Indra Dulal was raised in rural Bhutan. One of eight siblings, he learned to speak English at high school. This helped prepare him for a lifetime of teaching, advocacy, language translation and community work.
In addition to English, Dulal moves between the languages of Nepali, Hindi, Dzongkha and Sanskrit and is a treasured mentor, JP, and community advocate in the former refugee community of Papaioea.
Dulal and his family spent 16 years in a refugee camp in Nepal, where he worked as a teacher in the school. He recalls "a very miserable life" with more than 22,000 people living in cramped conditions. There was no electricity, housing was in the form of emergency shelters, and summer temperatures reached up to 41C.
Dulal, his wife, four children, and his parents were part of the 2009 New Zealand refugee quota, and settled in Palmerston North.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Since 2012, Dulal has been involved in the community garden that was initially set up at Crewe Crescent, Hokowhitu, and was moved to Awapuni Community Centre in 2018.
Dulal's family has grown, and he is now the proud grandfather of four grandchildren. He is looking forward to planting potato and pumpkin crops as the soil warms, and watching them flourish.
As he cares for his ageing father at home, he reflects on the unifying nature of food, and gardening. For many former refugees, having access to spaces for growing food is vital.
It eases the financial burden of feeding a family. It provides an opportunity to grow food that features in the cuisine of their culture, including vegetables, herbs and spices not readily available at shops or markets. It also provides a context for interaction in the wider community; meeting other gardeners, sharing knowledge and skills.
Since arriving in Palmerston North, Dulal has completed interpreter training, worked at Freyberg High School in its English as a second language (ESOL) department, and spent time with Refugee Services as a community development worker.
• Environment Network Manawatū is a hub for about 60 enviro groups, working in areas ranging from sustainable living to wildlife conservation. Find them on Facebook or visit enm.org.nz.