Youth Led Initiatives
The Foundation partnered with the UNICEF for a small grant project titled “Youth-led Initiatives’’ to provide opportunities for skills development and self-empowerment through small grants to fund the initiatives led by them. This is a year-long project aiming to encourage youth to take up innovative community-based activities and is targeted at providing leadership opportunities to the youth both in rural and urban Bhutan. Tarayana believes that the youth involved in such projects can enhance their individual skills and promote civic engagement in the communities they live and work in. Since the inception, a total of ten projects have been initiated by different (four projects for Tarayana School Clubs and six for out of school youth) youth groups across the country.
The Tarayana School Club in Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School, Thimphu took the initiative to repaint walls and areas covered by crude drawings and slang words; in and around town with inspirational quotes and paintings. The project is named ‘Graffiti- An Inspiration by Sight’ aiming to beautify the town with words and figures of motivation and encouragement using their artistic creativity.
Skills Development in Pottery
The only pottery house in Gangzur, Lhuentse constructed with the project grant from UNDP was at the verge of losing its identity with only one person to run it. Gangzur was once known for its pottery and now only a handful of people are continuing this craft. The Tarayana School Club from Lhuentse Higher Secondary School used this as an opportunity to revive the dying art of traditional pottery in the region as well as to utilize the work shed more effectively. The club now takes up pottery as a co-curricular activity aiming to provide the students with the skills and knowledge in this traditional art.
Similarly, another youth group from Gangzur (Yumchey), Lhuentse started imparting skills development training and empowering the disadvantaged individuals through vocational trainings such as pottery and basic electrification training. This group aims at creating employment opportunities for the unemployed youth in the village through skills development training and also to preserve and promote traditional crafts.
The Tarayana School Club from Rangjung Highger Secondary School, Trashigang Dzongkhag initiated to establish the Freelance Information & Share Centre (FISC) in order to record and document unique stories and the real life struggles of people with special needs, abandoned orphans or senior citizens, and economically disadvantaged communities. The stories are recorded in form of booklets, videos, documentaries, and photographs, and then shared to the public through social media. FISC hopes to minimize problems of the vulnerable communities, by linking with relevant agencies. The Centre also provides support through social work, building shelters, seeking donations from the richer communities and passing to the less fortunate. This also offers the youth a platform to explore leadership qualities to coordinate programmes, financial management, competency in retrieving information and learning various forms of documentation processes.
Like the majority of the developing world, the environmental state of Bhutan has deteriorated over the years due to issues of solid waste contaminating the air, water and soil posing serious threat to public health and hygiene. One of the initiatives undertaken by the youth groups is waste management with the intent to preserve the environment. The Tarayana School Club in Yadi Higher Secondary School, Monggar Dzongkhag, the Youth Groups in Lhop community, Samtse Dzongkhag and Ney, Lhuentse Dzongkhag are working on projects to address waste issue in their respective communities. Their initiatives are geared towards sustainable management of waste through proper awareness on waste and waste handling in their respective communities.
Care giving for Special Needs
Tarayana partners with Bussi-En, a Japanese Social Welfare Organization, in implementing a joint project on Social Inclusion funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). As part of Tarayana’s commitment to the project, a preliminary survey to identify and register people with special needs was carried out in Samtse Dzongkhag. A substantial number of people with special needs were identified. The survey team found the cases to be very genuine, requiring special and emergent attention.
Santa Raj Rai, a youth from Lumbay, Samtse initiated a pilot project as the care-giver to the potential client (Ms. Bhudi Lhachi). The youth involved in this project is benefitted in terms of finding employment for himself and in imparting social awareness about ‘people with special needs’. He attended a crash course in special care giving skills and learnt about the importance of developing a sense of compassion and empathy for those living with disabilities.
Documentation of Traditions
Twenty three Rai households reside in the village of Lumbay in Samtse. They follow a unique traditional culture and have a distinctive language of their own. The Rai language is closely related to the Tibeto-Burman language of Kiranti, spoken by the Kirat people. Due to modernization and migration, the local language, tradition and cultural practices of the Rai community is fading. The youth group from Lumbay, Samtse initiated an attempt to document the Rai Tradition. The project aims to record the traditional way of life and promote the rich culture and traditional practices of the Rai community through a documentary produced using various media, including films, photographs and articles.
Likewise, Athang Rukha is a small village in the wilderness of the Jowo Dungshi Mountain range in Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag. They have a distinct culture, language and way of life that once differentiated the Oleps from the rest of the people in Wangduephodrang. This is no longer the case with modernization and Dzongkha language having taken over the local dialect. Except for a few elderly people, the younger ones don’t speak their dialect. The youth group from Rukha, Wangdue has started to document the Olep dialect in order to preserve it for posterity.