Deg Nath Neaupaney

St. Johns, NL

In 2006 Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the 6th happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest in the world (based on a global survey). Deg Nath Neaupaney has a different story.

Twenty-year-old Deg Nath Neaupaney spent 18 years of his life living in a refugee camp in Nepal. Originally from Southern Bhutan (South Asia) he was forced from his home and declared a “terrorist” when he was 3 months old. People from southern Bhutan speak a different language, have different cultures, customs and traditions than the rest of the small country, and especially the government. It is because of this that his family was forced to leave their homes and Deg spent his childhood as a refugee. The government didn’t provide citizenship to individuals and families who fled the country for safety, so for much of his life Deg and his family didn’t feel as if they belonged anywhere.

Growing up in a refugee camp meant limited facilities and opportunities. There were many challenges, social justice was never spoken of, and life was often uncertain. As a child, Deg’s heart was moved by his experience and he has grown into a young man who feels obligated to give back to society and himself. It’s because of this that he has dedicated his life to activism and peace.

Deg and his family moved to Canada two years ago to seek a better life. Since immigrating to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Deg has become an active member in his community and can often be found helping his community members with doctor visits amd volunteering for numerous organizations and groups.

“There is no doubt that he contributes to society in just his passion and stamina alone,” said the ESL teacher who nominated him for this campaign.

While in the refugee camps in Nepal, many parents died due to drug use and Deg helped counsel and gave support to the children they left behind. He encouraged them to attend a school provided by the United Nations as well to participate in games and sports. With Deg’s help, children who may have fallen through the cracks succeed in life and were shown a ways to make the best out of any situation.

In Canada, Deg continues to work with Nepalese youth and women, encouraging them to volunteer and participate in programs and organizations in St. John’s. Deg’s leadership at home and abroad is helping to break down barriers of diversity and inequality.

Deg hopes to see a future “with justice and rights and not a world with conflict. My future vision is to see happiness and peace for all.”