Together for a social cause

Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck graced the launch of three-day, 11th Tarayana Fair, themed “Rural Development in Action” at the Clock Tower Square, Thimphu yesterday.

The fair brings together the community members and gives a platform for the rural participants to exhibit their handicrafts and master pieces.

Tarayana Foundation that believes in “what we do must be heard and seen” helps in promoting and preserving the diversified art works of the rural artisans.

“Our village communities are more confident of their own capabilities, and are engaging mindfully towards improving their wellbeing,” said Her Majesty Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck expressing appreciation to those who support the cause.

Speaking on the future vision of the Tarayana Foundation, Her Majesty the Queen Mother stated, “It continues to be our dream, to reach a stage when all remote communities will be truly empowered, to manage their own growth and development, and the living conditions improve significantly.”

Her Majesty the Queen Mother also expressed her concerns about the youth seeking for jobs and hoped that the youth will engage “in being part of the solution, instead of waiting to be employed.”

The event coordinator of the fair, Pema Gyalpo says that the Tarayana Fair will provide a platform for social marketing for the rural communities to sell their products as well a fund raising strategy for the foundation.

“The Tarayana family continues to work hard, from our hearts, to the best of our abilities, with the limited resources in the hope of being able to help one more person, educate one more child, build a house for one more family, bring smiles and hope to one more community,” says the Director of Programmes, Sonam Pem presenting the Tarayana Annual Report.

Currently, Tarayana Foundation works in 102 villages in the country and is making good progress in some key selected areas like expanding the Daycare Buzip Programme, the Housing Improvement Programme, Skills Development Programme and Natural Farming Programme for improving food and nutrition security in the communities.

Under Tarayana Foundation’s initiative of housing improvement programme, about 600 families in remote villages around the country now have better homes to live in. Tarayana has plans to build 463 more houses in Samtse, Mongar, Trongsa and Pema Gatshel of which 263 is to be completed this year.

“Securing funds for housing improvement continues to be a challenge for us, despite the low cost and high impact nature of this project,” says Sonam Pem, whereby mobilizing and organizing the communities to help themselves, a house is built of cost Nu. 70,000.

Tarayana Foundation with support from rural communities has 24 Buzip centers as of now where 400 children are growing up learning skills and sharpening their inquisitive minds under the care of trained facilitators. Further, the Foundation assures to build 25 more centers this year in collaboration with ECCD (Early Child Care and Development), Ministry of Education.

It also helps community members to start a vegetable production self-help group and handicrafts group in the village. Even the group saving scheme has been initiated among the community members where the foundation trains them on different skills to enhance their income generating capability while giving financial literacy.

For accessible shops in the village, the community cooperative shop has been opened with the micro-credit, provided by Tarayana Foundation.

The rural communities are able to reach the crafts to Japan, India and Australia, with the foundation’s support. In designing new products and quality control, Japanese volunteer designers through Bussi-EN has guided the local artisans.

Last year, Tarayana Foundation helped in forming of 50 SHGs (Self Help Groups) in different communities. The group is trained in skills like tailoring, natural dying, food processing, baking, poultry farming, nateuco farming.

To promote green technologies, the foundation also stresses the use of eco-san toilets, biogas, rainwater harvesting, solar dryer and eco-stoves.

For addressing the restorative surgical needs of Bhutanese, the foundation works with the Surgicorp International. In 2013, 106 people were screened, of which 45 patients underwent surgery for congeniality like harelip, cleft and burn. Presently, the eight camp in held at Paro, where of 210 screened, 67 to received corrective surgery. Tarayana Foundation also works with OPERATION SMILE from Singapore to perform corrective surgeries for children at Monggar district hospital.

The Tarayana Foundation also provided 13 tertiary education scholarships in various fields of study, last year. Tarayana Foundation looks forward to continue working with the civil society sector to strengthen it. To provide holistic care and support, for people living with disabilities and create gainful employment opportunities, Tarayana Foundation works with Ability Bhutan, Draktsho Vocational Training Center and Disabled People’s Association of Bhutan, in following up on the social inclusion policy.

Director of Programmes, Sonam Pem thanked the support from partners and donors like Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation, UNDP, ADB (JFP), Alstom Foundation, FK Norway, Small Grants Programme GEF and Canadian Fund in the success of the programmes.

This year, Tarayana Foundation’s Annual Award for 2014 was presented to William Leong for his commitment and contributing to the society.

The fair has 30 stalls comprising of the games, community exhibitions, Tarayana’s group, rural development group and a few outsiders.

The event was attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, senior government officials, donors, community members and volunteers.

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