Just a couple months ago (last year!) some employees and volunteers from the Meelia Center were thrilled to be part of a very unique experience that shed light on the plea of a lesser known South Asian country–Bhutan. Five Bhutanese refugees, in cooperation with the Saint Anselm College Peace and Justice Department, shared their stories of life as refugees. These five individuals explained in detail the struggles that they experienced and the obstacles that they overcame in the refugee camps. As a member of the audience that knew very little about the struggle of the Bhutanese community, I was shocked to learn of the squalor that these people (and many many others) were subject to. One man spoke of the small huts that families in the camps lived in. He described the huts as being one-roomed and very small, yet they had to fit an entire family inside…sometimes 10+ people! Furthermore, the speakers made me realize how truly blessed Saint Anselm students are with an education. As the men and women described the one-room schools that housed 60 or more students, I was shocked.
However, the Bhutanese refugees shared more than just the difficult living situations that they experienced in the refugee camps, they asked for the help of the Saint Anselm Community. They told the audience that they needed to spread awareness of the plea of the Bhutanese community. Their hope was to spread awareness and promote activism. The Bhutanese community is growing in our city of Manchester, so this event was certainly enlightening and helpful. Students and faculty left feeling inspired to become engaged as well as more aware of a community need. As an active member of the Meelia Center, and the Manchester community, I was certainly happy that I attended!