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Welcome to The Village Children in Bhutan (TVCIB)
What is TVCIB, you may be wondering? It is a brand new non-profit organization that has grown out of one man's prayer and dream of helping the local people (called Khengpa Olay in their unique Khengpa language), and especially the children, of the Kheng villages located in Panbang Dungkhag, which is a sub-district of Zhemgang Dzongkhag located in the southern part of Bhutan. Mr. Ganga Ram Bhandari, who comes from a different part of Bhutan, had the opportunity to work in this region as a civil servant for not less than 6 years (between 2008 and 2013), during which time he assessed the extent of poverty here on a daily basis and could not help but open his heart to the local people.

THE NEED FOR SUPPORT:

People living in this area are very poor, below the poverty line as per the government statistical GDP calculation, per capita income. Rice can be grown in paddies during the monsoon season and later in the year, the stony earth can be coaxed into providing some millet, but hardly enough for the people to live on. The lucky few have a vegetable garden or some orange trees whose yield can alleviate the situation in a good year, but mostly, poverty is a constant.
Education for the children seems like a logical first step in breaking this poverty cycle. These children are allowed to attend public schools, of course. However, the busing system is only provided beyond a 6-kilometer radius, so the children who need to walk one or two hours to get to school are automatically disadvantaged, being too tired during the day to concentrate on their studies. In addition, there are many parents who cannot even afford the clothing and shoes that children would need were they to send them to school; in general, children end up working in the field at a very young age and they have no opportunity to learn basic skills. Of course the very young cannot help very much in the fields, and TVCIB believes that children of pre-school age as well as their parents would benefit if these children could attend a well-managed day care center. At the present time, there are two very basic day-care facilities in the area, but attendance is limited to those who are close enough to make the journey there feasible, and for those who are close enough, the parents rather see it as a waste of time since they must stop their work mid-day and make the trek again to bring their child his or her lunch.

ECCD in Panbang Village
Early Childhood Care Development facility (ECCD) in Panbang Village, with the Panbang primary school in the background

THE TVCIB PROJECT:
The Care Center that TVCIB is proposing to construct and operate on a charitable basis would be a clean modern building with kitchen and restroom facilities; it would provide busing back and forth for the children as well as snacks and a hearty lunch; besides making use of a well-equipped playground, children would receive guidance and help in acquiring skills that they will need to be on par with their urban compatriots when they begin school after the age of 6, the most important of these skills being the ability to speak their national language Dzongkha. These children would get a good start in life and TVCIB also proposes to follow up this good start by later extending its busing service so as to facilitate these children's continued attendance at the public schools.

Distributing books to the children
Mr. Ganga Ram Bhandari (left) distributing books to the children in Early Childhood Care Development facility (ECCD) in Panbang

Children are the starting point for the support that TVCIB proposes but help will also be extended to Khengpa Olay more generally, as the Care Centre will also serve as a reception and distribution point for basic supplies that donors may send from time to time, and it would also be large enough to store emergency tarps and supplies that are normally provided by the government in case of flooding and destruction of property during monsoon storms (these supplies otherwise can take up to three days to come from Thimphu, depending on road conditions).



Click on the Facebook icon in the top right of this page to interact with TVCIB founder on his page Bhandari Bhai Bhandari.

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