Realizing a dream

Former Nepalese refugee finds success as a nurse in Halifax

Realizing a dream

Januka Adhikari realized her dream of becoming a nurse after coming to Canada from Nepal in 2010

“It was tough, coming to a new place and starting over. I always wanted to be a nurse and it was hard, but I made it through. I love what I do and where I live.” - Januka Adhikari

Fast Fact

Born in Bhutan, Januka and her family were forced to flee to Nepal when she was just two years old.

Januka Adhikari and her husband Bhagawat are happy to call Halifax home

When Januka Adhikari arrived in Halifax in 2010 with her husband and his family, all she had was a suitcase and a dream. 

Born in Bhutan, Januka and her family were forced to flee to Nepal when she was just two years old. For the next two decades, they lived in one of the South Asian country’s many refugee camps, without either citizenship or the rights of Nepalese citizens.

“As a young girl, I wanted to be a nurse,” says the 26-year-old Januka. “It was very hard to do in Nepal because I was not a citizen and would have had to pay a lot of money to get considered, and we didn’t have that.”

A new home

In 2010, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was working with seven countries to find new homes for refugees in Nepal. Although Januka’s parents headed to the United States, she travelled with her husband, Bhagawat, and his family to Canada.

“It was mixed emotions,” Januka recalls. “I was excited to begin a new life, but sad to leave what we knew and who we knew.”

Once in Halifax, Januka, her husband and his family faced new challenges. They had difficulty communicating at first, encountered weather conditions they had never experienced before and wanted to work towards their high school diplomas.

Januka wanted to be in school but soon discovered that, due to her age – 20 at the time – she would not be able to complete all three years.

“I was sad and depressed,” Januka says. “I wanted to get an education.”

That’s when her school guidance counsellor told her about the NSCC Adult Learning Program (ALP) at the IT Campus. After attending a College Get Started event, she knew that was what she wanted and applied.

“When I was accepted to ALP, I was so excited,” Januka says. “When I arrived there, I felt I was at home.”

Januka completed the program in one year and decided to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

Pursuing her dream

Januka enrolled in the Practical Nursing program in 2013, but the program was not without challenges.

“It was hard for me at times. I was worried about my English and sometimes felt I couldn’t do it,” Januka explains. “But my husband encouraged me. He told me I could do it; he was very supportive.”

“I didn’t want her to quit,” says Bhagawat. “She worked so hard and had overcome many challenges. I knew she could do it.”

Januka graduated in June 2015 and is now working in the Veterans Memorial building at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. Meanwhile, Bhagawat, also an ALP graduate, is working toward a Business Administration diploma at Waterfront Campus. In 2015, the couple became Canadian citizens. For the first time in more than 20 years, they had citizenship.

Reflecting on her journey, Januka is happy things have worked out.

“It was tough, coming to a new place and starting over. I always wanted to be a nurse and it was hard, but I made it through. I love what I do and where I live.”

03/12/16

“It was tough, coming to a new place and starting over. I always wanted to be a nurse and it was hard, but I made it through. I love what I do and where I live.” - Januka Adhikari

Fast Fact

Born in Bhutan, Januka and her family were forced to flee to Nepal when she was just two years old.

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