[This is part one of a three-part series of stories from "Faces of Nashville," a joint venture of Siloam Health and Jeremy Cowart. We are pleased to boast of Siloam Health as one of our Most Outstanding Tokens Show sponsors, and a most outstanding provider of "health care transformed by love" here in Nashville. Jeremy Cowart is an award-winning photographer, artist, and entrepreneur whose mission in life is to "explore the intersection of creativity and empathy," and is the founder of The Purpose Hotel, a planned global for-profit hotel chain designed to fuel the work of not-for-profit organizations. For more information, visit, www.facesofnashville.org, www.siloamhealth.org or www.jeremycowart.com.]
I came to the United States after living 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. I was born in Bhutan, but in 1991 when I was one-year-old, the government forced 100,000 Bhutanese people—including my family—to leave. But conditions weren’t much better in Nepal. When we arrived, we didn’t have homes or education or health care. The people in Nepal had to create it all for us. In that first year, many people—including my father and my eldest brother—died from diarrhea and malnutrition. For many years, we were caught in the middle because the Nepali government said we were not from Nepal, and the Bhutanese government said we were not from Bhutan. The Nepali government tried to find ways they could help us, and eventually we were able to come to the United States in 2008.
There have been so many things that I never expected in my life here. The first night that we came to the apartment in the United States, I felt the bed and it was so soft. I had never experienced anything like it. We didn’t have beds like this back home in the refugee camp. We had to make them from bamboo sticks and didn’t have mattresses. And I never expected that one day I would have my own car. The day I got it was one of the happiest moments of my life. When I was young, my friends and I would go outside after school and watch the cars drive by. We dreamt about which car we would choose if we could have one. I never in my life thought that I would have one, but my dreams came true. I felt free and like I could go wherever I wanted.
My mother always tells me to be successful by working hard and doing good things for your community. My mom worked really hard to give us a life even in the refugee camp where there were tough conditions. She broke down gravel and did other hard jobs so we could have food. It’s all because of her. She encourages me to remember that life is a gift from God and to share the love of Christ with other people in my community. She makes me proud of my story and proud of the life we have made here.