GNP – Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

We would like to say a huge “thank you” to Michael and all the staff at Theale Wellbeing Centre, for so generously sponsoring three children from Tschapel Lower Secondary School in Bhutan.

Martin and I have returned from our second trip to this wonderful country and as the first question we are usually asked is “where is it?” we thought we would set the scene:

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a remote country in the eastern Himalaya, land-locked between China and India.

Locally known as Druk Yul (the land of the thunder dragon) Bhutan is the size of Switzerland with a population of around 750,000.

Bhutan’s isolation, (both geographically and by deliberate policy) meant that:

  • Until the 1950’s there were no public hospitals or schools
  • Until the 1960’s there was no electricity, roads or diplomatic relations with other countries
  • Until the 1970’s there were no tourists allowed
  • Until 1999 there was no television or internet

Nowadays this Buddhist country measures its success not by GDP but by GNH – “Gross National Happiness” – (meaning permanent contentment). This includes protecting the environment and preserving culture.

A lot of focus is on education, which is free, and lessons are taught in English.

70% of the population live in remote valleys and live off the land. This land ranges from Himalayan mountains in the north to subtropical forests in the south and as much of Bhutan is too steep, high or cold to farm, it means that less than 10% of the land is cultivatable and very labour intensive.

Tschapel School is located in Haa – one of the most unspoiled, least populated and least visited places in Bhutan.

In this farming community Potatoes, wheat and buckwheat are grown.

As everywhere in Bhutan, education is seen as important but in Haa, the obstacles faced by children which make schooling difficult are:

  • Walking up to 2 hours a day to reach school
  • Reliance on children (especially in none, or one parent families to work on the farm or in the home
  • The cost of uniforms, which for low income families is prohibitive

We have been working with various initiatives with schools in Bhutan and know that sponsoring a child to provide full uniform, shoes and stationary will make the difference between them getting and completing an education or not!

So Theale Wellbeing Centre has made the world of difference to these three children who are from one or no parent farming families.

Ngawang Tenzin, Age 12

 

Nim Dem, Age 17

Tshering Lham, Age 8

And they, we and their school Principal: Mr. Tandin Wangyel are incredibly grateful for such generosity:

“The support from Theale Wellbeing Centre has enabled these children; who are orphaned or brought up by single parents, to purchase vital uniform, shoes and learning materials.

This in turn has ensured the children will attend school and whilst there it will help improve or better their learning which will help them and their families in the future.

Thank you from us all”.  – Tandin Wangyel – Principal, Tschapel Lower Secondary Shcool.

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