Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rainbow Over Yangthang

I am happy to announce that the Yangthang READ Centre was formally launched on May 27, 2015. This day shall be remembered as the beginning of a new era in my village and as the beginning of many good changes to come. Village elders came to me and placed their thumbs on my nose in appreciation.

They knew that the centre was funded and built by READ Bhutan and I had nothing significant to do with it but they were simply happy with me because they think I was one among very few who kept in touch with the roots back in the village and done something beyond mere annual visits.

With completion of Yangthang READ Centre, READ Bhutan has completed seven centres across Bhutan in their effort to improve quality of rural lives. On behalf of my village I have expressed our gratitude to READ Bhutan team, and I have asked Mr. Stevens, the READ Global’s Asia Regional Director, to convey the same to our sponsors, the students of Singapore American School (SAS), Singapore.

The centre in my village, like all other enters, has a Library, a Computer Lab, an Audiovisual Room, a Conference Room, a Women Section, a Child Section and an outdoor park. These seven services are like the colours of the rainbow that has finally fallen in my otherwise backward village.
The Rainbow

As believers of signs and symbolism, we were overjoyed when during the opening ceremony my village was haloed by a real rainbow. I personally took this as a very good omen.


Once Upon a Time

Then ....
and Finally now: The READ Centre
The Children in my village and villages nearby can visit the centre any time to use the service or just use the space for completing their assignments. Preschool children can come and play at the centre with educational manipulative while the parents are busy working in the field and forest. The elderly people can sit on the soft cushions in the AV room and watch TV all day (Most households don't have TV). And there will be regular training for women empowerment through skill training such as knitting, weaving and tailoring that will improve the quality of their lives. Health education for general public and creative sessions for children will happen from time to time. All good things are coming. 

The Library. Seen in pic are Mr. Stevens, Ms.Karma Lhazom and Mr. Nawang P.

Celebration

The Thee Builders telling their tales
Our Funders, the students of Singapore American School (SAS), Singapore. Pic: Ganesh, READ Bhutan

During their visit in Spring. Pic Ganesh, READ Bhutan
I was given to speak at the end of the opening program during which I spoke a bit about the kind of childhood I had in the village. Though we were connected with road even before I was born our lifestyle was very primitive, and the kind of childhood games we played could shock anybody today. When I left my village to study in Paro, I was already in grade two but I still struggled with alphabets. It took me many years to catch up with the rest of the children of my age.

Another worrying factor in my village was the number of school dropouts. It's every family's good dream to see their children do well and live a meaningful life but somehow most of our children find it hard to cope with the rest of the students in their schools and finally give up and return to the village. 

Now I am hopeful that the centre will provide all the opportunities and exposure the lucky children get to my village children and make the next generation of Yangtobs ready the any kind of future that awaits them beyond our village.

My Special gratitude to my dear friend Nawang Phuntsho, through whom I knew about READ Bhutan and its activities, and for helping me and my village right from the beginning; Mr. Ganesh Chhetri for being their on the ground and working with the villagers during the entire period, and for all the positive energy he has shared with my folks; Ms. Karma Lhazom, the country director for being very supportive of the projects from day one. In fact her first official visit after her appointment was to my village. May the blessings of my villages elders and the local deities be with you throughout your lives. 

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