Of many initiatives by His Majesty the King is the DeSuung, which directly translates to Guardians of Peace. The orange uniforms of the DeSuung have become synonymous with solidarity and assistance. In the past five years, 2,516 volunteers have been trained under the DeSuung programme and the 22nd batch is currently still undergoing training in Tencholing, Wangduephodrang.
The DeSuung Integrated Training Programme was launched in 14 February 2011 at Tencholing, Wangdue Phodrang, where volunteers are initiated in basic disaster response.
The programme was initiated with a mission in readying and empowering every eligible citizen to play their role in the nation building, through value based training and volunteer programme that inculcates a sense of responsibility, cooperation, volunteerism and leadership guided by the honour code.
The vision of the programme is to promote peace, harmony and unity through a spirit of camaraderie, volunteerism and cooperation in the nation. DeSuungs have played a vital role within and outside the country.
A significant moment for DeSuung was the voluntary assistance to the victims of the Nepal Earthquake, as part of Bhutan’s Earthquake Relief Medical Unit, which operated a self-sufficient district hospital in Nepal for several weeks. DeSuung were also part of the first-ever Bhutanese Medical Response team during the Nepal earthquake in 25th April 2015.
DeSuups have provided immense support to the Royal Bhutan Armed Forces and other agencies in relief efforts as well as in rendering assistance to the public during large-scale national events and disasters.
DeSuung coordinator, Jigme Sherub, said that DeSuung was initiated after His Majesty felt that every citizen should be given opportunity to play an important role in nation building through the spirit of volunteerism, camaraderie and cooperation.
He said the main objective is to make every citizen appreciate the sense of community, harmony and cooperation as a group and active member of society through the spirit of volunteerism and positive influence of ethics and values of service, integrity and civic responsibility.
He also said that it is also to encourage citizens to volunteer during disaster operations, participate in charitable activities and be of service to others throughout their lives and to make every citizen believe, as a lifelong member of DeSuung fraternity.
“DeSuung across the country has been actively volunteering in many national events, by helping in crowd management, and most importantly in volunteering to help during times of disasters,” he said. “The society and communities appreciate the service given and provided by the DeSuung.”
Anyone who meets the criteria set by the office is eligible to enrol for the training on first come first served basis. Graduates, Civil servants, Teachers, Medical Staff, Corporate Employees and today tourist guides are training under the programme.
Rinchen Tshering working with Bhutan Youth Development Fund said that he joined DeSuung fraternity thinking that he can change himself to serve in smaller way the community and country as a whole. “With utmost respect and dedication I thank my king for giving me an opportunity to serve my community and nation without any hesitation by changing our mindset to build a sense of volunteerism and selflessness,” he said.
The programme has seen widespread success with increasing numbers of volunteers register for each upcoming training and Desuups playing an increasing role in proving aid and assistance during times of disasters and national events.
Chencho Tshering, teacher of Kamji Central School, said that he volunteered to be DeSuung to serve the Tsa-Wa-Sum and that he feels proud every time he wears the orange dress. “I do not have words to thank our King for giving us such a wonderful platform and feels so honoured to be part of the initiative,” he said.
Karma Gyeltshen, officer with CHP, said that it’s about being one people one nation and one country. “I feel blessed and lucky to be part of the initiative whereby not compromising my professional duties, as a DeSuung, I have the opportunity to serve King, country and people during any time, ranging from small community services to wide scale disaster,” he said.
Pemba T Gyeltshen, Dy. Chief Education officer of Phuentsholing, said that it brings pride, happiness and a sense of patriotism and achievement in life to be a part of such a honourable project. “DeSuung is a privilege and once in a lifetime opportunity which I did not want to miss and there is no end to our services as we pledged to serve our Supreme Commander once and always,” he said.
Tashi Dorji, a teacher in Tshimasham, said that all the volunteering works he has done so far are gestures of thanking His Majesty the King and that he could obtain satisfaction by helping and lending a hand as part of DeSuung. “We represent our King during disaster to console the victims, we participate and render our service without anticipating anything in return. I feel proud and highly honoured to be part of the program as I can serve my king and country,” he said.
Jigme Dorji, a teacher at Pakshikha Central School, said that the initiative entrusts one with role and responsibility in the society. “Serving the king is serving the people, for our beloved king dreams his people to be well served,” he said.