Refugee’s dream of meeting his family
26 July 2013

A Chin refugee in Delhi hoping to meet his family one day
“I have lived my life but I am worried about my children and their future… resettlement would be fine but I do not know how long we need to wait for that…"
New Delhi, 26 July 2013, “I have forgotten how my parents look”, said 43-year-old Rowie ,the coordinator  of the tailoring center where JRS conducts tailoring and English classes for the Chin women who have taken refuge in India. He was a 19-year-old college student in Burma’s Chin state when he along with other students in the college joined the anti-government military movement. At one of the rallies he was arrested and subsequently tortured by the military.

“I thought I would die, I could not bear the pain”, said Rowie. “They left me thinking I was dead, “continued Rowie. “I did not think of my future but to avoid severe consequences I fled the same night with a few of my friends.” Once in Mizoram Rowie managed to get shelter with an Indian family. He started to work in their field as farmer and earned his living. His hope to return home turned into despair when he found many were fleeing from Burma and coming to India.

“I decided not to return and thought of settling here even as a refugee“, Rowie said. “I found my wife here and we managed to live all by ourselves… thanks to my caretaker at Mizoram who helped me a lot”. 

In 2007 he reached Delhi with his family to register as an asylum seeker with the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) hoping to be resettled in another country. But it was not as easy as he thought. He met many people waiting years for resettlement, as being a refugee in India doesn't automatically make one   eligible for resettlement. “With five children we were sharing just one room with another refugee family”, said Rowie. “I started taking up odd jobs whatever came my way, but I was much better off compared to others as I could speak English”. Rowie came into contact with JRS when the office moved to Delhi, and soon got associated with its work. Now he helps to identify vulnerable women in the community and encourages them to join the tailoring and English courses. His family now has a room that they rent for themselves and his younger children are attending a non-formal school. Still, he is worried about his children. 
JRS accompaniment to Urban refugees in Delhi.

“I have lived my life but I am worried about my children and their future… resettlement would be fine but I do not know how long we need to wait for that… I came to know that my parents are still alive, they have grown old and I want to see them… I have not seen them for the last 24 years, I want to meet them even just once,” said Rowie. (Names have been changed to protect the person’s identity)
By Ashish Anthony






Press Contact Information
Stan Fernandes SJ
southasia.director@jrs.net
+91 11 4310 4661; +91 11 4953 4106