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Podcast highlights for May - Escaping ethnic cleansing and surprising romances

A somewhat provocative heading perhaps, but then 2 of the recent episodes have involved Bosnia Herzegovina and Bhutan. In both countries, large numbers of people had to flee, as their particular ethnic minority group was either under threat or literally forced to leave at gunpoint. It's a theme that comes up again and again in the stories of refugees who have resettled in Tasmania. They have been the wrong religion or minority group and possibly also been in the wrong place and at the wrong time in history. Both Mia and Khadga were just children when their families left their countries of birth, and interestingly, they both group in small villages of which they have fond memories. Of course, in other aspects their stories are very different, as you will here in the episodes.

Unlike Khadga, Mia did not come to Tasmania as a humanitarian entrant, in fact the war in Bosnia had long ended. That's where the link comes with Mwase's story comes in - those surprising romances that seem to have been one of the biggest reasons for people coming to and sticking around Tasmania ! There is often an interesting story to these "how we met" scenarios, and certainly Mia and Mwase's stories are no exception, but at the same time totally different in their context.

On a personal note, it was really great to meet all three of these people all from different continent. In Khadga's case it was a long time coming after an aborted attempt a few years ago and then a string of unlucky circumstances thwarted further efforts, so it was great to finally get his story, and more important to hear more about the local Bhutanese community, which despite its size, tends to fall under the radar. Hopefully you will hear in my conversations with Mwase and Mia quite a bit of laughter, as well as some more reflective and serious moments when it comes to things like experiencing discrimination and struggling with adapting to a new culture.

It's referred to during the interview, but I should mention that Mia's husband was sitting quietly through the whole interview and yet she had no qualms about talking about him quite candidly !

MIA ( Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Mia and her mum were sent away from her village in Bosnia-Herzegovina when she was just 4 1/2. Her mother's family were Muslim, her father's were Catholic. She grew up in Croatia but never fully let go of her Bosnian identity. A random message from a Tassie guy on MySpace was the first step in an eventual romance which would bring eventually to Launceston.

KHADGA (Bhutan)

Khadga's family belong to the Nepali Hindu minority in Bhutan, who had lived in country for generations. In the early 90s, the Bhutanese government decided they didn't want them in the country and many, like Khadga's family were forced to leave essentially at gunpoint and relocate to refugee camps in Nepal. The family had to live in the refugee camp for 19 years, always in a state of uncertainty, before being accepted a refugees for permanent resettlement in Australia. Khadga has made the most of his new opportunity in Australia to qualify as a Registered Nurse and also operates a business providing disability support services under the NDIS.

MWASE ( Malawi)

Mwase's story begins on the shores of Africa's third largest lake and with a interest and passion around human rights and the wider world around him. A meeting with a volunteer teacher from Tasmania lead to a big move to Tasmania in the early 2000s. At that time, Hobart wasn't the easiest place for an African just trying to find his feet in a new country and culture. Mwase has pursued a career in the community care sector and incorporated his passion for music into some of his community projects.

If you want to listen to more personal stories of people from around the world who have made Tasmania their home, please follow the podcast on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, and follow us on Facebook for regular updates.


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