In 2011, one young family stepped off a plane and into their new lives in the United States. As Deaf refugees from Bhutan, Bhawani Dangal, his wife Damanta, and their young son faced many obstacles to their pursuit of the American Dream. Because they were Deaf, many services for refugees, such as cultural orientation and English classes, were inaccessible. They didn’t know American Sign Language (ASL), so their access to the American Deaf community was limited.
Deaf refugees - who come from countries as diverse as Bhutan, Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - are often isolated from their culture, other Deaf people, and even their own families. In many countries, they are less than second-class citizens.
Social media has enabled Deaf refugees from around the country such as Bhawani and Damanta to connect with each other.
In June 2022, Deaf refugees from around the U.S. and internationally will come together at the World Deaf Refugee Conference to meet, learn, and let their voices be heard.
Deaf refugees are rich in hope, enthusiasm, and courage. They have amazing stories to tell about their journeys—stories that medical professionals, interpreters, refugee resettlement agencies, and all the rest of us need to hear.
But often Deaf refugees cannot cover the costs of transportation and accommodations to participate in events such as the World Deaf Refugee Conference. Your donation will help them participate in this historic gathering to advocate and build community for Deaf refugees around the world.
With lots of help from friends, Bhawani and Damanta learned ASL, learned to drive and bought a car, and found employment. But all around him, Bhawani saw other Deaf refugees who needed support, so he started his own ASL and cultural orientation classes. He interpreted for people who only knew Nepali Sign Language, giving them access to medical and social services in the U.S.
His and other stories will be recorded during the conference and made available to the public.
Every Sign, Voice, and Action Count!
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