People come forward to help govt in combating COVID-19

Help and support are pouring in from people within Bhutan and from international organization as well, as Bhutan copes with COVID-19. There are people in various dzongkhags that have offered their houses and hotels as quarantine space. And some groups have donated money to cope with the ongoing work to contain the virus.

In addition, all the Members of Parliament (MP’s) are giving one month salary amount to the cause, and if needed they would work without salary. 2,650 teachers from across the country have volunteered and have contributed Nu 1.2 mn. Bhutan Raven Motorcycle Club (BRMC) have donated Nu 1 mn.

World Health Organization (WHO) has given Nu 12.5 mn and they have committed to dispatch another batch. ADB has also assured some support.

Health Minister, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, said that they are not soliciting any donations as such but at this point they are in need of a lot of medical commodities. “We are bi-laterally discussing with other governments as well on procuring medical commodities. We received few calls asking if they can make donations available and it’s completely up to the public,” she added.

Agencies have come forward to donate masks, hand sanitizers, funds, vehicle movement, food and other kinds of support.

Managing Director of Hotel Olathang, Paro, Thinley Wangchuck Dorji, meanwhile shared that the country is going through difficult times and this is one’s duty as a citizen to come forward, whether it is the private sector or the government.

He said, “Everyone of us have come together, and without any disputes, we have decided to give our hotel for quarantine services. We have asked the government to keep it as quarantine facility until the time they want.”

Of the 80 staff working in the hotel, 30 staff volunteered to help the medical team. Safety measures and precautions were assured to the volunteers and they will also be quarantined for minimum two weeks.

“This is a little thing we can do for our nation which is going through bad times,” he added. Others hotels have also come forward but do not want to ne named for fear of being stigmatized later.

General Secretary of BRMC, Dawa Gyeltshen, said “After a global outbreak, we decided to do something and thereby we have been serving refreshments in Phuentsholing to Desuups, health officials and everyone involved in screening the commuters to detect COVID-19.”

Teachers in Bhutan have formed a group called Teachers of Bhutan Volunteer Group (VTOB) through social media with an objective to offer their services to King, Country and people in times of emergencies.

Coordinator, Sonam Norbu, a teacher from Lobesa Lower Secondary School, Punakha said that it’s not just Nu 1.2 mn, but a symbol of solidarity from VTOB in responding to COVID-19 and a token of gratitude for the immense support for teachers by the government.

“Seeing the need to act quickly, we had our first online coordination meeting with 1,200 teachers on 7 March and were able to develop contingency plan with numbers of resolution,” he said.

They started off with the teachers from Paro, Punakha and Thimphu, but soon the teachers of other part of the country joined in to offer their services. They will coordinate with dzongkhags and render their support as and when needed.

DeSuups as usual have been at the forefront carrying out volunteer activities.

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