One hundred and nineteen teachers, including participants from as far as Lunana and Darjeeling joined the ranks of Desuups, citizens trained in disaster relief operations.
The integrated training program, Desuung, initiated by His Majesty based on values of personal development and aimed at encouraging active citizenry through volunteerism has seen 330 Desuups pass out so far.
The first Desuung program, held from February 14 to March 19, 2011 turned out 125 Desuups – 100 fresh graduates and 25 in-service candidates. The second batch started training from Oct. 24 to Nov. 26 with 111 Desuups of which 24 were female.
Desuups, translating to ‘Guardians of Peace’ received military-like training. Standard training days began at 5AM with physical training (PT) with Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) officers training and, sometimes, meting out punishments to the participants. Judo lessons from His Majesty’s personal trainers from Singapore and Japan were included in the training for self defense.
The latest Desuup’s training beginning on January 14 concluded in two weeks, a deviation from the normal month long program owing to time constraints of the participating teachers due to workshop engagements and the February 10 reporting deadline to schools.
Desuup Chechey did not get a participation pass in the first batch’s lucky dip. “I couldn’t join the second batch for I was in Lunana and without a telephone connection, so I applied for the third batch,” he said adding that it was a chance for important voluntary work and, at the same time, experience the life of a soldier. Desuup Sangay, a teacher at St. Josephs’, North Point, Darjeeling had not heard of Desuung until a BBS broadcast and then asked some of his friends about it. “I saw it as a great opportunity to be a part of His Majesty’s program and serve Him and the nation,” he added.
Trainees were divided into platoons named Tak, Sing, Chung and Druk. Apart from PT and disaster management classes, the training aimed to inculcate time, team management and patience development.
“The training was valuable and I will make it a point to share it in Lunana,” said Desuup Chechey. Sangay also said that it would be a big waste if he didn’t share what he had learnt from the training with his students and society. There was no time for the Passing-out Parade at the closing ceremony but all agreed that firing guns more than made up for it. Though the teacher Desuups feel that it would have been better to have participants from different organizations for broader connectivity, they agree that everyone learnt a lot.
Their only apprehension is that due to their far flung stations, everyone might not be able to join in as promptly as they would like.
“We are ready to participate and serve the country at any moment but it would be much easier if we have a letter from the Desuung Office to all offices saying we can leave any time Desuung requires us,” said Desuup Dawa Zam.
By 2015, the plans are to have more than 6,000 Desuups, built upon the spirit of volunteerism and the need to reinforce ethical standards and also to cultivate values of community service, integrity and civic responsibility.