Sunday, January 26, 2014

My village, my responsibility

I’m very proud to post this story on my blog. The story of joy that I gained from giving it back to my village. In a small measure though. And here, my heart melts with an overwhelming joy and happiness - perhaps the purest of joy that I had ever felt.
The 4-day long Children Program that I initiated and organized with the support from my niece Lisa and nephew Salman and the READ Bhutan and Chuzagang Agricultural Farmers Co-operative ended successfully this weekend. This program is the first contribution that I initiated for my village, my community.

My village, Chuzagang (in Gelephu), is still considered as a remote village. Over 487 households in the village, people live a hard peasantry life. Without motorable road, we still carry loads on our backs and walk two hours to reach Gelephu town.

Many years ago, I had soared out away from this village, from the hard life. I got lucky. Because I got education. Good in studies, I had passed each class (standard) in the schools and college and got a civil service job.

But other village children are not so lucky like me. These children are always burdened with working excessively in the fields. The parents (due to lack of awareness) prefer their children helping them back in the farms than sending them to the schools. Due to this, the children do not get adequate time and guidance in their studies. So every year, many children drop out of the schools. Also, deprived of educational programs in Chuzagang, the children are generally very shy with low self-esteem and confidence.

However, I’m a proud man today. A degree certificate in my name, I’ve a dignified government job. I don’t till land. Neither do I’ve to sweat in the summer heat, nor do I get to drench in the monsoon rain. Literally speaking, I live a sophisticated and happy life.            

But what “happy life” or “pride” should I say that is in me when my own fellow-villagers still struggle back in the village? Should one consider the “pride” comes to you when you become more successful than others?

My village and my fellow-villagers need me now – my love, my knowledge, my support and my expertise. Even in a small way. They don’t ask me, but I can sense it, instinctively. And I always believe that our small contributions means a lot for them like each brick that makes a house.

I’m never a proud man or a true son of this village until I do something for my village and my fellow-villagers. Truthfully speaking, this village has given me so much. This is the place where I was born and grew up and got my early education. And it’s our natural responsibility that we (educated and “prosperous” people) return and give back to our own community to make it better, prosperous community.      
So this 4-day long program for 46 children of my village, Chuzagang, is intended to empower them with necessary information and skills so that they can realize the importance of education. We have also involved the gewog leaders, parents and officials from different agencies in the program to create awareness on positive development of the village children.        

I know that I cannot do great things. I cannot donate money in millions; I cannot impact our country’s policies. But I can initiate small projects, like this one, for my community. One day, these 46 children, when they grow up educated and prosperous, can also give back to their community. I believe that many small contributions can make a great difference.  
Sangay Tshering, the Gup of Chuzagang Gewog, graced the closing of the program. The program was conducted from January 21-24, 2014 at Read Bhutan Community Library and Resource Centre in Chuzagang.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Giving back

Three months back, I actually started planning to organize this children program in my village,  Chuzargang, Gelephu. In Thimphu, then, I talked to the officials of the READ Bhutan and Chuzargang Agricultural Farmers Cooperative about the program. They permitted me to organize the program and assured me all kinds of supports. 
Then immediately I looked for funding support from a few businessmen in Thimphu. They, originally from Chuzargang, have contributed stationery and other materials. 

I have two committed young volunteers. My niece Lisa and nephew Salman. So we just began the 4-day long Children Program from January 21, 2013 at READ Bhutan Centre in Chuzargang in collaboration with the staff of READ Bhutan and Chuzagang Agricultural Farmers Cooperative. We expected about 20 participants, but was quite surprised when more than 45 children turned up for the program. 
The program provides them different exciting and fun activities. Reading, painting, story telling, poem recitation, movie screenings, and competition. 

I initiated this program in Chuzargang as I found that rural children are deprived of educational programs during their vacation. Because of this they have low self-esteem and they lack confidence. This program aims to provide them skills, knowledge and recreational facilities. 
Moreover, I grew up in this village. And this village has given me so much - education, wisdom, values, safety and more importantly, the belongingness. By organizing this program for the children of Chuzargang, I am giving just a small thing back to my village, my community.
After this program, I hope that these children, when they grow up, can also contribute back to the village. This is our village and it's our natural responsibility to enhance the positive development of our village children and the entire village.
With two young volunteers. Everyday we have to walk two hours to reach the Center to  conduct the program

Note: Sorry for the errors in the post. I am using my phone to type and post here.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


10 days. That I've been living here in my village of Chuzagang. With my family. And here,  I feel that I am living in a different place, the place of timelessness.

I don't get to keep the track of days of the week. Date too. We forget it all. If needs arise, we ask people about it. 

Life in my village, the perfect peasantry life, is not dictated by time and appointments, but by intuition and nature. Every morning, I wake up by the alarm of rooster's cry. It's quite amazing. Our meals and works, according to the sun's position and stars up in the sky. The seasons so announced by the kinds of wild birds' arrivals and departure.

I am very much enjoying each piece of time here with my parents. I grew dark, like those villagers, my skin burnt and my limbs hardened coz of working every day in the field. 

We have here no TV, no internet and the 3G service very disruptive. To get 3G service in my phone,  I have to walk to certain areas in here. It takes almost half day to complete posting a single post on my blog.

However, to keep myself abreast with the world outside, I always listen to my father's radio. I started liking some of the BBS radio jockeys already. Also, I listened to BBC radio.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

To spend time with my beloved ones

I am here in Chuzargang on a month long holiday.  A little village, it's a full two hours walk from Gelephu. It's a special place, and so are its people, at least to me. For, it's the place where my patents live.  For, it's the place where I was born, attended school and grew up.

So this year, this fresh year, I feel the urgent need to spend a small time with my patents and my beloved ones. The world is fragile, I believe. All we have is who we have. When I am with my own patents and siblings, standing close, it feels way better and safe.  More importantly, it makes our life much simpler and wonderful, the one that we can't find elsewhere.

By the way, I am blogging using my phone. It's very slow and difficult, but I am loving it. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mobile library bus for the book lovers

My heart leapt with joy when I first spotted the mobile library bus parked near my apartment in Motithang yesterday. Instantaneously, I ran into the bus and was filled with boundless happiness to see over a thousand books inside the bus, in the book shelves. It has mostly children books, but also has books for adults like that of novels and self-help and management books. 

I was so very excited that I called those children playing around the park and road to visit the mobile library. As they entered the bus, they expressed their shock at what they have witnessed. Wonderful books inside the bus, oh. For them too, it’s simply unbelievable. They jumped, happiness spiraled in them.
We were 20 in about a dozen of minutes, nestling in different corners and shelves, browsing and reading books. All the readers were young, except me. Along with them, this group of young readers, I picked up a book and read excitedly.

When they read, how sweet, their eyes sparkled and their faces glowed in a smile of joy. They savoured great pleasures from reading the books and expressed constant amazement as they opened every new page. It gave me a rejuvenated feeling. So I walked around and talked to them. I befriended them, each one.
The bus left, but we stayed back there, still talking. You know what we have so much to talk about, so many things in common. My new found young friends - the friends made through the mobile library bus, the books – are all ardent readers of books.

We exchanged a small talk and there I discovered that we share similar passion and thoughts – that we read books, we buy them, and we love the fragrance of books. We celebrate books because we are the lovers of stories, lovers of words. Above all, we protect books.
Again and again we promised to meet next time, at the same place, in the same library bus. We departed, so grateful, for we found new book lovers, the book friends through this wonderful initiative of Thimphu Thromde and Save the Children.

For your information, this mobile library bus travels to Changedaphu, Motithang Children Park, Centenary Park, Police Camp, Serbithang, Olakha, Lungtenphug and Taba Army Camp on the weekends. The bus is manned by the staff of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library and donated by Save the Children. It also provides membership: Nu 100 for adults; Nu 50 for children and students.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A small thing with big heart

Out in the open, on the way to my office, I came across a group of 6 boys abusing drug (dendrite). It was in the last week of the month of November 2013. I observed them carefully and went closer to them. It’s very painful to see this.

They even didn’t notice me standing there as they were so high on drug. I need to stop these boys from taking more drugs, that’s the first thought that crossed my mind instantly.  

So I intervened. I asked them to stop it. But they just ignored me and kept on inhaling the drug.
Then I grabbed their hands and snatched three dendrite-filled plastics and one 250 ml fevicol container (dendrite inside). I pushed all in my gho’s pocket. This was the time they reacted, loudly and rudely. And I could sense fury radiating from each one of their bodies.   

“Fuck, jedha, give it back to me!” one of the boys demanded, with a disgusted look on his face.

I shook my head, and he turned back screaming, “Awww! You never know how much we had struggled to get it. Give it back, dhaaa.”

Others looked me straight in the eye, anger and frustration written all over their faces. Not long after that they mobbed me - a few rubbed their hands each other, others aiming to hit me.

I realized, then, that I could be mauled at anytime. So I walked out of this drugged group of young men. But they started following me, in a gang, hissing all dirty words and readying to attack me. To me, it felt like a bad rap. But I digested it. For they are youth. For it’s all for their good purpose.

Immediately, I ran to my office. But I straightaway went to the office cafeteria and ordered tea. As I sipped on my tea, disturbed and exhausted, this group of boys came searching for me. This time I became absolutely nervous.  

All of them, six boys, marched towards me and stood in front of me.

“Acho, we are here to apologize. Sorry for everything. We will never do it again,” a lean boy walked forward and apologized to me. They have become all sober.

It touched me and I grew teary. I pulled chairs and asked them to sit around me. We had tea and momo together, cracking jokes and sharing laughter.

Meanwhile, I asked them jokingly, “I think this is your first time?” One responded it’s his second try, others’ third and fourth. They also confessed that they bought the drug from a labourer’s camp in Thimphu.

After that I invited them to my office. In my office, we chitchatted. And there I discovered their interest. They really love playing futsal, and they too have a team. I discussed with them about organizing a futsal competition. They really liked my idea and even they wanted to help me. I took their names and contact address and promised them that I would contact them very soon.
Later that day, I talked about this competition with my office colleagues. Initially getting the fund worried me, but I was very lucky that my office and a donor agency committed to support this competition.

After one month, we organized the competition with support from 40 youth volunteers. And it’s very successful. More than 126 young boys took part in this competition including those six boys. 
The winners
So here I share with you these lines by Mitch Albom,

“People who do bad things are always around bad things. We must provide them an option to do good things.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

In writing the first page of the year 2014

Today, this morning, I just sit here, outside on my veranda. It’s quiet and frosty. There is nothing much to see, but the barren valley of Thimphu - the colour siphoned out, trees naked, bushes disappeared and the air extremely chill. The people are yet to come out for their office, students are on winter vacation. Almost instantly, the sun starts rising on the morning of the day; more accurately, the first day of the New Year. 2014. 

I shiver here in the cold and pull my sweater tighter. Leaning on the veranda, I rest my cheek on my hand and watch the gentle morning sunlight leisurely flooding Thimphu valley fetching the first warmth of the morning, of the year. Right below my veranda, a flock of pigeons is huddling on the ground, resting their wings and receiving the sun heat.

As I stay on here overcome with both excitement and wonder, I receive a text message from my soul friend. It’s the New Year wish. He too attached a wonderful quote. It reads,

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” 

I believe it's said by Edith Lovejoy Pierce. So today, we’ve simply opened the first “unspoiled page” of the year 2014, isn’t it? Here, I’ve just begun to writing it down in the pages of this New Year, of the book of my life. However, this time, I am writing more carefully, choosing my words with care. And I wish to fill the pages of this New Year, my life, with more colourful, honestly raw and blissful words, with grateful and magical feelings.     

I know that I will struggle in putting down words in the year’s book. Because the course of my life ahead is certainly not always a smooth ride as I believe that our life’s journey will take us to mountain tops, sometimes through hills and through plains.

But I will pause and contemplate, all that to say. Ponder. To listen to the inklings of my heart. I will write slowly to catch up on what is really important and truly enjoyable to decorate the book of time, the book of my life.

The cycle of land, plant and season will take its own time and this barren Thimphu valley that I see from here, my veranda, will once again spring into blossoms as all things do. I know that. I know that too well. Oh, how I wish to write about all this - seasons, colours, beauty, change.

Dear readers, there’s still more to say, yet I cannot think of anything else to write here. Perhaps I’m too excited, for today’s the New Year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!