Every year on this day and about this time of the day I open my blog and recount the year when the rest of the world go to party. I would take great pride in the number of articles I have written and but this year I can't do that because I have underperformed. Somewhere among great people I lost my confidence to write in my own style because they wanted me to write like scholars. I failed. I need to get back soon.
But looking beyond my blog I think 2015 has been the best year of my life so far. Perhaps I have matured enough to find happiness outside my blog. Earlier no matter what I have achieved during the day my happiness always depended on what I wrote on my blog at night but this is different now. I am happy looking back on what I have achieved.
I will always remember 2015 as the year I solved Rubik's Cube. Over the months I have bettered my time and now I can do it in less than two minutes. It's only matter of time before I master it but I have gift my cube to my nephew who has already beaten my record.
The other things I would like to remember from 2015 are Yangthang READ Centre, which READ Bhutan opened in my village in the spring. This I am sure will change the quality of life in my village and therefore the future of it. To sustain the activities of the centre and engage our youth meaningfully I have founded Yangthang Village Youth Club. This club will compliment and give wings to the facilities in the centre.
My dream to see clean toilets in Bhutan was shared by a group of very close friends and we made a big beginning this year with Bhutan Toilet Organization's Nation wide campaign that involved over 300 volunteers from across the country. We have set up our office with support from many people and now we are ready for more than just cleaning.
And finally before the year ended I had one last thing to take care of which began in 2014, the production of an audiobook. With permission from author Kunzang Choden I and my 12 year old student Sonam Chuki began recording the novel Dawa-The Story of a Stray Dog in Bhutan last year. M-Studio did four days of recording with the little girl and took months to put together the three hours audiobook. iBest Institute took from there and helped in producing 50 CD. From the author to the recording studio to the CD producer and the cover designer Che Dorji, none of them bothered about a penny, it was all labour of love.
It was launched last week at Camp RUF during Karma Choden's reading session, and later the book was played every night as bedtime story. While this first Bhutanese audiobook could be a great educational material for all students and especially the ninth graders who have the novel in their syllabus I saw that it's a priceless gift to the visually impaired students. Therefore I have asked Sonam Chuki to send a copy to Khaling Munseling School as gift from her side among other schools.
I am yet to present a copy to author herself. We are meeting in January and I will let her listen to Sonam Chuki reading her book. If she finds it worth I am going to gift the recording to her.
Monday, December 21, 2015
My village Yangthang was connected by road half a century years ago but it didn't change us much, other than the occasional bus services people walked most of time. There was road but people didn’t have cars to use it. Twenty years ago electricity illuminated our village. The last two decades with road and electricity both couldn't quite transform my stubborn village. We remained backward in our ways of life and in our outlook to life.
The small generation of educated lot had to leave the village, and some of them who had strong influence over the village couldn't quite reconnect to the village realities, therefore fancied the idea of maintaining our village like a living museum- after all how much can they do during their week long annual visits?
Over the years my generation of educated lot thrived and we were bigger in number but we too had to leave the village. Our village still remained a museum and we were mere annual tourists who only dreamt of bigger changes and better lives. We were disappointed but to our credit our tradition and our values were well preserved, we were harmless as much as we were helpless.
Then the television made a grand entry. Few households that had TV became the popular hub of social gathering, our sleep pattern changed, our conversation lessened and overnight change became evident. It was at least serving a good purpose of giving people a common place and common subject to dwell on after their hard day's works until every house hold got their own TV sets. Then it isolated families. People stopped coming out, they talking about issues in Indian serial homes rather than issues at home and in the village. Younger generation showed lesser interest in the village affairs thereby risking the natural course of transition of tradition from one generation to another.
Just when we thought the worst have happened the smartphones revolution began and this time it didn’t take long before the urban wind blew into the villages. With huge literate population living in the village the social lives became virtual just like in towns. That’s a dangerous trend invading the most potential generation in our village at the moment.
|During the Launch|
While it is tempting to force some solutions out of books, we must remember the classic egg breaking analogy which goes- if an egg is broken by outside force, life ends. If broken by inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from inside. We are more or less mere outsiders in our village and in their generation. If meaningful change has to happen it has to come from among themselves. We can only facilitate.
One of the significant facilitation was construction of the READ center in my village. It’s the first step toward an enlightened community. The facility is serving its purpose and beyond, and it’s continuously developed to suit the need of the community. It’s interesting to see how our people’s expectation from the READ center is changing and growing. At times they push the librarians to their wits end and thus we lost one librarian.
1. Rotary Club of Thimphu: A computer set for club works
2. Deki Om: 45 pieces of club T Shirts
3. Karma Yangzom: 45 pieces of club caps
4. Dzongkhag Election office: In electing club captains.
The two individual donors are from our own village living away. Like them there are many successful folks living away from home that I hope will support the village through the club. I have received commitments from some friends for certain initiatives and I’m also looking forward to capacity building and life skills training for the members from READ Bhutan, VAST, BCMD, and YDF.
Some of the strategies outlined for the club are;
1. Volunteerism in the Village
Yangthang Village Youth Club intends to serve the village community to address local issues and needs in the areas of health, environmental sustainability, cultural preservation, and socioeconomic development.
These activities include but are not limited to:
· Conduct advocacy programs to promote health and hygiene in the village
· Provide helping hands during cultivation and harvest
· Take initiatives to manage village waste (behavioral change, waste segregation, decomposing, recycling)
· Take ownership of common spaces in the village and initiate maintenance works to ensure the sustainability of the common spaces: Lhakhang, Archery ground, Electric fencing, Bridges, Chortens, Flood retention wall, Drainage, Road, Drinking water source, etc.
· Volunteer and provide support during village events
· Plan and undertake the building of small social infrastructures: Dustbins, Pit, Menchhu, Fencing, Wall, Rest House, Footpath, Water supply, etc.
· Reforestation of barren land along the river
2. Educational Enrichment
In addition to civic engagement, the Yangthang Village Youth Club also provides educational platforms that enrich the learning experiences of the youth members. These activities include:
· Initiate a comprehensive village reading program
· First Friday For Folk Tales: Invite a village elder to tell folk tales to children. Children will also attempt to rewrite the folk tales.
· Sunday Reading Hour: One Sunday in a month, Children gather at the READ center to read for one hour together.
· Sunday Book Talk: Another Sunday in a month, few selected children will talk about the books they read. Their reviews will be display on the wall for a month.
· Initiate a youth mentorship program
Older youth members can provide mentorship to younger members in terms of academics and other areas of youth development
· Initiate a Spiritual Life speakers program
Invite a local monk or nun to come speak to the youth once every month to explain some religious concept or lead a short prayer/meditation
3. Youth Leadership
Lastly, the Yangthang Village Youth Club provides the youth members with the opportunity to learn key leadership skills through the club’s management and development. Club captains will be elected annually through standard electoral process. This not only enables the club members to practice the principles of democratic citizenship, but also enables the elected youth captains to step up and provide guidance and voice for the club members. All club members will also learn to raise and generate funds to support the club’s programs and sustainability.
Lastly, many of the club meetings and activities will be held in the READ Center in the Yangthang READ Center. The club members will be responsible for ensuring that the Yangthang READ Center facilities that they use are well-maintained, tidy, and well-utilized.
By PaSsu at 10:47 am
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
After I heard the history of Terton Sherab Mebar I found the attribution of origin of Mebar Tsho’s name to Terton Pema Lingpa not so convincing. The popular narrative has it that after Pema Lingpa reappeared from the river with the treasures and the butter lamp still burning, the portion of river came to be known as Mebar Tsho, meaning burning lake because of the burning lamp.
|Picture Courtesy: TCB|
If the name of the lake originated from Pema Lingpa’s time, then why wasn’t it ‘Marme Tsho’ (Butter Lamp Lake)? Or why not ‘Terma Tsho’ (Hidden Treasure Lake)? Or ‘Pema Tsho’? Why did it have to be Mebar Tsho when the lake hadn’t burned in any sense?
Discussing about Mebar Tsho, it’s hard to forget the recent incident where a French tourist and his guide lost their lives. The tourist slipped into the lake accidentally but the guide jumped intentionally to rescue his guest who safety was his priority. Even though the rescue failed and he had to pay with his own life, his bravery and selflessness in performing his duty will be remembered by time.
The highest form of tribute we can pay to brave young man is never let another incident happen. But unfortunately, going by the record nine lives were lost in the lake in recent times and still no safety measures were put in place to prevent further accidents. Some people are even talking about closing down Mebar Tsho to tourist, as if putting in safety measure is so difficult.
After the incident when concerned authorities were playing blame game and counting excuses I was wondering how a presence of a throw-rope and ring buoy could have saved the lives of both the tourist and the guide. It will only cost less than Nu.4000. While authorities are still designing elaborate safety infrastructure that would take ages I would like to urge them to keep those two simple lifeguard equipment handy at the lake, for that matter even at the swimming pools and other water bodies where human activities happen.
By PaSsu at 2:59 am