The Aiela – A Grandmother of Goddesses

Monpas believe in appeasing local deities before seeking medical treatment

30 September, 2008 – Dewlemo, 55, has been bedridden for almost a month. She suffers from joint pains and complains of pain in her chest. But she never thought of visiting the nearest Basic Health Unit, about a four-hour walk from her village in Phumzur.

It was not the distance that kept her in the corner of her old smoky house. She had offended Aiela, their local deity, an astrologer had said. Continue reading The Aiela – A Grandmother of Goddesses

Operation Sight Restoration

GLAD TO SEE YOU AGAIN – Thimphu eye team brings light to the Layap vision-challenged

30 September, 2008 – For eight years Kinley Om lived in the dark, deprived of her vision and unaware of the dramatic changes taking place around her.

She is 73 years old and lives in Laya. At an altitude of about 4000 metres above sea level, Laya is one of the coldest places on earth. It is a five-day walk from the nearest road.

Laya embodies the mammoth task Bhutan faces in taking services to remote areas. That difficulty is symbolised in the form of Kinley Om, who has been blind for eight years and, given the distance and her age, had given up hope of ever seeing again. She had though prayed to god. Continue reading Operation Sight Restoration

MDGs – Bhutan’s progress report is good but…

…there is an urgency to secure long term sustainable financing arrangements and capacity building

Baby blues – Inadequate levels of skilled birth attendance affect maternal mortality

29 September, 2008 – Bhutan has made significant and sustained progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is potentially on track to achieve them all. As world leaders gathered for a high level event on MDG at the UN Summit in New York, a technical report prepared by UN agencies in Bhutan and the government stated that several targets had been realised in the country’s commitment to achieving the MDGs by 2015.

“Bhutan’s progress in reducing poverty from 36.3 percent in 2000 to 23.2 percent in 2007 keeps it well on track to achieve the MDG,” stated the report. This has been matched by reductions in human poverty, as measured by the HPI-1 index, which declined by 19 percent over the same period, largely on account on improvements in enhancing access to improved drinking water sources and reducing child malnutrition. Continue reading MDGs – Bhutan’s progress report is good but…

Glimpses into (almost) forgotten lives

Source: Kuensel
By Kencho Wangdi

One out of four Bhutanese live in poverty. While covering the elections, Kuensel’s chief reporter came across some of them.

Living off the land: A life of relentless toil

Sangay, 57, didn’t have to hear the thunder – he could see a gray mass of clouds stalking the western horizon. He eyed the clouds in the way all farmers do. Too much rain would ruin his maize seedlings, too little would parch and stunt them.

Sangay is a resident of Pangthang, a hamlet at the bottom of one of Pemagatshel’s perpendicular ridges. It’s a six-hour walk from a road at the hilltop. I was in Pangthang to gauge the political leanings of the inhabitants after a party leader had campaigned there a day or two ago. But, on that day, politics was the last thing on Sangay’s mind. He was clearing an area of weeds and the sudden change of colour in the sky had hastened his pace. Continue reading Glimpses into (almost) forgotten lives

Impact of the Urban Drift

Source: Kuensel
By Kesang Dema

An empty house in Bidung

Mention rural urban migration and images of village bumpkins leaving the countryside in droves for a life in the big city comes to mind.

That has not quite been the case in Bhutan. If people left the villages it was usually after completing education and landing a job in place other than their own village.

It probably started in late 60s when the government, extremely short of human resources, employed anyone who had some years of schooling. These people started a new life in a new place.

Villagers that left the countryside for a life in the city were those taken by city relatives as domestic help or to look after orchards beyond the municipal boundaries or for schooling. Some had left to live with their children working for the government or in the private sector. Continue reading Impact of the Urban Drift

Why a strong economy matters


By Passang Dorji

Sept 24, 2008-Thimphu: When Bhutan adopted Gross National Happiness as its development philosophy, it had thrown down the gauntlet at itself.


And today the challenge is staring straight and square at the country’s soul.

With the economy yet to gain strength and stabilize at a self-assuring digit, Bhutan’s immediate challenge, some economists say, is to remain unscathed by the inevitable forces of the global trade integration. 

But, to do so Bhutan must strengthen its economy – a Catch-22, for the time being. The test doesn’t end here, either. There is a weightier challenge, because Gross National Happiness demands more than a tangible economic development. Continue reading Why a strong economy matters

The Monpas of Trongsa are Monpas no more

Distinct old ways are vanishing with the pace of progress

By Tashi Dema

INDISTINGUISHABLE – Except for language, their culture and tradition have succumbed to modernisation

26 September, 2008 – Cool clouds drift over the Wangling village in Trongsa dzongkhag bringing the inhabitants respite from the searing afternoon sun.

Lhakpa, 15, in faded jeans and black half-sleeve shirt, is on the ground near a old hut. He is in pain. While chipping at tree barks his knife fell and cut his ankle.

Lhakpa picks up a piece of cloth lying in front of the hut and wraps it over his wound. His single mother asks him to go to the basic health unit in Jangbi, located at about a two-hour walk from their village. She speaks to him in their local dialect – Monkha. But Lhakpa does not want to go anywhere. He has to attend his non-formal education class in the evening. Continue reading The Monpas of Trongsa are Monpas no more