Pre-departure Orientation (PDO) – invaluable for heart and mind

Photo: Khagen Khadka, private photo

Name: Khagen Khadka

Age: 35

Profession: Bus driver, VY bus

Country of origin: Bhutan

I’m originally from Bhutan. I don’t know much about my motherland because we left when I was 8 years old due to political issues surrounding our ethnicity. After we left Bhutan we lived in a refugee camp in Nepal for 18 years.

Caritas Nepal provided free primary education and basic health care in the refugee camp. UN agencies provided food and clothes. It was very hard. We wanted to go to back to Bhutan, but we were not allowed to.

From 2007 IOM began refugee resettlement to 9 countries (USA, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, UK and Canada). Our initial resettlement process started in 2009, and we finally came to Norway in March 2012.

My family and I received Pre-departure Orientation (PDO) from IOM prior to our departure. Information given during orientation helped us in the initial phase after resettlement in Norway. The information prepared us to travel and built our excitement. I remember the discussion on differences and similarities in our culture and the Norwegian culture. To this day, I use that information such as preparing the children to go to school or kindergarten, school – parent meetings or driving the children to after-school activities.

From April 2012, we began a Norwegian social studies course, and later that August we began a two- year adult language class. On completion of the language course I worked in a store, however, I yearned to do something else. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) helped fulfil my dream by funding my bus driver’s training and license.

My first job as a bus driver was in the arctic city of Tromsø in Northern Norway. I steadily moved and worked ‘southwards’ until moving to Sarpsborg, small city in the East of Norway. I have a permanent job in Sarpsborg and have bought my first family home. I feel settled now and enjoy a happy life with my family.

The orientation from IOM sits deeply in my mind and heart. When new things occur in my daily life, I am reminded of the PDO classes. I am in contact with the Bhutanese Diaspora, we become emotional when we remember the PDO classes and how valuable it was to receive information of our future country from someone who shared the same language and cultural background as us.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities