If Bhutan is unique then the East of the country is even more mysterious, unexplored and unknown especially for foreigners. The West of the country (Thimphu-Paro-Punakha) is the main itinerary route. I never had the chance to venture into the East due to time constraints but I feel connected to the unchartered land and in particular to one rural primary school by the name of Chaling Primary School. It was a shame that I didn’t have the time to execute in-field charity during my first Bhutan trip. I like things to be hands-on and since this is close to my heart, I wish to be fully involved and have the chance to monitor the whole process. Not wanting to cross off Bhutan, launching a Bhutan Chapter became a goal since December 2015.
With 123 students from Classes PP-VI, 7 teachers and 1 principal, Chaling Primary School is located in a rather isolated place. There are 7 classrooms with the capacity to hold some 30 students. Students are mostly the Chaling (highlanders), Shongphu and Tongling people. They come from different villages each with their unique set of dialects, dresses and customs.
13 students (7-13 yrs-old from Classes PP-VI) are identified as being underprivileged. They are the most vulnerable bunch out of the whole school and are in dire need of assistance.
There are 9 girls: 10 year-old Samten who also shares my birthday, 13 year-old Kunzang, 7 year-old Karma, 8 year-old Ugyen, 10 year-old Pema, 10 year-old Leki, 13 year-old Tenzin, 9 year-old Dorji and 13 year-old Sangay Y.
There are 4 boys: 11 year-old Sherab, 9 year-old Kunzang, 10 year-old Rinchen and 8 year-old Sangay D
For these 13 kids they share many things in common: some are taken care of by their grandparents, some are left with only one parent, some are not well looked after due to either a member of their family suffering from health complication, alcohol addiction and poverty. Lack of proper care and attention has a profound impact on a child’s development. Lack of schooling is a determinant of poverty and poverty forces many to drop out of school. Children should not fall into this vicious cycle and be denied of an education due to their family’s socio-economic status. These 13 kids lack stationery, education supplies and proper uniforms. This is unacceptable which is why despite the long unnecessary delays, kids are the top concern.
Charity was divided into two lots: one is uniform hand-outs and the other is education supplies. I was happy to see uniforms being distributed to the children and delighted that on the 22nd of March, the Principal handed out education supplies for both the 13 kids and the teachers. Love the photos and in particular the smiles on their faces.
Last but not least, to show my appreciation for the success of this charity and why it is a collective effort, I’d like to say:
To Colonel Karma, thank you for your continuous support especially through the unnecessarily long and tougher side of executing this Bhutan chapter. Thank you for helping to locate the school and for keeping me informed with updates. I appreciate your time and for being my eyes during this project. Thank you for all the assistance.
To the Principal and the teachers of Chaling Primary School, thank you for your dedication to education. Aiya, such local heroes！
To the 13 darlings, remember to stay strong, to be always independent and self-reliant and above all, when you grow up, please help someone else and make them smile even if it is for a second. That is all I want.
To the policeman who delivered the educational supplies from Thimphu to Chaling, thank you for your help.
To Bhutan and China Post, thank you for ensuring that the package made it.
To Rachel, thank you for delivering the money needed to purchase uniform for the 13 kids.
Couldn’t do it without all of you!
Life is about a string of planned and unplanned or more random moments that either make you cry or smile. I’ve had the chance to meet many who made me smile through one tiny gesture and act of kindness. Now it’s my turn. I want the 13 kids to understand that it is normal for one to face the tougher side of life. Yet, there are always moments to feel blessed, happy and to find a reason to smile. I hope they will be independent and self-reliant and above all, remain kind. Kindness is an everlasting virtue that transcends culture, religion and ethnicity. So, continue with your studies and never drop out of school! Study hard and when you have the capacity to do so: sponsor and support a complete stranger. Make them smile through your own efforts, remember what your final goal is and never give up. It can be achieved。
Overall, I am very happy and am glad to be connected to the kids, the school and the staff there. Great to meet local heroes and to see those smiles. Again, happy to know that there are always people out there who dedicate their time to education. In the end, collective effort is nothing without actual input from everyone in the school. Anyone who wish to help out, contact Chaling PSJ and email them for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org