Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bedside Toilet- Dignity and Desperation

Bedside Toilet Borrowing program was created at Bhutan Toilet Org in 2017, almost accidentally. We had four units of portable potty, which were bought to be used as guest toilets during Highland Festival in Laya, but after realising that the potties wouldn’t be suitable for huge public events we kept them in the office corner for quite sometime.


One day, I got a call from Aue Kuenga Tenzin Supe asking me if I could help his dying friend deal with his toilet trouble. His friend was fighting lung cancer and didn’t have the strength to cover the distance between his bed and the toilet. That’s when we discovered where our potty could be used. We sent him a set immediately. His friend called to thank me after receiving the toilet, and I could hear him gasping for air as he struggled between his words. He told me how the toilet next to his bed had solved his nightmare. We felt so sorry to hear about his death after some months but we took solace in the fact that we were able to comfort him in his last days.

From then on we began promoting the potty as “Bedside Toilet” for people who are bedridden due to sickness, disability and old age. We let people borrow the toilets for free, only to be returned when the patient recovers or,god-forbid, dies. On January 30 2017, we put it up on our Facebook Page and by mid day the remaining three sets were taken. We continued receiving calls in the following days, which opened out eyes to one of the gravest problems that is hidden in the corners of many homes.

We learned the desperation of the family members who had to deal with bedridden people at home, some for as long as ten years. They shared how dealing with toilet troubles causes all the awkwardness and resentment over a period of time, especially when daughter is the caregiver of a father, a son for mother. Besides the health hazards due to poor hygiene the most painful part is losing dignity and self respect as one become incapable of managing their own toilet routine, and people around show signs of disgust at you.

Our initiative was to empower them to manage their own toilet by taking toilet right next to their bed, so that even in the worst case at least it can be handled with little assistance from the caregiver. The toilet set has its own flush system and an airtight waste tank that can serve for a week without having to empty. It’s completely odourless one it’s flushed and the valve is closed.
Training Jojo Dorji how to use it

With assistance from some well-wishers, ShaMa Foundation, Pema Seldon and Dasho Sangay R Dorji, we brought five more units in the following months, but like the first batch they were taken almost immediately. We then started compiling list of requests we received. The numbers were overwhelming and we were helpless. So we submitted project proposals to few organisations, who unfortunately rejected it.
The Five Units supported by ShaMa Foundation Pema Seldon and Dasho Sangay R
Just when we thought we reached a dead end, we received a surprise gift of 10 units of bedside toilets from none other than His Majesty the King. I still wonder how His Majesty sensed our desperation though we haven’t indicated it anywhere. The royal support doubled our program capability overnight and we gladly called everyone on our list. Lives of ten families were bettered thus.

But the list only grew. We have 20 units in circulation that has served over 25 families already. And with growing awareness on the service, we are getting calls each day. Our waiting-list has over 30 people in age range of 23 to 103, and some families are checking in every day to ask if the new batch has come.

I have personally requested three businesses to import bedside toilets from Bangkok and make it available in their shops. I gave them the address in Bangkok. Because their are families who can afford and they want to buy, but it’s not available in Bhutan yet. This too is yet to happen.

With our project proposal reject we began writing to cooperate offices and individuals in Thimphu to sponsor but so far only few offices agreed to help. It’s sad that we receive request calls from very offices that have rejected our request to help. It’s a paradox. With growing numbers of calls from children of aged parents I can see that we are all going to need Bedside Toilet someday. It’s time we invest in it now, so that it’s there when we need it ourselves.

We owe it to OGZ for helping us in transporting the toilets from Bangkok from the beginning of the program and Mr. Kinley in Bhutan Embassy in Bangkok for helping us from there.

Now, we charge Nu.300 per month to ensure swift return of the toilets when they are not used anymore. Of course, we don’t charge that fee if the family can’t afford. 



Please call 3012 to donate to this cause, to inquire about this service or the product.  If you want to buy yourself from Bangkok, here is the link and number of Handy Toilet 0990593956

In partnership with ShaMa Foundation we are fundraising on GoFundMe. You can be a part of this by donating at least $5. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

PaSsu Diary- Publishing Blog into Book

How unfair is it on my part, not to discuss a word about my own book PaSsu Diary on this very blog where it was born and bred? It’s been three months today since the launch and I am surprised that I have waited so much. In the past ten years I have never let go of any such event without recording them, but it all stopped since the day I decided to publish the blog into a book. The idea took all my attention and I was gradually getting used to not blogging. Surprisingly I survived.

But I vowed to myself that I will return to full-time blogging once the book got published, not foreseeing that there is whole world of marketing to explore after publishing. Therefore, even after months I have been able to keep my words. I am still sorting out my accounts and wondering if I should send the book for reprint.

Meanwhile, I want to recount the overwhelming experience I have had in the whole publication process. Of the many dreams I had since high school, publishing a book was my favourite. But my first attempt at publishing a collection of short stories in 2003 failed and the disappointment grew with me for last fifteen years. I was still considering the publication of my short story book when the idea of publishing this blog came by.

I wasn’t even confident to publish PaSsu Diary because all the articles were already published online and there was nothing new I was offering, yet I wanted to try it out because I wanted to get the feel of holding a book of my own without much effort. I thought, may be it might motivate me to get my short story book published. I was only looking at it as a means to publishing my next real book, but now I feel differently. I was absolutely wrong in assuming that all the posts published on the blog would be read. No one has done that.

Suddenly, I started seeing my 2003 failure as a blessing because over the years I have learned a great deal about how to and how not to publish a book, especially how crucial it’s for your first book to be something that you won’t regret. Therefore, I have paid attention to every little detail; paper type, font, binding, cover art, cover design, dimension and even the thickness of the book. Even if the book failed in all aspects I wanted it to be a good showpiece. Seriously.

My editor Nawang Phuntsho, who helped many young people published their debut book using his crowd-publishing platform was so confident in my book, much more than myself, to vouch for 3000 copies in the first print, highest number ever attempted with any book we handled so far. He refused to change his mind about it. Now I feel he had seen the future.

On the day the book came out of the press even I became a little too over confident because the combination of Chimi R Namgyal’s cartoon, Binu Creativedonkey’s colour alteration and cover design, Che Dorji’s layout and design made the book look so grand. Inside the book, I know my editor has put in his heart-work. That’s the way I wanted my first book to look like.

The Fantastic Four

The book launch event was something I was looking forward to for the past fifteen years and I have shamelessly daydreamed many a times over the years. It’s that single event perhaps every aspiring writer hunger for, to hold their book, read to the crowd, and give their autograph. But after so many years of preparation when it was finally happening to me, I was strangely embarrassed. I was so disappointed to find myself not as happy as I should be. Perhaps I was overwhelmed to see my biggest dream come true so easily.

Book Launched by my favourite author Dr. Karma Phuntsho

The event was hosted by my friend Chimi Zom at her hotel, Dorji Elements and my team made sure that it felt like a real book launch. The setting was perfect, better than those in my daydreams. I had only one condition, that they should not make me sell my own book, which I pitifully saw happening during a few book launches I attended. I had one of my favourite authors, Dr. Karma Phuntsho grace the event. His book History of Bhutan made me look up to him as a super human.

In the confusion of everything I realised that I haven’t prepared a speech at all. I quickly thought of few things that are worthy of talking about my book, and having been a teacher all my life, spoke as if I have prepared it all night;

  1. The book is crowd-published. 16 friends invested in the publication of this book. I must admit that even after all these years I don’t have money to publish my own book, but even if I had money I would have still crowd-published the book because it also means crowd-marketing. Investors are paid back in terms of books and they help you reach your book to their network of people where we can never reach. So on the launch day, even before I sold a single book, 1500 copies are sold in principle. Thanks to Nawang for the great idea.
  2. Blog to book. It’s the first of its kind in the country and I hope this will pave way for the young bloggers to consider it as an ultimate blogging goal. But unlike mine, they could plan it well and focus on certain subjects or theme right from the beginning. 
  3. Book is always judged by its cover, therefore never take design aspects lightly. When you put your book on the shelf with other books, you should not feel sorry for your poor book. 
  4. My book is on ordinary subjects written in almost simple 'spoken’ English, that anyone can easily read and dissect, which will often make you think, “If writing such things can be published as book then even I can be a writer.” And that’s what I want people, especially young one to think, to see how possible it is to publish a book. 
Reviewing PaSsu Diary by Kezang Choden
I am proud to share that my book was received warmly by the readers across the country and I enjoyed overwhelming response from the readers on various media platforms. I only made sure that the book was available in every Dzongkhag through my network of friends- and not just lazily rely on the bookstores, while the readers did the promotion for me. I owe to so many people for letting people know and helping me reach my book to the farthest corners.

From the many reviews and comments, I knew that my book was touching young hearts so I tried to reach out to parents to buy the book for their children. I assured them that the book would tell their children so many things they longed to tell them, without having to argue with them.

The best compliments I received was from some readers who admitted that it was the first book they ever read. They shared how my short articles were so easy to read and how they kept going ‘just one more piece and I will sleep’ for the entire night. They were on page 307 by the time they realised.

And of the many pictures parents sent to me of their children adventuring with my book, the most heartwarming was of a girl who has reviewed my book as part of her English assignment, where she went on to argue with her teacher about how a teacher should be. Her language, analytical power and handwriting will grab your attention.
Review by Sonam Choden, XII, DMSS


Review by Sonam Choden XII, DMSS



At the first booktalk I gave at the Bhutan Art Gallery I had a firsthand insight into how seriously people are discussing the subjects I have written about. I am happy that the issues I discussed long time ago are back on the table with this book, therefore I am looking forward to the few booktalks I have planned to take part in.

Book Talk at Bhutan Art Gallery- by Wang




Book Launch Covered by BBS News

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