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Bhutan to Blacktown

Losing everything and finding Australia

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I lost my possessions, my salary, my status, my career, my country. And in that fall, I gained everything.

Bhutan is known as the land of Gross National Happiness, a Buddhist Shangri-La hidden in the Himalayas. But in the late 1980s, Bhutan waged a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign against its citizens of Nepali ancestry. Forced to flee Bhutan, Om Dhungel spent six years as a refugee in Nepal before he arrived in Australia. Today Om is a respected community leader in western Sydney, consulted frequently by government and settlement organisations on refugee policy.

Written with Walkley Award–winning journalist James Button, Bhutan to Blacktown tells of Om Dhungel’s remarkable journey from a village on the Himalayan ridges and life as a refugee in Kathmandu, to, eventually, Blacktown, Australia. It is a story of grit and determination, humour and irrepressible optimism.

‘Om Dhungel’s journey of the heart and soul, from the fields of southern Bhutan to the streets of Blacktown, Sydney, is a journey from which we can all learn, regardless of our origins.’ — Michael Hutt, Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

‘Om’s positivity and tenacity helped him traverse the harrowing path of a stateless person to build a new life for himself and his community. By telling his inspirational story and shedding light on the resettlement experience of Bhutanese refugees in Australia, Om brings the issue of refugees and the conditions for their successful integration in their new communities to a wider audience.’ — Bhim Subba, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad

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