Hope of Homeland.
I was jumping from one site to another and stumbled on one blog of Prakash, a young Bhutanese refugee now residing in US. Articles and Images there made me recall those five days I spent in refugee camps some One and half year back.
I was there to assist Nilayan Dutta (Photographer, Drik India), to conduct a Workshop for Bhutanese refugees among whom many were aspiring journalists, in Beldangi-I, one of the Seven Camps, located in Eastern low-land of Nepal. I was excited, because I had heard a lot about Bhutanese refugee and that was the first time I was there. Program was made possible by Third World Media Network, Bhutan Press Union, Association of Press Freedom Activists-Bhutan and Drik India.
I gained some lifelong lessons during my stay of 5 days in camps. Among the participant there was an old fellow, Narad Timsina, whom I will never forget. He was almost my grandfather’s age. He would every day bring the old pictures of his when he was in Bhutan, his home, his place, his co-workers, his memories. He wrote a beautiful poem and thanked me for being there and sharing the knowledge of Photography, the last day.
The pictures participant produce in very short span of time were stunning. We just remained spell bounded after seeing those pictures. They were evident of their vision, with very close and personal touch.
We talk much about closeness in Photography. Like legendary photographer Robert Capa said “If your picture are not good enough, you are not close enough.” Whenever we talk about closeness we only think of physical distance between subject and Photographer, but what about emotional closeness…? Perhaps their picture answered this question and perhaps this is what Capa the great wanted to say.Some Pictures of participant can be seen here:
Now third country resettlement process is ongoing. I personally think wherever they go they have right to introduce themselves as a dignified citizen of Bhutan, not as Refugees. They have proof in their hand, it is failure of Nepal and International community to prove so.
Hopefully life would be better than the hardship of camp in third country. But one question still hunts me, what will happen to those images of homeland that I saw in those eyes of the old fellow Narad… ???
Here are some pictures, my memories of camps: