Culture

Comic by Vic Guza

 

Thakur Prasad Mishra – known as “TP” professionally, in media, and among his friends, has a past few of Our Newspaper’s readers would have chosen willingly even though it has a happy outcome. One of those is being selected as one of our “rethink” heroes.

This is likely the first in our series where the supporting article’s value is only that of providing the details. The cartoon by Let’s Rethink This artist Vic Guiza tells the story quite well.

So, the background.

Have you ever heard of the South Asian nation of Bhutan, supposedly known to the outside world as one of the happiest nations on the planet? Or of the brutal regime that drove TP’s people to flee that country? Did you know the rise of the dictatorship was driven by the 1988 census?

When the ruling “Ngalop” population learned that they were on the way to becoming the minority, they instituted their cultural traditions like the "National Norm" to preserve their culture and marginalize non-natives. They went so far as to require the national dress code of their culture to be worn during business hours and even removed Nepali as a language of instruction in schools to preserve theirs as the national language.

The resultant “one nation, one people” policy, made ethnic pluralism an impossibility.

The horrors began, and TP’s family felt all of them. Escaping the country and living in refugee camps was the only choice left if they wanted themselves and their families to live.

A refugee’s long road to resettlement

The stories of these dispossessed people caught the attention of a New York Times reporter in December 2010, and TP – then 26 years old and having survived almost two decades of refugee camps – was interviewed in Raleigh, N.C.

“It’s a tough decision, trying to move from one place to another,” he said then. “But obviously when you compare the life, it’s better.” Today, ten years further on, he is married and the father of a daughter he touchingly welcomes to her first day of school in this article he penned for Let’s Rethink This’s, Our Newspaper

Culture shock, lack of English language skills, and the challenge of navigating the subways in New York City were all, very difficult. Although he had worked as a journalist back in Nepal, he was happy to take manual jobs.

About that journalism…

It was by the grace of an Australian contingent that visited TP’s refugee camp which singled him out for his writing skills and gave him an award – that’s all it took to confirm for TP that journalism was a way to bring attention to the plight of those whose lands had been stripped from them.

TP studied up to the tenth grade inside refugee-camp-based schools run by a non-profit organization called the CARITAS-Nepal. Classrooms were crowded and lessons were often taught by unskilled teachers with minimal training. There were no libraries, computers, or labs in camp schools.

But, that is in the past. Where are his interests now?

Who stands with Bhutanese refugees in Nepal?

“It is not too late to repatriate the remaining 7,000 Bhutan nationals still in camps in eastern Nepal,” he says…reaching for his computer keyboard to expand on a story he published in the Nepali Times in 2019.

Because that’s what heroes do.

By Contributor:

Jerry Ashton

Jerry Ashton walked into Occupy Wall Street in 2011 as a debt collector, and walked out of that experience two years later as a debt forgiver – literally rethinking his profession to co-found RIP Medical Debt in 2014 to reverse the ills caused by that industry. Six years later at the time of his retirement, his charity had successfully abolished over $2.7 billion in unpayable medical debt for over 1,800,000 Americans across the U.S. As of this writing, the total debt abolished is over $5 billion over almost 4 million people.

Jerry founded Let's Rethink This in late 2020 with the intention of seeing that lightning can strike twice. This time as a “B” Corp and not a charity, Jerry and his co-creators intend to bring about $1 billion in social and economic good this time through a unique Searchlight/Spotlight/Ignite model.

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