Pabi, 24 years old: “For the past two years, I have been working as a Deaf Asian interpreter. I am so proud of what I have been able to accomplish for myself since coming to Canada. As a Deaf interpreter, I make an effort to provide great sign language translation to new Deaf Nepali immigrants and refugees in Canada. What I like most about my jobs is that I can interact with people. With my two other jobs as an educational assistant and a clothing associate, I feel I can empower and encourage people.
I live independently, but when I am off work I will often visit my family, my sisters and their families or go for our cultural Nepali celebrations. Sometimes I also visit my Nepali friends or video chat with them.
My hobby is travel. Last summer I flew to New York City, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Last Christmas I drove through 14 states, from Ottawa to Florida and returned!”
Pabi was born Deaf in Dagana, Bhutan, but she says she can do anything hearing people do, except hear. Her parents fled Bhutan soon after she was born. She grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal until the age of eighteen, when her family was resettled to Ottawa, Canada. In her adopted country, Pabi had to overcome big obstacles due to a lack of specialized education for Deaf people in the refugee camp. Even after having spent a few years in Canada, Pabi continues to be amazed at all the learning and communications tools at her disposal including high-tech visual learning devices for the Deaf and quality interpreting services. She is very proud that she recently passed the Canadian citizenship test. “I can’t wait to go to the citizenship ceremony. It will be a big day!”
Refugees. Ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Share their stories.
Refugees from Bhutan have lived in a protracted refugee situation in Nepal since 1989. In 2007 a broad resettlement programme was launched for this group and UNHCR has helped more than 100,000 to find a new home in a third country. Canada has helped an estimated 6,000 refugees from Bhutan, like Pabi, start a new life in different communities across the country, including Ottawa. UNHCR works with the Canadian government and private sponsorship groups to help coordinate resettlement opportunities in Canada.