New Internationalist

Air castles

May 2001

Exiles from Bhutan get the picture

After spending more than half their lives in camps in eastern Nepal, 32 Bhutanese refugee students have been offered a chance to voice their feelings through photography. PhotoVoice is teaching them photographic and journalism skills so that they can document their lives. Tiffany Fairey, co-ordinator of PhotoVoice, says: ‘I hope their work will encourage a more intimate understanding of refugee issues.’

There are 100,000 refugees from Bhutan now living with great difficulty in Nepal. Bhutan remains a monarchy with no constitution and no Bill of Rights. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is currently Head of State and of the Government, as well as being the highest court of appeal.

Without a permanent home or avenue of opportunity, the young people of the Bhutanese refugee camps are dedicating their efforts to raising awareness. As Derin Charan, a determined student says: ‘Living in huts and dreaming in castles is like trying to make castles out of air. But my endeavour will not be in vain. I will be an outstanding intellectual giant of my generation.’

Mia Jarlov

PhotoVoice

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 334 This column was published in the May 2001 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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