A disabled man stands up as a trainer

Pema Dorji, 51-year-old disabled man from Damphu, Tsirang, is a single father of six children. He owns a tailoring shop in Babesa and because of his tailoring skills; he can make an honest living. He stands as an example for the rest of the disabled people in the country

Currently, Pema Dorji is training 16 people with chronic impairments and also single parents of disabled children for a three- month tailoring course in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH). He charges Nu 15,000 per month as his training fee. The training is initiated by Ministry of Labour and Human Resources in collaboration with BUSSI-EN group and Department of Physiotherapy, JDWNRH.

The objective is to impart therapy through skill development training, to provide self-employment opportunities for reintegration in the society, to enhance the livelihood and to give positive effect to mind and body.

Pema Dorji said no individual should back off thinking that they are disabled, or that they cannot make a living. He said, “If a person has a strong vision in one’s life, then anyone can do anything, no matter how and what the person is because what person needs is skill and determination.”

He also said that disabled people should have a long-term vision to sustain their entire life without having to depend on others. “If we beg, people will give once, twice and thrice, but not forever. Therefore, we, disabled people, should never stick to short-term decision as it may end anytime instead see and look for long-term sustainability. ”

Pema Dorji had fallen off the roof of a two-story traditional house, which he was helping to roof in 2004 “For once, I lost all hope in life as I was in the hospital for three years and 8 months, with no cure. I nearly became an alcoholic as I was frustrated with my life, but with the encouraging environment and support from the government, I decided to do something better in life,” Pema said. He started a tailoring business in 2008.

“When I started my business, I did small jobs in repairing electronic stuff, which I have learned at Paro AMC before I turned into a disabled. In my first day, I could nearly earn Nu 600, still I didn’t lose hope and continued doing, and thereafter with the times, it all turned out well,” he added.

His skills have allowed him to take up residence in an expensive place like Thimphu. Pema rents a house for Nu 12,800 and he has five staff working under him. He earns more than Nu 30,000 with which he pays the rent, utility charges and staff.

“Not much profit is there after paying all the payments, but I can at least make a living from what I am doing and business is going pretty well, however, not much savings,” he added.

He announced the training program through various media, and as of now, he is training more than 20 people collecting Nu 1000 per month per person as training fees.

“Several times, I thought of giving training to those who are interested in learning, no matter if the person is disabled or is an ordinary people, however, with budget constraint I failed,” he added.

Pema said he will make sure that the trainees acquire the knowledge which will make them independent.

“I am proud of myself for what I did and for what I am doing because I can do equally what the ordinary people are doing and can travel where they are travelling,” he added. He has a plan to open up a tailoring institute soon.

Meanwhile, the funding support from DHR, MoLHR, BUSSI-EN group, a social welfare organization, and JDWNRH provides 9 sewing machines, one interlock machine, 10 electric motors and professional fee of the trainer for the three- month duration.

Once the training is completed, the trainees will form a group to carry out minor clothing repair services for the hospital. They will be helped in generating income individually by providing repairing services to the hospital. A minimum of four candidates will also be recruited for the tailoring unit in JDWNRH.

There are plans to initiate a similar therapeutic course in all the hospital in the country with support from government and CSOs.

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