Friday, August 23, 2013

The Story of Change from Eastern Bhutan

Gangla Khema Primary School.  Estd: 2002

Gangla Khema Primary School under Lhuentse Dzongkha in the north-east part of Bhutan begs First Price at the 3rd Awards Ceremony of Design for Change Bhutan 2013. Design for Change is a world initiative to empower children around the world.

The event was held on Sunday, 18th August in Motithang High School auditorium. The Award Ceremony was organized by Early Learning Center, the DFC country Partner. 17 schools participated this year for the contest- 3 from Luentse, 1 from Trashiyangtse, 2 from Chukha, 1 from Paro and 10 schools from Thimphu valley.
Students gathered for a reading session.

Like any other remote school, Gangla Khema Primary School also had a dreadful problem. The hygiene of the children was severely neglected by their parents.  The children were suffering from Itchiness and rashes were plenty on their body, fungal infection on heads and wounds on their legs were a common sight. Lots of lice and its nit invaded their hair and their body and mouth were stinking badly. The children were found having meals with long, dirty nails and being absent were the order of the day. The long distance and the rugged route from their houses to school would make them sweat a lot and the uniform they have worn would get muddy while they reach their school. Owing to these difficulties and ill health the children couldn't concentrate in the class- a problem so important to solve at the earliest hour.

After much discussion with the parents and the students, “Hygiene for Head, Heart and Hand” was taken up as their Design for Change initiative.

Cupboards for students to keep their uniform
With dying need to start the project, the school management used the fund of Nu 5000 which was given by the Dzongkhag Education Office for the school to celebrate World Water Day. The management used the fund to purchase tooth brushes, tooth pastes, nail clippers, soaps, mediker and toilet papers.

The school provided shoe rags and cupboards for the children to keep their uniforms at school when they leave for home after the school hour. The students of class V and VI were paired with class PP and I students so they could help the younger kids wash their hands and legs properly.

From the following day, as soon as the children reached the school then they brush their teeth, wash their legs, head and wear their school uniform. The management has also hung a mirror for the children to help comb their hair and help them dress properly.

Every Thursday afternoon, the students keep aside their learning to take a bath. The senior students help their adopted brothers and sisters to take a bath, trim their nails and clean their ears.
The Principal trimming his student's hair with a hair clipper.

All the boys of Gangla Khema decided to trim their hair short with the help of hair clippers four times a year to avoid fungal infection and keep their head free from lice and nit. 
Boys of Gangla with their Principal

Similarly, the girls decided to apply mediker four times a year to remove lice and nit. After applying this medicine, they massage it thoroughly and keep their head covered by a piece of cloth for 3 hours. Then they comb their hair and wash it with the help of soap.   
Girls of Gangla on their hair/head treatment

To sustain this program the school has started cultivating vegetables at the school campus and start poultry. The school has already discussed with a boarding school nearby which has agreed to purchase the vegetables and eggs from their small poultry farm. And after witnessing a drastic change in the overall hygiene of their children the parents also has agreed to pay Nu 30 each annually to sustain the program.
Students  involved in growing vegetables 
Gangla Khema Poultry Farm

When the principal of the school shared his story of change in the auditorium, i felt for those innocent children    in the depth of my heart. i couldn't help listening to the principal and staring at the photographs shared by him to tell the story.

Gangla Khema is one school among 500 plus schools across the country which has dared to do something and see the change they wanted to see.  HATS OFF to the Principal of the school, teachers, students and the parents for having achieved so much with so little resources and for silently telling us ‘I can and you can, and together we can bring the change in the world'.

Photo courtesy: Principal of Gangla Khema Primary School, Lhuentse.

With the Rolling Trophy and A Projector (First Price) the Principal of Gangla Khema  stands for  a  snap.
Photographers seen in the frame: The principals of Baktong and Dangling Pry Schools from Lhuntse.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Speech at Award Day -Design for Change 2013.

More than 25 MILLION Students across the globe is saying “I can”. Wow! That’s a huge achievement in itself for the Design for Change world initiative. And for your information the three word slogan “YES WE CAN” is what our DFC students have been saying for quite some time now.

At Druk School, Our guiding philosophy of Excellence in body, mind and speech strives to achieve excellence in body conduct, in thoughts we think and in the language we use to communicate with the world. Having these principles in place, we have been feeling, imaging, doing and sharing Design for change stories since 2011.

“No BG vehicle” A DFC program started in 2011 is an initiative to reduce corruption by discouraging parents to use Government owned vehicle to drop and pick their children from our school campus. “Kindle a flame” which started in 2012 is about educating our housemaids and babysitters. Both these programs are being continued and are getting stronger. These programs are changing mindsets, changing lives and have been reducing an ounce of Government Budget each day that otherwise goes in purchasing an extra ounce of petroleum for those extra trips.

This year DFC program in our school was also dissected to class levels.  And by virtue of being the talk of the town my 7th grade student’s story of “Active Citizens” which relates to democracy and politics got nominated to represent our school here this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, my involvement in their story of change as a facilitator made me realize that DFC Program brings about “Urgency” for action. The children hunt for the problems that bother them the most; then they list down the solutions to solve it, and then they execute their action and finally they share it with the world to inspire others to make the world a better place to live. They feel, they imagine, they do and then they share. They take all that matters in their own little hands!
It also came to my consensus while helping the children that the DFC program also indirectly teaches them about “designing” or about the “planning process” involved in creating something. The designing of a clothe, for instance, requires the designer to feel about the need for the cloth, then he imagines the fabric, design and the texture of the cloth, and then he cuts and stitches the cloth pieces together and finally sale it to the world.

Planning a dinner at home for friends would involve the same process. I should first feel the need to throw a party to my friends. Then I would imagine the menu and then I would invite my friends and have dinner. Finally, I would share with my other colleagues in my office about the dinner I hosted for my friends the previous night. Interestingly, the talk about the dinner in the office would then inspire another friend to host a dinner in the following night.

Personally speaking, DFC is changing the way our children think. With its FOUR stages of FEEL, IMAGINE, DO and SHARE DFC is teaching our children more than the stories they have in their minds to share with us today. Getting our children involve in this noble initiative will only make them more humane, visionary, smart planners, elite executives and above all a responsible future citizen.

To sum up, the story that my students so proudly want to share today with you all might not make you click your tongue or might neither garner compassion from all the Connors of this Assembly hall….because it relates to democracy and politics- the least admired topics currently…….but it’s righteous enough to say that these children have become more responsible citizens and have certainly curved a small space for themselves in the history of our young democracy by being an agent of change in their own little ways.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In the mild cold of Darjeeling

Picture Perfect Darjeeling 

The following piece of feeling was penned down during my college days. This lyric (hope it sounds correct for the write up presented below) was meant for a music video which could never be filmed. i guess i was too busy in other stuffs. 

But this morning i found it tacked between my academic certificates. And going through it i felt happy for being at home but gradually my happiness was tainted by realizing the tremendous upheaval in Darjeeling (in the recent times).

This write up, call it a poem, lyric, you name it...but i wish to offer it as a sincere gratitude for letting us (foreign students) learn and grow in the mesmerizing beauty of Darjeeling. It also aspires to be a prayer that would help fulfill the 'aspiration for a separate state' and bring peace and happiness back to the Hills of Darjeeling; the place we would love to visit again.    
St,Joseph's College, NP, Darjeeling
Under the shadow of our college
Surrounded with mountains and hills
With people so kind and loving
Their culture so rich and pleasing

Darjeeling town
All it makes us feel
We are back home and living
It really churns out such a feeling
In the mild cold of Darjeeling

Under the banner of humanity
People live in the cream of harmony
Takes immense pride to celebrate
Their rituals with great excitement

People of Darjeeling
Whenever we close our longing eyes
We feel you are by our side
Whenever we see the blue sky
And feel the cold breeze blowing by

Our heart shed tears inside
“Miles apart” when this we realize
It really churns out such a feeling
In the mild cold of Darjeeling

Our heart keeps on missing you
As we are living far away from you
So we long for you each night and day
And there is emptiness in each day
In the shape of you
Oh! My Country; Bhutan you!
Photo courtesy: Google.

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