Single parents, especially single mothers in the capital face huge challenges every day to raise a child on their own. Some of these mothers receive partial help from their ex-husbands, family members while in some cases a single parent may receive no help at all.
One such single female who doggedly shoulders the responsibility is Pema Lhamo, 30 a single mother who brings up her daughter with no help from any second or third helping hand. She receives a little help from her ex husband once in a while though.
The story of single mothers struggling with children is not news in the Bhutanese society, but Pema Lhamo’s story is about being independent, not losing hope, thinking positive, and telling the world that there is life without a man too.
Life was a fairy tale for Pema Lhamo, from Zhemgang, now settled in Kabesa, few kilometers away from Thimphu town when she married the man she loved and the father of her child. But all things changed after the divorce in 2010, when her husband left her for some other woman.
Wearing a smile, she said, life was hard, with no job and the amount received from the husband as alimony for the daughter, is not enough for the mother and daughter to sustain.
Besides, she has the responsibility to look after her 62 year old mother and two other brothers who are unemployed as of now. Her father, an ex-army soldier had died in 2003.
“Then, I had no job and could not go out looking for job since my daughter was small. I had some knowledge in tailoring and had worked for some tailor shops. So to earn for the family, I went around to those people (tailor shops) asking for work. I used to take the work back home, and do the tailoring work at home. Somehow I managed,” she said.
“I had no time to mourn over my sorrow, all I knew was that I have to do something to sustain and earn for my family,” she added.
Today, she has opened a tailoring shop, located just near the Zangdopelri shopping complex, though the earning is not rewarding but she hopes that it will be better with time.
Pema’s daughter is four year old and accompanies her mother to the shop every day.
“There is no one to look after my daughter back home, so I have to bring her along to work and from morning till 9 in the evening she has to be with me. I feel so sorry for her that she has to stay with me like this but I have rather no choice either,” she said.
She is uneducated but the tailoring skill acquired was a blessing in disguise for her. More number of tailoring shops means competition but somehow she has managed to survive.
Pema Lhamo works round the clock so that by the end of the month she is able to pay off the rent, one of her supporting staff and rent.
Unlike other tailors, it takes a week to get a Tego, Kira and Wonju stitched, she does it within a day or two depending on the quantity.
“Whatever, I earn from my work; I try to save a bit for my daughter’s education. I do not want her to be uneducated and suffer like me. I want to give her whatever she needs and be happy,” she said.
Talking about her ex husband, she said that she does not regret divorcing him but regrets meeting such a man, for whom, responsibility of a father ends just by paying certain amount of money to his daughter.
“All I know is, that I have to work hard for my daughter and I am both father and mother to her,” Pema Lhamo said.
”Marrying again is not a cup of tea for me now, I will get a husband, but I need a father for my daughter which, I guess is not possible. We are happy and life is much better as compared to the past,” she added.
“My only advice to the women is that no matter what, always be positive and work hard and see life becomes beautiful. Though it is easy to say but try out once, it is worth trying,” she said.
“Where there is a will, there is a way,” always remember that, Pema concluded.