The Second Winter Youth Engagement Programme in Mongar

The month-long 2nd Winter Youth Engagement Programme (WYEP), which was held at Gyalpozhing Higher Secondary School, Mongar from 29th December 2014 – 29th January 2015 in accordance with the command of His Majesty The King, concluded on 29th January 2015. The WYEP was organized to engage the socio-economically disadvantaged students (girls) meaningfully, enhance their knowledge & skills, build confidence and competence, bring them at level playing field with other students and keep them away from vulnerable situations like working on the construction sites and roads during winter vacation. A total of 824 female students aged between 14-20 years and studying in classes III-XII in 90 schools located in six eastern Dzongkhags and one Thromde attended the programme.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay graced the closing ceremony of the programme on 29th January. National Assembly’s Speaker Jigme Zangpo, Members of Parliament from Mongar Dzongkhag, Dzongdags of six eastern Dzongkhags, Dzongkhag officials and local leaders of Mongar Dzongkhag and heads of regional offices in the locality attended the function. The program included offering of Zhabten to His Majesty The King, Zhabten to His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, camp impression by students, exhibition of livelihood skills education products and cultural programme.

The Lyonchhen highlighted His Majesty’s visions, extraordinary concern, unconditional love and care for the youth in general and the girls in the camp in particular. In order to pay gratitude to His Majesty The King, Lyonchhen advised the students to study well, to share the knowledge and skills which they have gained from the programme with their  family members at home and friends in schools and cultivate reading habits to enhance their knowledge starting right away as 2015 is the year of reading dedicated to the 6th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

In the WYEP, a wholesome approach was adopted so that the students could avail the opportunity not only to acquire knowledge and skills but also to enable them to grow personally and live dignified lives. Therefore, the program primarily focused on strengthening their English and building individual social skills through various youth health developmental programmes like life skills, scouting, guidance, counseling as well as other skills development activities like information technology, knitting, basket making, candle and soap making, and recreational activities like art, dance, games and sports. The programmes were further enriched through guest lectures on spirituality, drugs, nature and environment and other topics related to adolescent reproductive & sexual health, hygiene and sanitation, etc.

Besides camp expenses and other Soelra, His Majesty The King granted Cash Soelra of Nu. 6000 each to the students to meet their educational expense in the coming academic year.

His Majesty The King granted an audience to the students in the morning of 19th January 2015 and commanded the following.

Importance of having sound inner health- honesty, integrity, dedication, positive attitude, hard work, perseverance, confidence, etc.

Managing time wisely and moving like a marathon runner, slow but consistent enough to win the race.

Never to give up hopes when one faces problems but learn from hardships and to be a good human being in life

Cultivate reading habits, work hard and excel in studies so that one grows up to be able to stand on one’s own feet later

Later, His Majesty also participated in basket ball match in the afternoon and also attended the Camp Fire, where the students staged a cultural programme, in the evening.

His Majesty The King visited the camp again in the morning of 22nd January 2015.

The camp had various academic and club activities. Subjects covered by regular resource persons were English, Guidance and Counseling, Life Skill Education, Drugs and alcohol and Youth mentoring.

Subjects covered by guest speakers were Religion and spirituality, Adolescent reproductive health including teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and menstrual hygiene and Dental Care.

The various clubs that were there were Tailoring, Knitting and basket making, Candle and Soap Making, Art, Computer science, Nature & environment, Paper Craft, Scouting and games.

A comprehensive health check-up including physical, dental, eye and ear screening was carried out for all students by a medical team from Mongar Regional Referral Hospital & Gyalpozhing BHU. 184 children were referred to Mongar Regional Referral Hospital for various ailments like anemia, ulcer, eye and dental problems. 87 of them were provided with eye glasses.

Two mass bathing programs were organized for all the children, one on the third day of the camp and the last on 26th January 2015, by providing them with shampoo & soap. Their hairs were also cut and trimmed by the lady teachers. Children were also provided with nail cutters.

A survey was conducted (by counselors on duty) using a questionnaire to obtain more information on the children participating in the camp on important and relevant issues related to their family, social environment, socio-economic status, and psychosocial issues like substance abuse, violence and suicides. The analysis of the survey has been completed and the counselors have prepared a report on the survey which may yield useful data for future interventions.

The camp has identified 139 needy children whose profiles have been prepared for submission for Kidu. Further, Think Tank Team from His Majesty’s Secretariat conducted a separate survey on the students on 25th January 2015.

Few isolated cases of sickness had to be attended, some of which were not physical but psychological as they were patients of local healers.

Sessions on spirituality stressed the significance of daily rituals like water and butter lamp offering, mindfulness & meditation, reciting daily prayers, making vows and hoisting prayer flags.

Competitions of games and cultural programme were held among the eight houses.

A Cultural Variety Show was staged by the students for Gyalpozhing community. Mass Cleaning Campaign was organized to raise awareness on health, environment and waste management among the local people of Gyalpozhing and Lingmethang towns.

Literary competitions like debate, quiz  and declamation were organized among the eight houses to reinforce the learning at the camp, with a wide range of questions covering all the subjects and issues taught during the camp.

Recreational activities included cultural, games and sports along with screening of educational documents and select feature films.

The regular and external resource personnel were assisted by 7 female students (Gyalpoi Tozey) from Sherubtse College and another Youth-Peer Group of 1boy and 3 girls (who conducted peer to peer youth mentoring programmes).

A grand Kurim (Dolma Yul-dhog) was conducted at the camp for the wellbeing of His Majesty the King, country and students who are attending the programme. The Kurim was performed by 18 monks of Gyalpozhing Dratshang on 26th January (7th day of the 12th Bhutanese month) 2015, Monday.

His Holiness Je Khenpo Thrulku Jigme Cheda visited the camp in the afternoon of 22nd January 2015 and conferred a teaching on taking refuge in the Triple Gem, Cause and Effect, importance of practicing the Buddha Dharma, avoiding bad habits and cultivating good ones, being grateful to His Majesty The King and importance of fulfilling His Majesty’s aspiration. His Holiness also conferred Wang (blessing) and Lung (oral transmission) of Chabdro, Jampalyang Soeldeb, Baza Guru and Mani.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Minister, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, graced the opening ceremony of the camp on 29th December 2014. Lyonpo shared her views on adolescent issues, gender equality and also joined the children for dinner to have informal interactions. Other guests included Dzongdags of six eastern Dzongkhags, six Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizins, Dzongkhag officials and local leaders of Mongar Dzongkhag and heads of regional offices in the locality.

Dr. Sonam Kinga, Chairperson, National Council, visited the camp on 10th January 2015 and delivered a talk on the vision of His Majesty The King and importance of cultivating reading habits.

Tshogpon Jigme Zangpo, Speaker, National Assembly of Bhutan visited the camp on 15th of January 2015 and advocated on the role of Parliament and importance of education.

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