A skinny boy wearing faded jacket and jeans wraps his head in a scarf and covers his mouth with a mask. Jigme is dressed for the day.
Jigme works as a helper at a construction site in Gidagom, 25 kms from Thimphu, as he awaits the class XII results that will be out any day now.
After appearing the class XII examination last December Jigme came to the capital looking for temporary work. There weren’t many. So the Class XII student from the southeastern district of Pemagatshel joined a construction company. “I have not missed a single day since I joined,” said Jigme adding that, it was sometimes awkward to see friends driving by as he broke stones and carried cement bags, but he felt there is nothing to feel shy about it.
Jigme earns Nu 600 a day and feels it is a good opportunity funding his own expenses if he qualifies for a government college. “If I do not qualify, I’ll have to look for a job,” he said.
Jigme said that every winter he would get busy searching for temporary job. Most of the time, he would get work either as a sale boy or in some building construction. The earnings were spent on uniform, stationery and as pocket money.
Ugyen Pemo is a good weaver and her skills have come handy this winter. The girl from Trashigang sells her weaves to handicraft shops in the capital. Without any luck at a desk job, a friend shared the idea to sell her weaves. She earns Nu 2,500 a month. “I was about to go back to my village. But without earning some cash I won’t be able to continue my studies,” she said. Dechen is happy with her work.
A class X graduate, Sonam Wangmo, 18, is using the capital’s cold and the night owls to earn. Sonam sells thukpa (rice porridge) and momo (dumplings) on Thimphu’s streets from morning to late night.
“Honestly, I feel proud when I can earn some money for my school expenses,” she said. She starts as early as 7am, sells on the street and moves to the crowded spots at night. She earns about Nu 1,000 a day.
Sonam’s mother is happy with her daughter. “These children are not begging or stealing, but trying to earn some extra money in an honest way,” she said. “It is her part time job with me and I will pay her well,” she said jokingly, looking at her daughter.