Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dechen, New Beginning

In April I shared a story of a lost girl called Dechen. I called her lost girl because her father never found her. Perhaps he never came looking for her. Barely 9, it was Dechen who went looking for her father who abandoned her after the demise of her mother. She parted with her brother too. She couldn't find them. But she found many families who wanted to keep her as their babysitter. At the end of her futile search she finally landed up with a family that took her to a village in Paro where she spent the over six years.

After discovering the whereabout of her uncle in Thimphu she left Paro. The joy of finding her blood relatives soon faded in the babysitting tug-of-war. She got herself into a construction job and married a co-worker to have a family of her own. She thought that would be the beginning of a good life but the young couple lost their first child and her husband lost his job after returning from his study leave. They took a loan from a friend and it haunted them every month. Dechen just earned enough to pay the monthly interest of 10% while the principle amount of Nu.43,000 kept them sleepless.

That was when I wrote her story in an attempt to find her brother and seek help from kind individuals to free the young couple from the debt. We vaguely heard that her brother was in Mongar but couldn't establish any communication with him. After I published that article I had to meet a member of her 'Paro family' who wasn't so happy. But I explained to them that I was not interested in starting what could be a very ugly legal battle.

I received a few messages from people willing to help Dechen so I called her debtor and tried negotiating with them. By then Nu.41,000 was already paid in interest and they stilled demanded full principle of Nu.43,000. I explained how 10% per month was insane, because legally allowed interest rate can't be more than 15% per annum while theirs came to 120% per annum. I begged them to humanly consider the couple's plight. I offered to pay Nu.30,000 to close the chapter because I got some people to offer that help. The debtor rejected the offer.

Then I asked the ruthless loanshark to take the matter to the court. They, like all loansharks, confidently accepted that because they have all the paperworks to eyewash even the court of law. We lost the case in Dzongkhag court. We couldn't prove to the court that it was a loan taken at 10% per month. We went to High Court and we still lost the case. I knew we would lose because the smart loanshark had all the tools to fool the court. Despite knowing that we still went ahead only to buy us time. I needed time to look for help.

For the last five months I have kept updating on the court proceeding to a Bhutanese lady well-wisher, by the name Tshering Choden, living in New York who offered to help Dechen right from the beginning. And I wrote to my friend Ugay Wangmo also working in New York to help. When the final verdict came I informed Tshering Choden and she offered to send Nu.12,000. Her cousin and husband came to my place to drop the money and meet Dechen and her husband.

My friend Ugay Wangmo immediately started fundraising among her friends in NY, like she always did and sent me Nu.22,100.

Yesterday, 26th September 2016, Dechen's husband handed over Nu.34,500 to their debtors in the presence of court officials and close the chapter to two years of sleeplessness.

I wish to thank Tshering Choden for being their from the beginning and giving me confidence, without your assurance we could have never dare to go to the court. Dechen and her husband are so grateful to you. I have shown your picture to them. Thank you.

I wish to thank my dear friend Ugay Wangmo for being my saviour for countless number of times. Dechen and her husband will always remember you for your kindness. They send their prayers to you and your friends Quen Tsho, Star Lhamo, Finso Om, Phub Gyem, Tshering Dolkar and Tshering Pem for giving them a new beginning. Thank you.
Ugay's fundraising Sheet


Dechen's Husband formally joined Bhutan Toilet Org after months of internship.

*I want to thank my wife for pushing me every day to get this done. I wish you peaceful sleep too now.


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