Oklahoma Contemporary

Station 3

Station 3 audio

Bedouin “black tents” are a symbol of Arab hospitality, traditionally offering shelter and sustenance to exhausted refugees and travelers.

Narration transcripts

Yelda, chanting a poem she wrote (Dari, translated)
The world of happiness because the world is pleasure of him.
I love the whole world and whole world is of him.
You are a friend of God in the morning.
You are a friend of God in the morning.
If you save lives that is kindness from him.
Even the sky and angels are not the same.

I will eat the poison in front of the whiteness.
I will tolerate the pain because the healing is from him.
If my bloody wound doesn’t heal,
the coolness of that wound heals me every moment.

There is no difference between sorrow and happiness for a mystic.
There is no difference between sorrow and happiness for a mystic.

Accept the happiness which is coming after the sadness.
Kingdom and begging are the same for us.
Kingdom and begging are the same for us.
Because the worship is behind each of those.

If Saadi makes a house it is for life.
If Saadi makes a house it is for life.
You may have a strong heart because the foundation is from him.

Surja Khadka (Nepali, translated)
A happy-sad life story. We were born and raised in Bhutan. Then the protest happened in Bhutan, and we didn’t understand anything. Kicked out of Bhutan, fleeing to Nepal. In Nepal, we got the refugee status. We couldn’t become citizens of Nepal. At last, we had to leave there, and ended up coming to enormous America.

The kids are going to school, the bus is taking and bringing them back home. Jobs are available for healthy people; the elderly and disabled are living here happily. We have freedom to practice our traditions, our culture and religion. I guess living is just like this in America. Now where else should we go, if we left this country? We have everything, and now we are living happily here. Many, many thanks to the American government.

In the refugee camp, we had a small bamboo cottage provided by the Nepalese government. The government also provided the basic necessities, food and vegetables bi-weekly, which was enough to sustain life but not plenty. We didn’t have money; we were very poor, just like that, very poor. We lived in that refugee camp for 20 years. After 20 years they sent us here to America. The government brought us here, and we became citizens of the United States. Living here is way better: there are medical facilities, the children go to school for free, and they are having opportunities here. For elderly and disabled people, the government arrangement has been made for them to live happily. Living here has so much convenience; now we don’t need to go anywhere else. We are so happy to be citizens of this great nation.

After coming to America, we are living in Buffalo, New York. We haven’t moved to any other state. By working hard, we have bought a house. Right now, we are living in Riverside in Buffalo. Thank you so much to the government.

Christina, reciting a poem she wrote (Swahili, translated)
My beautiful country,
the mountains and plateaus,
rivers and natural springs.
My beautiful country, the country of my father
I’m not going far, home is nice.
My beautiful country, my father and mother are living there.
My beautiful country, where I was born, I love so much.
My beautiful country, unity is strength
To divide is to weaken
My beautiful country, I work for it with my intelligence
My home is beautiful
My country I love you
Peace and unity
My beautiful country

Mohdsa Musa Khil (English)
Thank you for coming to listen to my poem. It’s my pleasure to share my poem with you. My poem is about peace and humanity.

I’m not Pashtun,
I’m not Tajik,
I’m not Hazara,
I’m not Baluch,
I’m not Turk,
I’m not Sunni,
I’m not Shia,
I’m not from the north, south, east, or west.
I am an Afghan.
We are all Afghan.
We are all one, we are all equal.

I wish my country find peace. I have been wishing for this for more than 14 years of my life, and the older generation have been wishing for this for more than 40.

Baseera (Dari, translated)
For my pure land,
Kabul you are my land.
I am so far from you.
What happened on my own land?
Dead forever,
Far from pain and sadness.
The fragments of RPGs and Bombs should be far from your body (Afghanistan).
Green your name, and my body.
Be life, life to my country of Afghanistan

Baseera (English)
When I came to Pakistan, I was 15 years old. I lived in Pakistan for two years, and then I came here. When I was in my country, I was like...all the day I just clean my home, cook something, that’s it. And stay at home with my family, that’s it. But I was okay, I was happy with my family. I would cook rice with chicken, or something from my country, the name is pawali, lentil, ashook, like this kind of. I have two sisters. They all got married. One, she have five children; the other one also, maybe six children. That’s why, when they would come all together, it was a very big family, and we are happy.

Jainarayan (Nepali, translated)
The property of our ancestors in Bhutan had 14.5 acres of land. It was enough to have 8 to10 cows and animals, and we didn’t have to take them to other fields. In our own field, we had enough grass to feed them, and fertilizer and water. We could farm anything and do anything in our field, whether growing oranges or cardamom. We had built a house (gara ghar) and lived together with our family. When father gave us duties and chores, we children all used to complete them.

Some of us worked for the government, and some worked outside for money. Father and mother were farmers so they didn’t have money, whatever they earned was by farming. So if some children didn’t like working on the farm they would work for the government. And that’s how we lived in Bhutan. And when we fled to Nepal, we had no more land, no animals, no citizenship. We had nothing.

Originally I was a farmer, but to work for the government I didn’t have to have a high education. The Bhutanese had higher education than we did, so they were in higher positions and they used to dominate us. Not many of our people were educated, but they needed people to work, and so I also worked for the government. But in the end, even though we had government jobs, and citizenship, we were forced to leave the country.

I came to America with many dreams. I don’t know another way to change the world unless I am able to be active, and tell about the things that have happened to me in my life. Gathering these stories, I have thought about writing a book to teach children and elders about freedom, social values, behavior, and royal nationalism. But I have not been able to accomplish this because of the new technology of computers, and another thing, I have forgotten some of the knowledge I used to have. Perhaps, my suffering can touch not all, but someone’s heart in society.

Home for me is living in peace, and saving and protecting our community. I was born in Bhutan, and if only their society would understand our people; the birthplace and birth mother is considered to be greater than heaven. But we were forced to leave that country, and that affected us a lot. Nevertheless, we have come to this place, and we are living here peacefully. American love helps people like us, and I’m very happy, but my birthplace of Bhutan is always closest to my heart.

Zubaida (Arabic, translated)
Interviewer: Now that you are here, what do you consider your real home?

This is a difficult question, and more difficult to answer. I love them both (Iraq and America); I consider them both my homeland. Iraq is where I grew up, and I cannot deny what it offered me and how it built my personality since I was very young. Iraq gave me love and peace, taught me morals and principles, and I cannot deny that. And when I moved here I felt safe and loved, and I learned to be strong. I learned how to work, and if anything happens to me the government will support me. I have a backup, and they will not leave me alone, and I thank God that I’m here now. It’s safe, there’s goodness, there’s love, and that’s always the place I dream of.

I hope Iraq will be like this one day. I consider them both my home and I will be probably in the front lines to defend this country if (God forbid) something happens to America, because I consider it my home country. I won’t forget what they offered me and how they saved me, because I could have possibly been dead. They saved and secured me. I found a job, thank God. There is a job to do, and a house, and here is life. This is my homeland too.

Regardless of the circumstances that forced us to leave, including the war and sectarian conflicts...of course the war has a very big impact in our lives, but homeland is still priceless, and this is what I was taught: I should always value, appreciate and be grateful to everything given to me from my home country. And so when I moved over here, I am very grateful to the United States, and I consider it like my home country, there’s no difference, and I wish peace and good for the whole world and my beloved homeland Iraq. I wish good for the whole world.

Dee (Karen, translated)
Houses are a part of us, because we need shelter when it’s raining. So without a house, where are we supposed to stay when it’s raining?

Before I left Burma, my house there was made of bamboo. There were 10 family members in my home, including my parents. We were farmers and worked in the rice field, and also took care of buffalos.

But then I lived at Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand. The situation for us was a little better there, compared to Burma. We had a place to stay, and we had food to eat.

We used to be farmers in Burma. I left Burma 10 years ago. I didn’t come directly to Mae La Refugee Camp. First, I left my family and moved to Koe Se on my own, when I was 10 years old. Koe Se is a village in Burma, not in Thailand. I moved to Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand in 2008, and I lived there for 10 years. I moved to Buffalo in 2018.

When I was younger, I never went to school, I had to babysit my young siblings. But then when I got a little bit older, I started farming and taking care of the buffalo. I couldn’t go to school at Mae La Refugee Camp, but I started learning to read from the other children when they came back from school to do their homework. I would watch them and read and write along with them, and that’s how I learned.

Sang Rem, song lyrics (Falam, translated)
One star, one me
Two stars, two me
Three stars, three me
Four stars, four me
and continue

Jainarayan (Nepali, translated)
Stagnant Mountain
Bhutanese Gorkhali humanitarian,
Like the bears of the mountain-dwelling Maoists, 
Let’s think like winter and summer are the same, 
and forget all the sorrows.

We dig the roads in-between mountains and the cars are running. 
See today why are you wasting sweat. 
Let’s remember the generation of Gorkhali and remove the martyr,
why wait now, let’s leave the monster.

Now remembering these miseries, our wisdom says that 
“Bags of gold are like the dirt of your hands.”

What can be done with wealth?
The pleasure of eating nettles and greens with happiness in your heart is pleasing.

Audio narrators:
Yelda, originally from Afghanistan, speaking Dari. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Surja Khadka, originally from Bhutan, speaking Nepali. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Christina, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking Swahili. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Mohdsa Musa Khil, orginally from Afghanistan, speaking English. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Baseera, originally from Afghanistan, speaking Dari and English. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Jainarayan, originally from Bhutan, speaking Nepali. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Zubaida, originally from Iraq, speaking Arabic. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Dee, originally from Burma, speaking Karen. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Sang Rem, originally from Burma, speaking Falam. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


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