Children of the Lesser God
A beautiful Sunday just can’t be wasted by being a couch potato at home in front of the wide screen watching nothing in particular but still shuffling through the various channels. A Sunday out in the field makes your day worthwhile if you get there with a purpose. And our purpose was to take basic foodstuffs, clothing and shoes to some people at Khariphu village in Khasadrapchu, Thimphu living below the poverty line. Can you imagine people in Thimphu Dzongkhag living in poverty forget about being below the poverty line? And it is just about 40 minutes drive from the glittering Thimphu city.
From the outskirts it will appear that no people would be living in poverty. One will find huge houses in a very beautiful village. But once you get into the interior you will find the ramshackle huts without proper door and basic necessities to live a decent life.
It was a project initiated by my two wonderful friends – Choki Tshomo and Ugyen- and thanks to them I got a chance to contribute my service in my little ways. I owe these wonderful couple a bunch of thanks for making it possible for me to see the realities of around 10 households in Khariphu. They have collected rice, oils, soaps, clothing and even plates and mugs to be distributed for the families in need of the help. I too did a spring-cleaning of my wardrobe and contributed clothes and shoes of our entire family members and got some good new stuff from my friends in Shop No 7 in Olakha too.
We met aum Dago Bidha, a small stunted old lady who did not even know her age. She was bare feet and looked like she has not taken a good bath for ages. We were told that she lives with her two children one of whom is stunted like herself. Ugyen and Choki handed over a bag of rice, cooking oil, soaps, some clothes and shoes to the lady and for her daughters too. We got hold of two local boys, gave them a pair of shoes and sought their help to help carry the old woman’s stuff till her house.
Then we met Zam and Tandin- a couple who makes lime out of limestone and sells it at Thimphu. They did not seem to have some decent clothing on their bodies and two little kids of theirs were shabbily dressed. We distributed some clothes and stuffs to them.
We then went on further to stop over at Paydey and Choden’s shack. The mother-daughter duo with their children lives in a small hut and looked a bit complacent. Nevertheless, they looked very much in need some clothes for a change. So once again we opened our car trunk and sorted out the clothes of their size.
The most interesting person we met was app Dhew. He came out with huge smiles on his face and little short in a very cold and windy day. We immediately took out a nice long pant and shirt and got him dressed up immediately. He looked much smarter in those outfits and had even greater grins on his face.
It is such smiles on their faces that make our hearts smile too. We met Choden and her little daughter who seemed to be doing much better in the village.
We then went on to meet Dago Dem and her daughters whose conditions we felt were the worst scenarios of all. The mother and daughter came with three little kids. We took the maximum time at this place to sort out clothes for the kids and parents. We were touched by the conditions of the children living in abstract poverty. Both the parents looked healthy and the daughter specially turned out to be very pretty and at a very productive age. But we learned that they were bit complacent and spoiled by alcohol. We were like these innocent kids did not deserve the kind of life they are being provided with. It is one thing if the adults choose to live their life by drinking but then it is completely another thing to be dragging their children in the kind of life they are living.
We advised the young mother to be more mindful from hence onward and to take care of her children. Well, the least we could was this.
The last household we visited had around twenty-three members living under the same roof. Imagine the living condition? It is too harsh to out in words here. We found a little boy of PP doing a huge pile of dishes and it appeared like he was going to take the entire day to finish the dishes. The remaining of everything was equally distributed among the family members lest they fight after our departure.
All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime. You not only get to explore places and learn the ground realities of the people but you also get to do something good for the society and the community which is a part of bigger Bhutan. And what more, finally I got to eat the specialties of my friend Choki Tsomo’s culinary skills. It was kind of outdoor fun with a purpose. Nothing better than whiling your Sunday sitting in the corner of your home when you can get out and get things done.
And most important thing we found out was that these people need more of educational programmes in the form of counseling, awareness and knowledge of what they are surrounded with and what they can actually make out of it. There is lots of productive age group who are found to be simply wasting their lives by abusing alcohol.
Khariphu is a beautiful village with access to road, have limestone quarry and the people have cultivable land. It is found that most of the lands are left barren and we did not find even a single person working in the filed. The one good thing we learnt was that the person who operates the quarry (Khuenphen Norden Mining) has not only taken roads to the doorsteps of each household but also provided the village with a school bus to drop and pick the children to and from schools. Most of the children I believe go to either Sisina Primary School or Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School. It was the only ray of hope we saw for the little kids of the famished family.
We believe that these people need some serious educational programmes. Relevant agencies could really look into the matter. After all it is about the future of those little kids we met today.