After this paper did a story on three children begging for food on the streets in Thimphu, there have been some major developments in the lives of the children and the family.
There is a reason why the girls, 8-year-old Tshering Uden and 6-year-old Khandom are full of smiles these days. They get to finally go to school, a dream they had cherished, Happier times: Kinzang Dema with her childern without any financial worries. They are now enrolled in Jigme Losel Primary School in Thimphu as Gyalpoi Tozay, granted as Kidu by His Majesty the King since September 8.
“We don’t pay even a single amount for our children’s education as all educational expenses are covered under Gyalpoi Tozay,” said the mother of the children, Kinzang Dema.
Moreover, the school provides for nutritious mid-day meals for the children.
She added that education will also be given to her two younger sons and a child she is expecting once they cross 6 years of age. The ages of Tshering Uden, Khandom, and their younger siblings have been confirmed by the Kidu Officer.
According to Kinzang Dema, her younger daughter, Khandom, actually did not qualify for school as she was just 6 years old, but with the full support from Office of Gyalpoi Zimpon, His Majesty’s Secretariat, Khandom eventually did find a placement in school.
Besides the financial drawback earlier, the children also faced another barrier on the road to education; they did not have their census record as their father did not give his legal consent to register them in the census, without which schools do not accept students.
“The Office of Gyalpoi Zimpon said that they will soon give census to my three elder children, which their father and my ex-husband failed to give after the divorce,” said the mother. She said the father’s identity card number can track him down.
Each child is paid an educational allowance each year until they reach class five, after which an increment will be given thereafter. “They do not pay us the amount, but instead they pay it directly to the schoolteacher where the money is used for paying expenses when needed,” she said.
“I would like to thank His Majesty the King for helping to educate my children. I can never forget the help I got from His Majesty the King in my lifetime”, Kinzang Dema said.
Kinzang Dema had earlier worked in a drayang after her divorce from her first husband, the father of her three older children. She took on the sole responsibility of raising her three children after the divorce. She said she stopped working in the drayang after more than two years due to several issues.
After that she collected scraps to sell, such as bottles and cartons, for one and a half years. She said, “Before it was bit easy for us to collect the scraps, but now the situation is different.” She said free scraps are now hard to come by nowadays.
Her current husband, Karma, 23, is from Paro. He said that he is ready to work for his family if he finds any job opportunity. He was a DCM truck driver for three years in Phuentsholing, earning Nu 8,000 per month, but the owner sold the DCM truck, and that was the end of his job. He has been unable to find a steady job since then, and spends his days collecting scrap along with his wife.
“I studied till class six and I went to Sikkim for my studies where I dropped out of school due to the language barrier,” he said.
Kinzang Dema has a son, less than 6 years old, enrolled as a monk. The youngest two sons stay at home with her, and she is 7 months pregnant now. She said she is fortunate to be blessed by the King in helping her get the census for her children as well as free education and educational expenses.
She also said she receives help from some good people who come by to give rations like, rice, vegetables and meats, with promises to visit at the end of the month with more rations. She added some have even come by to give money to them. She said she is very grateful to those who came forward with the charity.
“I am very happy to find help, in terms of money and ration, as I cannot work very much these days since I am seven months pregnant.”
However, she said she cannot stay idle as she has to work hard for the family. “I need to pay the house rent and electric bills.”
The family has a new leash of life as educating the children was a top priority for them.
After the story came out the paper received several calls and many more online enquiries asking for the contact of the family member and how they can help.
The contact number of Kinzang Dema for those who want to help more is 17680423 and the family resides near a rough road behind Sabzi Bazar.