Your Excellency the Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs,
Mr. Bharatbhushan Jayantilal, Ms. Charulata R A Seth and Ms. Bhanumati representing the Rotarians and Rotary Clubs in Malaysia,
The Club President of the Rotary Club of Thimphu,
Thrizin of Bongo Gewog,
And the public of Bongo and other villages
May I thank Your Excellency the Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs and our guests from Malaysia Mr. Bharatbhushan Jayantilal and Ms. Charulata R A Seth and Ms. Bhanumati and the President of the Rotary Club of Thimphu Rotarian Tsewang Rinzing for joining us to celebrate the successful completion and inauguration of 36 Pour Flush Toilets in Bongo village. The toilets were constructed with support from Rotary Club of Thimphu and a Consortium of Rotarians and Rotary Clubs in Malaysia, along with few Clubs from India. Today we are celebrating the success of one community-led project in Bongo village. It is the celebration of the kindness and generosity and support received from many people from within and outside the country, for the benefit of 36 households in Bongo. It is also the celebration of the sense of volunteerism of many individuals for the past two months to bring this genuine initiative to fruition.
I would like to share a short anecdotal account of how this project came into being.
One morning, As I took a ride with the Health Assistant of Bongo BHU from Jungley, we began to speak of a wishful thought about every household of Bongo owning a toilet of their own.
That morning itself, Tshogpa of Bongo Chiwog Rinchen Gyeltshen and myself started listing down the households who owned a toilet and those who did not. Subsequently, it turns out that only 8 household had toilets, while 36 of them did not have one.
I spent that whole morning photographing each and every pit toilet in the village to show to the outside world, the plight of the Bongo people. We felt that the sorry images would demonstrate to people the lack of the most basic necessity to promote health, wellbeing and human dignity.
Lekey Wangdi and myself drafted a short proposal to submit to anyone who might be forthcoming. A chance meeting between Ugyen Pem, a Tshogpa Member of the Bongo Tshogpa, and Yeshey Dorji, Club Secretary of Rotary Club of Thimphu was the defining moment. Ugyen Pem broached the subject with the Club Secretary and he agreed to put up the proposal to other Club Members during their weekly meeting. The Club Members agreed to take on the project and reached out to Rotarians in Malaysia. Rest is history.
We would like to inform the gathering today that we have formed a small but informal organization called Bongop Tshogpa. It is composed of all Bongops who work and live outside the village. Lekey Wangdi, son of Aum Nim Budha, Ugyen Pem, Daughter of Ap Nakchu, Sangay Tshering, Son of Ap Namgay of Zamsa and myself serve voluntarily as the Administrators of this informal organization. This initiative is one of the few others which we have undertaken and hopes to continue in future. Four of us have worked hand in hand to bring this project this far. In every step that we took, Mr. Yeshey’s advise guided us
It is quite possible that the Club President Mr. Tsewang Rinzing may have not heard of Bongo village – but today he is here among us – to celebrate an occasion that demonstrates his and his other Rotarian colleagues’ spirit of charity and sense of volunteerism.
Same goes with Mr. Bharatbhushan Jayantilal and Ms. Charulata R A Seth who may have heard of this remote village – only through the project that they have helped bring to fruition. I would also like to mention that Ms. Bhanumati from Singapore is among us today with a genuine interest to be among us.
This gathering of villagers of Bongo remain thankful to the three guests and to the President of the Rotary Club of Thimphu for coming this far to see our people, our village and to see their own act of kindness bear fruit.
The trial toilet was constructed in November and it took us 24 days to complete just one toilet! The construction of the remaining 35 toilets began on December 24 2017 and on January 26 2018, every toilet was completed. It took us only 33 days to complete 35 toilets! Not even a day for each toilet! It gives me great pleasure to inform the gathering that the project implementation has been a great success.
Now that we have achieved what we all wanted to see for our villagers in terms of a decent pour-flush toilet, where do we go from here.
Firstly, we hope to have the toilets used properly. Our toilets are constructed in a way that it has both the bathroom and the toilet spaces in the same compartment. This was to ensure that we gain the maximum benefit of the structure that is constructed. We hope our people can now keep the toilets as clean as possible, for their own benefit.
Secondly, I hope our days of using sticks and stones after the toilet is finally over. That we now instill in people a new culture of using water.
Thirdly and most importantly, we hope that the 36 toilets in Bongo serve as the symbol of cooperation of our people, spirit of volunteerism of our Bongop young men and women and that it marks the celebration of the generosity of people from Thimphu, Malaysia and from India.
As we end this program today, we would like to take you around our village to see the toilets as well as see the village in detail for yourself. You will notice that the waste water flows in this village without any drainage system. You will also note that it is very difficult for the children and old people to walk from one house to another because we don’t have a decent footpath.
Today, I dare dream again that one day we have a drainage system constructed for this village and also that we walk on footsteps laid out from one house to another. This is my next dream to achieve for this village.
I also like to make an honourable mention that Azha Sangay Dorji from Ketokha is among us today. He has come all the way from Ketokha village to share with us his desire for a decent toilet for all his few villagers of Ketokha.
I beg your forgiveness if our distinguished guests feel that we are asking a lot. But we are only seeking for a decent living condition and sanitation in our villages. That we are seeking to help the Ministry of Health and our government to achieve its targets in health improvement.
We would like to compliment the efforts of our government and fulfill the aspirations of our visionary Kings to make Bhutan a model place to live, to make it a happy place in every corner of the country. We hope to work to the best of our abilities for our Kings, for our government and most importantly, to serve our parents and brothers and sisters living in the villages.
Thank you again to everyone for giving such opportunities to Bongop Tshogpa to serve with all our heart and mind and for making every Bongop proud with the completion of the project to construct 36 toilets in Bongo by the kindness and generosity of the Rotary Club of Thimphu, Consortium of Rotary Clubs in Malaysia and Rotary Clubs from India.