MYAGDI, July 20: Bahadur Paija of Bim village always wanted to go to the USA. However, not even in his nightmares he had ever thought that his trip to the country could be so risky, so costly and tedious. It took him four months to reach to the country and on the way; he passed through several other countries. Paija had, of course, not gone there through the regular flight routes.
“It took us four months to reach to America. We had narrow escape from death dozens of times. I had to spend nearly five million rupees,” Paija, who's still in the USA told over phone.
His group consisted of fifteen Nepalese. They started the journey from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and got to the USA through India - Brazil - Ethiopia - Bolivia - Peru - Ecuador - Cambodia - Panama - Costa Rica - Honduras - Guatemala, Mexico and finally to USA. Paija said that he and his friends had to hand over huge amount of money to agents in each countries and that was how the cost turned out to be around Rs 5 million at the end. “For making the arrangements for the next destination, the agents would ask for money again and again,” he said.
Paija has experience of bribing the Indian police while he was in India. When the group reached Brazil, their passports and other documents were torn into pieces and thrown away. “We had to stay in Brazil for five days without food and drink. We were starving to death and yet no choice other than to follow the instruction of our leader,” Paija said. He shared that there he came across rogues who patrolled streets in police uniforms adding that if anyone resisted, they would be killed right away. “We saw dead bodies on the way and we could guess what might have happened to them,” he added.
According to Paija, gangs of looters are rampant at the sea and jungle routes to the USA. And they snatch away mobile sets, money and even outfits worn by the travelers. “They are criminal people and there is no security at all,” Paija narrated.
Khim Gharti, another member in the team from Myadgi added that going to the USA through the illegal route is nothing than inviting scores of troubles and sometimes even death. “The ways people are killed by the criminals speak everything about the situation. Along with that some die due to starvation, too,” Gharti said. He added that an Indian which was in his group had died on the way due to starvation. “And we had to abandon his dead body just lying there. There was nothing you could do.”
Gharti said during their journey they came across human skeletons and stinking corpses. Similarly, there saw many people who were sick and some who seemed to have lost their mental balance.
“More than the money we had to given to the smugglers, the unbearable emotional pain that we had to go through during the journey was the worst part,” state another member of this group adding that making such journeys might probably the worst situation one can put himself into.
Even after reaching the USA, their miseries did not end. More trouble was waiting for them there. “You reach America by risking your life a hundred times through the route. And when you reach the much coveted destination, you realize that your troubles are not going to end anytime soon,” Paija said. Many Nepalis who have been to the USA through such routes have chosen to commit suicide and many have gone completely insane in the USA, Paija said recounting the tales he heard en-route to the USA.
Paija said that getting into the USA from Mexico was the costliest of the arrangements they had paid for. “We did not have the documentation to get into the USA and agents kept asking for more cash to prepare the necessary documentation even after offering five million rupees,” he said urging none to make such journey and go through the troubles that he and his group had to. He said women are even more vulnerable to exploitation during such journeys to the USA. They are exploited sexually many times by the time they land in the USA.
Even businessmen, teachers lured to USA
American dreams have not attracted just those who are having shaky career or financial problems in Nepal. The dream attracts even those who have a very good financial standing here.
Rajaram Sharma, principal of Purushottam Primary School in Okharbot spent Rs 3.6 million to get into the USA through the help of smugglers. On the way he was stuck in Nigeria for several days. Kamal Dhungana is another teacher who left the job for the American Dream. A Mathematics teacher at Beni Community School, Dhungana used to earn over Rs 100,000 per month just through tuition classes. But like Sharma, he too left it all for the American Dream.
The above cases are just representative. A lot Myagdi residents have flown to USA by taking loan of around Rs 5 millions on high interest rates. “They think there is tree of money in USA. The government should seriously work towards raising awareness among people and discourage them from making such dangerous and risky journey to America,” commented Ramji Subedi, professor at Myagdi Multiple College.