Good Samaritans donate to help Bhutan’s daughter Sonam Tamang

Nu 1.9 mn raised till date

A lot of prayers for the recovery of coma patient Sonam Tamang in Japan, and an online fundraising campaign is going on in full swing for her mother Dhan Maya, who will be leaving for Japan soon.

Large numbers of people are showing their empathy with Sonam who has been in coma for almost a year now.

This is after a story by The Bhutanese on the plight of Sonam Tamang and her family went viral on the internet with the story being viewed by more than 27,000 people on the newspaper’s website. This in turn encouraged a fund raising drive by many ordinary Bhutanese individuals wanting to help Sonam and her mother.

On Friday 12th July evening just on Facebook MBoB pictures of donations on social media already exceeding Nu 80,000 and was set to exceed Nu 100,000 by the same day.

This was just the start, as donations had picked up not only in Bhutan but across the world from Australia, USA and Japan among others. The amounts at the least were around Nu 500 with many donating Nu 1,000 and others even more at Nu 5,000 plus.

A touching aspect was that even those for whom Nu 500 or Nu 1,000 would be a big amount –donated generously.

The donations were no longer happening just via facebook but also WeChat and other social media forums. Individuals and even groups of people came together to raise funds across Bhutan and around the world.

The result is that by 16th July the amount credited to the amount of Dhan Maya was around Nu 1.9 mn according to the Bank of Bhutan.

The labour ministry will fund their stay in Japan for only 20 days but Dhan Maya plans to stay longer with her daughter to help her recover and she was even willing to give up on food expenses to stay longer with her daughter.

Sonam’s brother, Pasang Tamang, has earlier said on Friday that he is aware that they have been receiving money based on the facebook comments but it may be more than this as there are other donors too.

He went to Japan in October, last year where USD 1,600 was funded by labour ministry and at the time the Bhutanese students in Japan had also contributed money.

His younger brother also went in September last year.

It has been learnt the since government rules do not allow such expenses the Gyalpoi Zimpon office has also been helping to make such travels possible.

“I am out of words to express gratitude the people who have helped us and are still helping us in many ways,”said Pasang.

He says he might receive a call from the labour ministry anytime and they are waiting for their visas too.

Sonam’s mother Dhan Maya Tamang, 56, burst into tears as she said she cannot even imagine her daughter’s condition.

She said,“Sonam was closest to my heart and she knew and understood more than her brothers. She used to call me every day just to check on how I was doing.”

“I am trying to hold my tears and stay strong. I have been staying strong for my daughter,” said the mother.

Sonam’s mother, though being aware of her daughter’s Coma, is still unaware of the full extent and details of Sonam’s medical condition since her brother and the paper decided to not publish it before Dhan Maya can find out for herself in Japan.

Dhan Maya is a heart patient and the elder son is worried about the impact on her mother.

Dhan Maya said she is very thankful to the people who are showing such gestures towards the family.

She said she has nothing with her and whatever she earned, when she was in Public Works Department (PDW) as a cleaner for the last 30 years -was spent in her children’s education.

“I am also thankful to the government for sending me to be with my daughter or else I would have never been able to see my daughter,” said the mother.

“I still remember what my daughter said before leaving for Japan. She said once she gets a job in Japan, she will look after us. She even asked me to leave my current job of cleaning the roads. Sonam said she will send money for the daily expenses of the household,but now I cannot imagine my daughter is sick in a foreign land. This hurts me very deeply,” said the mother.

Sonam went to Japan in October, 2017 as part of the Japan LEP program through the Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) agent.  She worked under harsh conditions in a factory in Japan and in September 2018 she fell sick with Tuberculosis and Meningitis and then went into coma with around 99.9 percent brain damage.

It is thought her condition was aggravated by her harsh work conditions. The Parents’ Committee allege that the combination of a high loan and inadequate income, despite promises by BEO, led students to hold multiple jobs in even hazardous conditions and quite a few did not even eat well enough leading to further complications.

Her life now completely depends on a life-supporting or ventilation machine at an Intensive Care Unit in Japan.

The labour minister in an interview two weeks ago said the government will see what they can do for them and discuss about that matter.

Meanwhile Dhan Maya and Pasang are waiting for the call from the labour ministry.

Despite her medical condition, Sonam Tamang still has a Nu 700,000 loan to pay, not counting the interest payments, and the extent of the expenses for her and her mother in Japan are expected to be high.

For those who still want to help, the BoB Account number of Sonam’s mother is 102760331. The Account name is Dhan Maya.

The story on Sonam Tamang is part of a long series of articles by The Bhutanese on the condition of students and parents who went for the BEO Learn and Earn program in Japan.

About Usha Drukpa

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