Desuups in action at the border and in Thimphu (Photo Courtesy: DeSuung & Ugyen Highlander)

Desuups in service of the nation

At a time of national lock down the ‘heroes in orange’ are serving to the best of their ability across the country, be it rain or the scorching summer sun, to not only protect their fellow citizens against the COVID-19 virus but also making sure that each household gets all their essential items at their door step.

Desuups, in serving the nation, have to stay away from their families to avoid any risk of transmission, sleep on school floors with their own bedding and eat food from a common kitchen.

Desuups perform a range of duties like patrolling the southern borders, ensuring the lockdown is a success, helping medical staff with sample collection, policing quarantine centers, delivering essential items, ensuring social distancing is maintained, patrolling, loading and unloading items and an array of other duties.

Desuup Sonam Jamtsho from Thimphu expressing a common sentiment said, “Like all fellow desuups and other frontline workers, I got inspired by His Majesty’s tireless and compassionate deeds. I cannot stay at home when the nation needs me. When His Majesty has been always crisscrossing Bhutan and leading the fight against the virus, why not us as  citizens under his leadership.”

He said that it is a fact that they miss their family but one must never forget that His Majesty has never spent quality family time, not even when His Royal Highness Gyalsey Ugyen Wangchuck was just born.

“As we are interacting with a lot of people, my only worry is that we might become the agent of transmission. Therefore, I always remind my nyamros to follow proper safety protocols. It takes the right attitude to deal with the people with humility and politeness and we have been able to deal with the people well,” he added.

He also said that people have been really considerate and appreciative of their service but people must be grateful to His Majesty the King, the government and the frontline workers. He said government is ensuring transparency and safety besides going all out to address people’s challenges with whatever limited resources the country has.

Desuup Tshering Wangmo from Thimphu shared that at such a crucial time if they are to hide behind than it is shameful from their side as a desuup. She said she takes this as an opportunity to serve the nation even if she has to stay away from her family for a long time. “I miss my family but I do not want to regret later for not being able to serve when the country was in such need,” she said.

She said in the line of duty they face some difficulties whereby people tend to over react on their advice and request and some tend to show their frustration, particularly being a woman. However, she said, “We do not mind because we are here to serve them and make them understand. They will one day realize we are doing it to protect them.”

She said such times can be combated with everyone’s support, adding that every individual should be responsible as this is not a situation where only His Majesty The King and the government can overcome.

A teacher, Desuup Bala Raj Rai from Chukha said that it was an inner urge and a spontaneous feeling of love for the King, Country and Fellow citizens and also a realization that there is no best opportunity than the DeSuung program to serve the Tsa-Wa-Sum and sentient beings.

“I miss my family but I feel reassured that when I try my best to serve others I am at their service too. It gives me immense satisfaction when I represent my family in the service of my nation,” he added.

He said most of the people respect their orange uniform and they listen to their requests.

However, he said, “People are also ignorant of the current situation. Our nation is facing an unprecedented challenge and its one and every individual’s moral responsibility to protect ourselves by abiding by the protocols set by the government.”

Desuup Jangchu Lhamo from Phuenstholing said, “This is a time for me to repay back to my country and His Majesty The King. I am taking responsibility as a Bhutanese citizen. Saving lives and making the society more secure offers a great satisfaction.”

Being on duty in quarantine facility, she said, although the basic needs are provided, sometimes they fail to meet the needs of the people they serve which makes them feel that they could do better to serve. She said as of now they have not come across any individual who failed to abide by the lockdown protocol.

DeSuung Director Tashi Tobgay said 8,000 desuups are deployed on lockdown duty in 20 Dzongkhags and 1,700 along the bordering areas for border patrol in areas like Phuentsholing, Samtse, Samdrupjongkhar and Sarpang.

On an average 2,000 desuups are deployed in Thimphu alone everyday and they are not allowed to go home but are all put up in schools and hotels.   

While on duty, he said, “We have not come across any major issues or challenges because people are now well aware of the situation and they have become more disciplined except for one or two. With the lockdown procedure for the delivery system, it does take time due to size of population. Otherwise we did not face any challenges.”

He said they work in many different places and they get tired for which people complain but on the other hand people appreciate the work done by the desuups and they are generous enough to offer refreshments and even vegetables.

“Desuups have been doing good job so far and we will serve the nation and King at this point of time. The country needs us at this point of time and we will continue to give our best. No matter how tired we are, we will work with the same spirit,” he  said.

He said all desuups were asked to be polite and not to be aggressive at any cost while dealing with the people. They were also asked to not go beyond what they are supposed to do.

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