What freedom means to me: Before I could even say the word “freedom,” it was snatched away from my mouth by the men-dominated society

What freedom means to me: Before I could even say the word “freedom,” it was snatched away from my mouth by the men dominated societyBefore I could even say the word “freedom,” it was snatched away from my mouth by the men-dominated society.

Hundreds of thousand Nepali speaking Bhutanese, my family being one of them, had to flee the happiest country on earth, Bhutan, because they were different. Wearing different clothes and speaking a different language got their house burnt.

Daring to question the authority got them a bullet through their skull

Praying to a different God got them a life sentence in prison. Speaking a different language got them expelled from school. And, if they dared to question the authority, it got them a bullet through their skull. Being different made them refugees.

Their hard work and patriotism didn’t matter in the end

Their lives were determined by those who looked at them as outsiders. My parents had to spend twenty years in a refugee camp because they were different. I was born in the camp in Nepal and I was lucky enough to have religious freedom, unlike my parents.

What freedom means to me: Before I could even say the word “freedom,” it was snatched away from my mouth by the men dominated societyDespite the religious freedom that I had in the refugee camp, a wall of discrimination came between my independence. The local Nepalese people’s eyes would blaze with burning hate when they would see us in the marketplace. Just because we were refugees. Before I could even say the word “freedom,” it was snatched away from my mouth by the men-dominated society.

Just because they were men, they controlled what women can do and what they can dream about.

For an average child growing up in a refugee camp, schools were not the most prominent priority. However, to me they were everything. My father went to school and was a teacher. But my mother never even stepped her foot on the school ground.

Throughout my life, I struggled with the society that was structured to tell me to be like my mother. But I had my own desire to be educated like my father. In retrospect, I now understand why I always had to collect water every morning while my brother got ready for school.

This August it will be nine years since we have immigrated to the United States – the land of opportunity and freedom.

Here I have the opportunity and freedom to do what I desire. From religious freedom to a basic human right to get an education. And most importantly, dreaming and living my life how I want to live it without the interference of society or government. This is what freedom and independence mean to me.

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Refugee voices are stories or articles written by refugees or immigrants around the world who currently reside in the United States of America.