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Sulaxchhya’s journey from Nepal refugee camp comes full circle

Friday 3 March 2023

After a relocation to Adelaide and a successful SACE, Sulaxchhya hopes to give back to her community by pursuing obstetrics.

Web Content Display (Global)

Sulaxchhya Magar completed her SACE as one of the top academic achievers at Trinity College, a feat even more impressive considering her challenging childhood. Sulaxchhya was born to Bhutanese parents in a Nepal refugee camp.

“We didn't have technology,” Sulaxchhya said. “We did not have any kind of electronics, devices or anything. People were dying because there was no toilet. A lot of people were untreated or waiting in line to meet a doctor that is not even qualified. A lot of people used to die in hospital, not getting proper medication. They were sleeping on the floors and waiting for the for the doctor to call them but there were not enough doctors.”

Whilst the family managed to move to India for three years after her birth, they returned to the same camp in Nepal for another seven years, where Sulaxchhya lived until she was 10. A UN agreement to resettle Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees meant Sulaxchhya and her family moved to Adelaide. She’s embraced her new home, but it hasn’t come without challenges.

“I started with zero, I didn’t know anything. All the kids are learning mathematics and science and everything, and I had to learn my ABCDs. I did not know how the Australian curriculum worked and still I don't have as much information as the people here, but I now know a little bit more. But when I started, I started at zero and it was really really difficult.”

Across seven formative years spent in a refugee camp, Sulaxchhya not only witnessed difficulties across the camp but more specifically closely experienced them through her mother.

“In the refugee camp, my mum struggled. We always had a shortage of doctors. Doctors don't want to [be there] because the environment was not good. The payment was not good probably. Once a month a gynaecologist used to come to help people deliver babies. Most of the time? No.”

Watching under qualified people try to help women through childbirth in a poorly equipped refugee camp had a profound effect on Sulaxchhya’s eventual future in Adelaide.

“I wanted to be a gynaecologist because my mum suffered a lot [in the refugee camp]. My mum always says, ‘if this country helped you, of course have to serve Australia because they have given us a place and this opportunity’ and of course I'm going to be an Australian and serve Australia, but I want to go [to Nepal] if they need my help. I want to go there and like financially help them or serve for a couple of months and financially support the doctors who are helping those people.”

It’s a full circle moment she managed to carve out with a successful journey through the SACE, now clearly fluent in English and setting high standards in her academic work. Whilst Sulaxchhya is the driving force behind her own success, she attributes much of the success to her support network and teachers.

“I think that without them I would not be here. A lot of it's about all the things working in unity. You can't be alone because it will only work in unity and there needs to be more people.