Dhan and Chandra Tamang (and Suk, Dhan’s mother) were born in the country of Bhutan. Located north of Myanmar and Bangladesh, on the eastern edge of the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and is governed as a Buddhist theocracy.
In 1988, Bhutan launched a national policy demanding that everyone adhere completely to Buddhist traditions, mandating that all citizens of Bhutan become one in language, dress and faith. Violent protests and ethnic antagonism broke out, and thousands of Bhutan’s Nepalese residents fled to Nepal. Among those fleeing were Dhan, Chandra, and Suk, who for the next 18 years, found themselves permanently entrenched in a refugee camp. Conditions in the refugee camp were hardly even basic, and often inadequate. They lived in bamboo shacks and used outdoor latrines; malnutrition and disease were overwhelming issues in the camps; food was provided by UNHCR. It was in the refugee camp that Dhan and Chandra Tamang were married and had their first son, Dinesh.
In 2007, the Tamangs applied for refugee status in the US. They were processed through the International Organization for Migration and landed in St Louis in June 2009. They knew minimal English when they arrived and Dhan was provided a job, but he soon realized that language was a major obstacle to providing for his family. Through the International Institute of St Louis, Dhan received some ESL (English as a Second Language) training while they lived in an apartment close to the Institute. It was challenging to have ESL training and work at the same time. They had to pay back their travel expenses and begin paying for their rent and utilities within 6 months of arrival.
Some time soon after, Central hosted a Thanksgiving worship service and meal to which many Nepali refugees were invited, with transportation provided from New City Fellowship South by Dwight McKinney and Central members. It was at that Thanksgiving worship and meal that many refugee families were met and contacts were made for future gardening. The Tamangs were one of those families.
The Tamangs say that Christians welcomed them immediately by providing basic necessities and visiting their family in their home, even when they had nothing. Volunteers with the Harvest ministry visited weekly and spent hours gardening together, continued with tea in the winter months, and shared food, as well as a Genesis Bible study about Adam and Eve in the garden. Sara, Marjorie, Liz, and Deb became part of the family, celebrating births, birthdays, 4th of Julys, and more. Dhan states, “we became a family”.
Since then, their children have come consistently to Backyard Bible club and Kid’s Night out. They know the Gospel message and can recite it, although at present continue to be Hindu. Gratefully, seeds have been planted and God’s word does not come back to Him void.
Dhan and Chandra Tamang live in Affton, with their 3 boys, Dinesh, Deepesh and Diwas, and mother Suk.
If you would like to learn more about Harvest and hear how you can get involved in this local outreach ministry, please join us on Saturday, May 4, from 10am-12pm for a special meeting/training event.