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The Pradhan Family

The Pradhan Family, a Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity family

“Nepalese saying: “When we wait a long time with passion, the fruit is much sweeter”

Isn’t that a wonderful saying? It’s not always easy to be patient, but when there is a possibility of owning your own home, patience is critical. Lal and Muna Pradhan have demonstrated patience over and over again. They are Bhutanese who grew up and met in a refugee camp in Nepal after their families and over 100,000 other Bhutanese were exiled to Nepal and India during an ethnic cleansing by the Bhutanese government, leaving their homes behind. Most of the refugees were in the refugee camps for 15 to 20 years, living in shelters made of bamboo poles and plastic roofs, and without water or electricity. The families had to spend hours in line waiting to get water from a common tap. Lal said that they had either coal, wood, kerosene oil stove for cooking and lamps for light and that it was extremely polluted from burning coal and always noisy because of the crowded conditions.

Lal and Muna met in the camp, married and had their first son there, while waiting to emigrate to the U.S. The United Nations Refugee Agency, working with Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, has relocated 100,000 refugees as part of a humanitarian project started in 2007.

Finally, Lal, Muna and their oldest son, Swopnil (now 8) were able to move to Vermont in 2012. They lived with family for two years and moved into an apartment in 2014 where their second child, Aarush, was born. They learned about Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity and attended an information meeting for the Harrington Village project 4 years ago and submitted their first application. They were turned down several times because there were more applicants than homes to be built. “There’s a Nepalese saying that translates to ‘when we wait for something a long time with passion, the fruit is much sweeter.’ We have been patient waiting for a home because it is so important to our family and we are so happy that it will happen.” At last, they were accepted this year to become the owners of the home under construction on Elmwood Avenue in Burlington.

What are they most looking forward to?

Lal responded quickly by saying that “Owning a home is everything for me because our children will be safe and our new house will be closer to my jobs and my son’s school. My son is anxious to move and to have a safe place to play. Also, we’ll be building security for our family by investing our mortgage payments rather than paying rent.

When I asked Muna what she was looking forward to she showed me the vegetables growing in pots outside the back door of their apartment and said “I want a garden to grow vegetables for our family and maybe flowers, too. Gardens are part of our culture.”

“I am enjoying working on our new home with the volunteers and every day our son asks ‘when are we going to move into our new home?’ For us, the long wait, from the refugee camp almost 30 years ago, to helping to build our new home, is worth it.”