‘Dining in the Dark’ in Bhutan hosted their third Dining in the Dark charity event on 10 August at Terma Linca Resort and Spa in Thimphu. The Prime Minister along with other 25 guests took part in the event.
The guests were blindfolded for more than an hour to three hours to experience the world of the visually impaired. The blindfolded guests were guided to their tables and seated on their chairs. As dinner is served, and the organizers explain the food items and dining cutlery and items placed on their tables in front of them, and thereafter, the guests have to figure out and eat their dinner.
In other countries, such an event is held in a totally dark room, and all the people who serve the guests are visually impaired as well. While in Bhutan, since there is no option of making the room dark, therefore, the participants are blindfolded instead.
One of the organizers of the Dining in the Dark, Kinley Phyntso, said that the main objective of this event is not to show people that how difficult it is to be visually impaired.
It was overwhelming experience as many guests cried after the event.
The goal of the Dinning in the Dark is not to make people feel sympathetic to people who are visually impaired, but it is done to make them realize that the people living with disabilities are strong and resourceful as well.
He also said that a little understanding about the life of disabled people and with help from people, it can really unlock the potential of what they have within themselves.
He said that convincing people to be there for the event is challenging. People want to donate but they do not want to come for the event because they feel uncomfortable.
“We invite a guest who can make difference and who can educate people at a larger scale. After an event, we ask them to share their experiences using various platforms. We want to spread the message as far as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chablop Passu who went as a guest shared that once blindfolded he felt completely vulnerable, and that he needed help to walk around, find a seat and even to locate his spoon.
He said, “But in short moment of darkness, I could feel myself being very attentive and focus with no visual distraction. I was engaging in soulful conversations with my table mates, whom I met.”
“However, deep down, I took comfort in the fact that at the end of the event, I could remove my blindfold and see who all were there, and how the room looked like. And it broke my heart to hear the organizer say that, some of us don’t have the option to remove the blindfold,” he added.
During the first event they got about Nu 18, 000 which they have donated to Muenseling Institute for the Visually Impaired in Khaling.
This year they got Nu 120,000 which they will be donating to Muenseling institute. This time, instead of giving them the money directly, they have asked the institute to give them a wish-list and buy things as per their needs. If any money is left, it will go for the next Dinning in the Dark event.
In future, he said that they would love to host the event at a very big scale, getting a lot of people involved. However, they are short handed, just the three of them and few volunteers which makes it difficult for them. They are hoping to keep it as an annual event, targeting to help those people who are in need.
There are no sponsors for the event. Nonetheless, there are people who volunteer with certain amounts. “It is good if people donate in money, but if they want to donate in kind then it’s appreciated,” the organizer added.
The first event took place in 19 December 2017 with 20 guests and second event in June 2018. For an event, the minimum amount they spend is Nu 30,000.
The organizers thanked all the guests, especially Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering for sparing his weekend and making himself available for the event.