Monday, August 29, 2016

The school full of quotations

Gaselo Central School in Wangduephodrang has left me fascinated, inadvertently though. During my visit to the school last week to teach the students on media literacy, I found it different, distinct.
It’s nothing to do with the school’s facilities and students, but by the way they keep their school. Beautiful quotations and inspiring proverbs were written all over the campus – on the walls, footpaths, footsteps, trees, notice boards and gardens. Everywhere. If there’s any literature paradise on earth, this is it.

Many students who graduated from here remember the school by the quotes. And me too. I still remember, vividly, some of the quotes and inspire me a lot. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Learn from Chuzagang

Every year, when the monsoon hits, Chuzagang is remained cut off from rest of the world. The rains, outrageous in nature and size, always soak and wash away temporary bridges that the villagers build over the infamous Mao River. Subsequent floods destroy the lone feeder road that connects the village with Gelephu town.

Every summer, Chuzagang, a plain gewog under Sarpang dzongkhag, faces a dreadful problem of power blackout - sometimes up to two weeks. Either downpours, or floods, or lightning, or wild elephants destroy the power supply.
A bridge at Mao River built in 2015; washed away by the recent flood
Every rainy season, soil erosion causes a huge loss of fertile farmlands. Excessive rains, sometimes, delay transplantation of rice; thereby, affecting the rice yields. And worse, wild elephants, in a large number, rampage crops and plants.

Well, this year’s monsoon is no different. Like many other places in southern Bhutan, the supposedly one of the worst flood disasters also hit hard Chuzagang. Over 485 households of the gewog staggered and suffered a huge damage, loss.
For days, again it has been cut off after the bridges and feeder road were damaged. The power was affected, farmland damaged, and rice transplantation delayed.

Surprisingly yet, Chuzagang, an understandable worry and frailty aside, has remained absolutely composed and resolute. The villagers didn’t succumb to alarm and cry out for external help. But why? This is exactly what I want to share it here today. 
Chuzagang is the place where I was born and grown up. Since the time I remember about my village, the monsoon rains and Mao River have been a constant problem for us, affecting our agricultural and economic activities and even taking away many human lives.

However, after years of difficulties, losses and sufferings, and living in a constant worry and uncertainty, the villagers have learnt to ensure their own well-being. Most importantly, they have developed a culture of preparedness and resilience.   
Firewood shed
The farmers still collect and store firewood for summer consumption even there’s electricity supply. Before every summer, they buy and store kerosene, petrol and diesel for summer consumption for vehicles and machines (tractors, power tillers and rice mills). Still they store grains (rice, wheat and millet), refined oil, salt, pickles and other necessities.
A household storing rice and other grains that can last for a year
Many households or chiwogs still own and maintain water well or spring water nearby. It ensures clean drinking water when tap water supply is affected or muddied.

Come winter, with renewed hope and optimism, the industrious villagers again build wooden bridges over Moa River and repair and maintain the feeder road. That’s the spirit of the people of Chuzagang. That’s the endurance of my village.
Special note: I am so enormously grateful to our beloved King, Prime Minister and Ministers who have visited the affected sites of flood disasters in Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Samtse and consoled the worried and unsettled people. In fact, the country has suffered hugest of losses; however, at the same time, we’ve seen the greatest of inspiration.