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.